Our Friend is Here! is 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 Month Edition is 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.
I’ve been having so much fun hosting Latinx Heritage Month guest series – and I hope that you are all enjoying our posts! One of my favourite things about hosting these Our Friend is Here: Latinx Heritage Month guest series, like our Asian Heritage Month and Pride Month, is having the honour and privilege to have some incredibly cool people visit us here at the Pond. On a more personal note, I’m so happy with the wonderful guests we have had for Latinx Heritage Month, as many of the guests we have had are shining lights in the book community, especially for their advocacy for Latinx literature.
Today, I am so excited to have Carmen, the bookstagrammer behind Tomes and Textiles, visit us here at the Pond today! Our friend, Maria, who interviewed Paola, who organised Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest, helped us by interviewing Carmen and I’m excited to share the interview they had with you all! Carmen visits us as a leopard in a jumpsuit that might be familiar to those of you who follow Carmen on Twitter!
As always, before I share Maria’s interview with Carmen, I want to share with you all Carmen’s amazing bookstagram – if you have never come across her bookstagram before, then you’re in for a real treat.
Carmen: Bookstagrammer at Tomes and Textiles
If you asked me about who are some of the most creative bookstagrammers out there, one of my first picks would definitely be Carmen behind Tomes and Textiles. It goes without saying that I love Carmen’s bookstagram – it is such a beauty to behold, her hard work and thoughtfulness in every photo is evident, and it’s a great place to find a book recommendation.
What I love about Carmen’s bookstagram is that she combines her love for books, fashion, and feminism to deliver original and gorgeous content. Honestly, if you find yourself scrolling through Carmen’s bookstagram feed for ages, I wouldn’t be surprised – as I said, every photo is striking, thoughtful, and beautiful.
I particularly love this post – not only are there some truly wonderful Latinx reads, Carmen also shares some important words about the labour involved of being an advocate in the book community.
Maria’s Interview with Carmen
Maria: First of all, you probably get this a lot but I adore your Instagram feed! And congratulations on 10K!! That’s amazing!! Where do you draw the inspiration for your pictures from?
Carmen: Thank you so much, Maria! It’s been a fun ride in this bookstagram community and this feels like such a huge accomplishment.
I mostly draw inspiration from a couple of places–the most obvious is the book cover (I love creating cover recreations), but sometimes words or a scene from a book may inspire a photo as well. The second place I draw inspiration from is my closet because I often read a book and think: I have an outfit that matches the aesthetic or theme of a book, especially the cover.
Maria: I know that choosing will probably be super hard but is there a particular picture that you are super proud of how it turned out?
Carmen: I love most of my pictures for various reasons, but can always find a fault in all of them. If I had to chose my favorite one it would be the Mexican Gothic paper doll dress photo, mostly because there were so many coincidences that had to pull together to create that photo.
The paper doll was in a hand-on-hip pose and so I was shooting some tests to see how I could come close to the pose and I got it on the first shot! Also, I wasn’t even working on the lighting and it was great. So this photo that looks so grandiose was actually very simple to pull together, like it was fated to be. I love that rewarding feeling of everything coming together like that.
Maria: Do you feel that being Latinx has influenced your style when you take pictures?
Carmen: I’ll let you in on a little secret: bookstagramming has really helped me come to terms with my Cuban identity. Be it through helping me find books to deal with the complex emotions I feel being both Cuban and American, helping me meet more Latinx friends outside of my family and circle of friends and see their experiences, finding more activism within the Latinx community, I feel like bookstagram has actually influenced my Latinidad considerably and not the other way around.
Maria: Is there a particular genre or trope that you would like to see more of but with Latinx characters?
Carmen: Personally, I would love to see more classic story retellings and remixes featuring Latinx main characters. Also, I would love to see more stories centering Black and ethnically diverse Latinx characters because we are not a monolith.
Maria: If you could go back in time, what are three books you would recommend your 13 year old self and why?
Carmen: My 13-year-old self would have loved Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno–forbidden romance and curses would have appealed to me at that age in a BIG way. Also, that story was like looking in the mirror at how I was raised. Also, Ruth Behar’s Lucky Broken Girl and the way she experienced her childhood with strict parents would have been extremely meaningful to me. Finally, I think Running by Natalia Sylvester would have helped me understand how important it is to speak up for myself.
My name is Carmen. I’m a Cuban-American residing in Florida. Outside of my passion for books and my undying love of my local library, I adore vintage fashion, music, film, supporting the local arts and my dogs. I’m weirdly obsessed with skincare and will have a sheet mask recommendation for you at the drop of a hat.