Our Friend is Here! Latinx Heritage Month – An Interview with Paola, Organiser of the Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest!

lhm paola

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Our Friend is Here: Latinx Heritage MonthEditionis a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where between September 15th and October 15th, Latinx authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Latinx and Latinx books. Find the introduction post for Latinx Heritage Month at The Quiet Pond here.

A big and warm welcome to our very first day of Latinx Heritage Month at the Pond! For the next month, we at The Quiet Pond have the joy and honour of hosting some incredible Latinx voices to share their thoughts and experiences and talk with us about anything Latinx and Latinx literature. To welcome our first guest to Latinx Heritage Month at the Pond, I am so honoured to have the help of Maria!

Without further ado, I’ll now hand over to Maria to introduce you to our first guest at Latinx Heritage Month at the Pond: Paola!

Paola and Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest

We are so delighted to have Paola visit us at the Pond today, and if it’s your first time meeting her, then I cannot wait to share all the incredible work that Paola has done!

As I shared in our introduction post, Paola is the organiser behind Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest – an online book festival that runs during the duration of Latinx Heritage Month and aims to celebrate Latinx voices and literature! Paola has put a tremendous amount of work into this book festival, and I cannot wait to watch all of the events.

To give you an idea, here are just a few of the events that we’re looking forward to:

We’re looking forward to “Children Read Too”, an event featuring children book authors and is moderated by Adri (who will be visiting us at the Pond during Latinx Heritage Month!), and “Afro-Latinidad”, an event featuring Afro-Latinx writers and is moderated by Jesse

For a full list of the Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest schedule, visit its Twitter here

Hello and Introductions from Maria!

I want to start this post by thanking CW and everyone at the Pond so much for having me for Latinx Heritage Month. I am so excited to be here and I hope the interviews help highlight some of the many awesome Latinx creators we have in the book community!

paolaFirst of we have Paola, who is the amazing mind behind the Accidentally In Love Book Club and the Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest! I have been so so hyped for Latinx Heritage Month partially thanks to her. It takes a lot of work and commitment to organise an event like this and I love the creativity behind every project Paola works on. I am beyond excited to get to talk to her about her project and, of course, get some recommendations to read during this exciting month!

Interview: Paola

Maria: First of all, I am super impressed with everything you are doing for LHM, how did you come up with the idea for this online event?

Thank you! I came up with the idea after doing a panel for the Social Distance Book Fest, where I talked with Chantel Acevedo, Daniel José Older, Zoraida Córdova, Amparo Ortiz and Anna-Marie McLemore about Latinx identity in the fantasy genre. I thought it would be cool to have a space where we could celebrate Latinx bookish things no matter the genre.

Maria: I’m sure planning an entire event like this has not been easy, around how long have you been planning it?

I thought about doing it since May/June, but didn’t sit down to actually put work into it to land the idea until mid-July! 

Maria: For the Instagram challenge, is there a day you are particularly excited to see the pictures of?

I’m looking forward to cover recreations, there’s two challenges for that, telenovela-ize your pose and a Latinx book you’d recommend to teen you, the most. I’m dying to see how creative people get, and how emotional I’ll be with the Latinx book you’d recommend to teen you. 

Maria: Owww, I definitely understand why that would make you emotional, how do you think your reading experience or your life would have been affected by getting to see yourself more represented in literature?

This might sound a little (or a lot, I don’t know) shallow, but when I was a teen there was a lot of pressure to date and be desirable to guys, so I think if I read a book with someone who looked like me would have helped my self-esteem tremendously. It wasn’t until much later when I started reading adult romance books, such as Delicious Satisfaction (which I read because of you) and Dance With Me that I started to realize that I deserved a happy ending too. 

Similarly, I think that reading about a girl who was happy as hell just hanging out with her friends, doing teenage stuff other than worrying about a boy would have been super validating. I think a lot of YA books focus on the romance and that’s great, but not everyone shares that experience, and I wish there were more of those books out there. 

Maria: What is the main goal you want to accomplish with the LHM Book Fest?

I want people to see Latinx writers and readers to take the spotlight. I want us to be front and center and celebrate the diversity within our own community without any unfair judgement. 

Maria: And last but not least, because I know we all love to talk about our favourites,  which books would you say are your top three favourite Latinx books?

Oh my goodness! I love this question! 

  1. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel. It’s magical realism at its finest, set during my favorite historical time to read about (Mexican Revolution), and it’s about love and tradition and food. Ugh. I love it so much. 
  2. Dance With Me by Alexis Daria. This is the smuttiest and most emotional book I’ve ever read. This is the book that validated me the most because Natasha was an emotional wreck but Dimitri was always there for her and refused to give up on her. I learned that I deserved that too. 
  3. Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia. This book is the perfect balance between romantic love and platonic love. I love how friendship driven it is, that it’s about a beauty pageant and it’s also foodie as fuck. I haven’t stopped thinking about it and I just read it in August!

Maria: I can’t wait to read Miss Meteor!!! Thank you so so much for answering these questions Paola!! 

About Paola

PaolaGuerreroPaola is a Mexican morenita who has a love for books and musical theater. She is the creator of the Accidentally In Love Book Club, dedicated to reading books by romance authors of color. She is also the organizer of the Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest which is a month-long online event dedicated to celebrating Latinx literature and Latinx voices in the book community.

Find Paola on: Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | Blog

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