From Carmen’s Amazon Author Page: Hello! I’m Carmen. As if 36 years in the classroom weren’t enough, I now “teach” from home, helping aspiring authors with their own manuscripts, researching marketing strategies, and working on my next book. You can find me in the mountains of northern New Mexico where my husband and I enjoy a peaceful, quiet life caring for our animal family and any stray that happens to stop by.
Below are Carmen’s responses to a Q&A interview about her work as a writer and published author.
Q. What genre do you work in?
A. The majority of my works are literary regionalism with a touch of magical realism. My first book, El Hermano, is a historical fiction based on my father’s induction and subsequent rise to leadership of our community’s brotherhood of Hermanos Penitentes. My second book, Las Mujeres Misteriosas, is a ghost story mystery, which pits La Muerte against la Llorona in a fight over the soul of a young woman. My third book, Cuentos del Cañón, is a short story collection. It’s a companion book to the first because it’s comprised of the backstories of characters featured in the first book. My fourth, Viajes con Fantasmas, is a sequel to the second, which will publish this summer. My fifth, a short story cycle, is called La Quinceañera. It’s a parallel narrative of three plots which intertwine in 12 separate short stories. It is currently in the editing stage. I have also published 17 short pieces, fiction and non-fiction, in online literary magazines since 2017.
Q. Why that genre?
A. I found my voice in the first book and discovered that my readers appreciate both the stories I tell and the style I use to tell them. The realization that I could be a small voice whereby I could inform, educate, and entertain those who are interested in my culture is why I love writing regionalistic literature. It’s what I know, what I love, and what I want to leave behind as my legacy to New Mexico’s literature. We New Mexico Hispanics have a rich history, but we are not well-known. We are distinct from Latinos of other countries, and I want to tell everyone I can reach about our uniqueness.
Q. What inspires you?
A. A locked wooden box, which revealed the secrets of los Hermanos’ brotherhood, inspired my first book. I was disappointed with the way their religious practices were sensationalized in other publications. I wanted my book to show readers that the brotherhood is so much more than what people think. That box gave me the historical information I needed to set the record straight – so to speak – without revealing private information none of us has to know, since we are not of them. Now, I’m inspired by elements of my culture in addition to religion: dying traditions and customs, superstitions, folklore, and beliefs, lifestyle, dialect — all of which I include in most of my works to show younger generations how our ancestors lived, to remind those my age and older of the old days we share, and to preserve the past. I’m inspired by life and death, real human struggles, my career — so many themes in life to write about. I’m also inspired by a variety of writing genres. This allows me to experiment in writing.
Q. What is your preferred work environment as a writer?
A. I worked as a teacher for 36 years, leaving my beautiful home built by my husband on the land of my ancestors. I retired in 2014 and am living the life of my dreams: working from the comfort of my home surrounded by mountains and meadows. Several times already I have caught a movement in the reflection of my PC, which turns out to be elk or deer peering in the window next to me. There is nowhere I’d rather be.
Q. Who do you most admire and in what ways were you influenced by this individual?
A. That’s a hard one. I can’t focus on anyone, other than Jesus Christ. I admire those who persevere, who are honest, and humble, and who attain their goals through willpower and courage — too many to name individually.
Q. Where can your work be purchased?
A. All my books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and Goodreads; they can also be found on a variety of other websites as well as local venues: Tome on the Range in Las Vegas, Op.cit in Taos, Bookworks in Albuquerque and several other locations.
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