Thanks to a grant from 4Culture, I’ve made progress on my next novel. The working title is OFELIA AND NORMA, based on the main characters. The novel grew from my short story “Strong Girls,” which was first published in Calyx in 2008, anthologized in 2016, and included in my short story collection HOLA AND GOODBYE, also published in 2016.

“Strong Girls” is the story of large and ungraceful twin girls. When they’re recruited for the boys’ wrestling team in high school, their relationship as sisters is challenged and they question their individual identities. But just as they are about to destroy each other on the mat as opponents, the strength of their relationship saves them. The story ends on a positive note. But what happens to these characters beyond that story? What sustains them as they venture farther out into the world, sometimes without each other, sometimes with each other, but always subjected to cultural pressures about who they should be and what they should look like?

My novel takes the reader through the travails of these two young women who, in a world of eating disorders and gender and racial stereotypes, struggle for and achieve a sense of self, affirm their ties to each other and family, and define their place in the world.

This novel marks the first time I have taken characters from a previous work to further explore their needs, wants, and conflicts in a larger and more expansive narrative. While the story was told from one character’s point of view, the novel is told from two points of view – Ofelia’s and Norma’s.

On July 28 from 1:30 to 3:00 pm, I will host an event at the White Center branch of the King County Library. I’ll read short excepts from the novel, engage the audience in discussion of its themes of body image, identity, and sisterhood, and offer some writing prompts. I look forward to an afternoon of talking about themes, character, and other aspects of craft with readers and writers alike.

 

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