Las Jefas! Latina Author’s Weaving Their Stories
By Marisa Rivera
I grew up reading books like Don Quixote de La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, and La Carreta by René Marqués, Poems by Federico Garcia Lorca and Sor Juana Inés de La Cruz. I was worried about what our youth are reading nowadays and if we had any strong, creative and multicultural writers that could capture the essence of living in two worlds as many immigrants and first-generation feel when navigating living in two worlds. No need to worry! I recently met Isabel Nuñez, author of her first novel “Woven in Moonlight”. Her ability to use a creative magical world of romance, heroism and revolution, all inspired by Bolivian history and politics is brilliant. Using her “sheroe” in the character of Ximena, it is a story of a girl seeking revenge and restoration for her people. The reader becomes immersed in the story instantly, and you feel as if you are in the mountains of Bolivia, fighting for justice and weaving tapestries while eating delicious food with Ximena.
I was recently able to interview Isabel and ask her about, not only this book, but about her story of becoming a Latina writer.
Marisa: When did you decide to become a writer?
Isabel: I have always been a storyteller. I have been an avid reader since I was a little girl. I have been writing journals since I was eight years old and when I went to college, I majored in creative writing. I love the power of words. Words have the ability to bring people together despite their differences and backgrounds.
Marisa: Did you have a teacher who inspired you or motivated you to follow your writing?
Isabel: Reading was my teacher. By reading a lot you learn how to craft a story. To me, reading was an escape. I always wished that everything I read was real. When I traveled with my parents when I was young, the first thing I will put in the suitcase were my reading books.
Marisa: Has your Latinaness influenced your writing?
Isabel: I was born in Boca Raton, Florida of Bolivian parents. I grew up between two worlds. The school year in the USA and summers in Bolivia. I felt like I did not fit in either one. Too American to be Bolivian and too Bolivian to be American. It’s not until I became older that I understood how fortunate I was to have had a childhood like that one. It was not until I became older that I embrace my Latinaness and realize how magical Bolivia truly is.
Marisa: Do you think this novel has helped you capture your two worlds?
Isabel: YES! When I was writing this novel, the words poured out of me. I realized that I was able to use the Bolivian history and politics and the Bolivia that I knew so well by having lived and learned from my parents and living in two worlds. All of its beauty, the culture, the scenery, the weather, the food, the tapestries (who Ximena was able to spin thread from moonlight – in the magical story) that are so prevalent in Bolivia and the history of revolution and the desire to see social justice using a female heroine through Ximena to save her people. This book is very personal.
Marisa: What advice do you give to other aspiring writers?
Isabel: People will tell you there is no room for your story. But your story needs to be read so kids know that they can be heroes. I want people to know that there is room for their story.
Marisa: What is next for you?
Isabel: A companion story set in the same world as Woven on Moonlight.
Marisa: I have always said that our Latinaness is our major source of strength, courage, power, creativity and innovation. Latinas – Las Jefas –Tienen mucho talento. Let’s keep showcasing and weaving our stories.
Marisa Rivera is president of Mpowerment Works, a motivational speaker, executive coach and leadership and empowerment consultant. Marisa@ MpowermentWorks. com.