Tracy Lopez has founded the group Raíces y Alas. You bet your chacha I jumped on asking her questions about that. Did you know that the Cha-Cha was written to a song by Cuban composer and violinist Enrique Jorrín in 1953? This rhythm was developed from the danzón by a syncopation of the fourth beat. I wonder what it would be like to try to Cha-Cha while say, reading Fictionaut on a cellphone? Example: Hey Tracy great opening sentence, *cha-cha-cha. Have you seen how many reads Meg Pokrass’s latest story posted has already? Wow, cool! *Cha-cha-cha. Glad to see Erlewine’s posting work (TRABAJO) again, *cha-cha-cha and DIP.

Q (Nicolle Elizabeth): Hey Tracy! You have a group going which I love (okay I love most of our groups, fine) which is for writers who are Latina/o or just feel like they are via surrogate and may write in as what you called, “Spanglish.” Cultural pride with an inclusion to all is great. Please tell us more about this group.

A: (Tracy Lopez) Raíces y Alas (Roots and Wings) is a group for Latino/Latina fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. As you said, this group is all inclusive because there is a lot of love for Latin American culture out there and some of us weren’t necessarily born into it. Some have married into it or grew up around it, but those experiences are no less valid or beautiful. Thankfully the Latino community is very accepting of what they call “Latinos de corazón” – which is to say, you may not be Latina/o by blood, but if you feel it in your heart, that is all that matters.

Did you know that last year out of the 180,000 books published in English, only 330 of them were translated works from other countries brought over into English? This includes all languages and all kinds of books, cookbooks even. This is bad, Tracy, it’s bad. Any thoughts on translated literature, here?

Wow, I didn’t know that. It’s really disappointing when you think about all the amazing stories being told around the world that we’ll never have a chance to discover. It really unfairly limits readers to a smaller reality than the one that exists. Some of my very favorite books are English translations from various other languages… And while we’re on the topic, I just want to give a shout-out to those who make their living translating books. These people don’t often get the same recognition as the actual author but I admire them so much.

Who are some little-known latina/o writers we should know about and why?

It’s funny to call someone who is actually published a “little-known author” because then I’m wondering what in the world that makes me, but nevertheless, here are some names that aren’t quite as big as Gabriel García Márquez or Sandra Cisneros, for example. Elva Treviño Hart is the author of the autobiographical Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child – I highly recommend that book. If you want to discover more than a dozen new amazing Latino/a authors in one, check out Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories from the United States and Latin America. There were so many great stories in there but one of my favorites was by an author named Daniel Chacón.

What is one place we should all visit even if only once in our lifetimes in your opinion? What book should we read when we get there?

El Salvador. I haven’t traveled around the entire world or anything but I’ve been to a few different countries and no where else were people as friendly as in El Salvador. I would walk down the street with my husband (a native of the country), and complete strangers would say, “Buenas!” (the local greeting, short for “buenos días”, “buenas tardes”, or “buenas noches” – depending on the time of day.) I’d say to my husband, “Who was that?” and he’d shrug, “I don’t know that person.” As for the book to read when you’re there, Bitter Grounds by Sandra Benítez.

Please tell us more about you, your projects, your work, your favorite title of any short fiction collection ever written?

I live outside the DC Metro area with my husband and two sons (as well as my mother-in-law most of the time.) I had a small non-fiction piece published in SerPadres magazine earlier this year (the Spanish language version of Parents magazine), and I’m working on two other small non-fiction pieces for Café Magazine in Chicago. I’m very excited about that but I love to write fiction, too and that’s been harder to break into. I have a few manuscripts in different stages of completion. This past year I’ve been querying agents in search of representation for a 68,000 word YA novel about a Tijuana teen who runs away from home and crosses the border illegally into the United States. So far I’ve had plenty of rejection, a few nibbles, but no bites. We’ll see what happens. Until then, thanks so much for interviewing me. Suerte (luck) to all of you.

Nicolle Elizabeth checks in with Fictionaut Groups every Friday.

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