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.
For Latinx Heritage Month at the Pond, we’ve had the honour of hosting several amazing Latinx content creators as they talk about the amazing events they’ve put together to discussing their favourite author. Today, I am so delighted to have Adriana from Boricua Reads visit us at the Pond today. Adriana is one of the most passionate advocates for Latinx literature and a content creator and person that I look up to.
Our lovely friend Maria, who also interviewed Paola for our Latinx Heritage Month at the Pond opener, interviewed Adriana and I’m excited to share that interview with you all. Adriana visits us as a zumbadorcito de puerto rico (or, a Puerto Rican hummindbird!) wearing a bisexual flag scarf and holding a 20-sided die – they’re ready to play Dungeons and Dragons!
Before I share the interview Maria had with Adriana, in case you are meeting Adriana for the very first time, I want to take a moment to introduce you to the fabulous things that Adriana does in the book community!
Adriana: The Heart Behind Boricua Reads
When I first made the conscious decision to diversify my reading, Adriana was one of the book bloggers that shone a light on Latinx literature for me. I hadn’t read much Latinx literature – and to be honest, I can still read so much more! – but it was because of Adriana’s incredible advocacy.
Adriana runs Boricua Reads, a blog aims to promote and celebrate Latinx literature! Inside Boricua Reads, you can find helpful book lists (I particularly loved ‘The #ReadLatinx Summer of Quarantwentytwenty List‘ – where you can find some awesome Latinx reads to add to your TBR!) and also book reviews (I loved their review of Sal and Gabi Break The Universe by Carlos Hernandez)!
Adriana also has an extension to her book blog, also called Boricua Reads! Here, you can find an awesome author interview series called ¡Vamos a hablar!, where Adriana interviews Latinx authors like Daniel José Older, Peter Lopez, and Adriana Herrera! I really enjoyed reading these author interviews and I highly recommend reading them! Best of all, Adriana is also the creator of #ReadLatinx – a Twitter hashtag used to promote books written and/or illustrated by Latinx creators!
Maria’s Blogger Interview with Adriana
Maria: I love your hashtag #ReadLatinx, when you started blogging, did you imagine you would become such an advocate for Latinx books?
Adriana: When I started blogging, I realized that I wasn’t reading as many books by Latinx authors as I wanted to, but wasn’t really thinking much about it. I minored in US Latinx Studies, and part of my undergrad senior thesis delved into YA Latinx lit, but only slightly (a section of it was dedicated to When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore). When I graduated, I found I had a lot more time on my hands, and I was frustrated with seeing the same books being regurgitated across “book twitter,” with little to no recognition being given to books by Latinx. I started collecting all these release dates for myself and along the way started #ReadLatinx. I’d studied Corinne Duyvis’ OwnVoices hashtag in college, and I’d seen the ways in which #WeNeedDiverseBooks (which is now a whole organization) had impacted book publishers; I wanted to have a hand in that shift and use social media in a positive way. So, #ReadLatinx was always done purposefully to advocate for Latinx books!
What I didn’t foresee was the ways in which doing so would put me in direct contact with the industry I so badly wanted to be a part of. I was applying to jobs and thinking about grad school and in my free time I was dedicating my time to this project. I wanted there to be more publicity for the books coming out, so I made release day posts and all that. After I started getting more jobs and realized I was getting busier and couldn’t be making weekly posts and edits, I changed to just the quarterly lists on my blog, which get more expansive as time goes by.
I will continue championing these books! I just didn’t want to be one of those people saying “oh, there aren’t x or y Latinx books!” without even searching if they actually existed out there.
Maria: I know that you are from Puerto Rico, so I was wondering if there are any particular legends or myths or maybe places that you would love to have a book written about or inspired by?
Adriana: I’m sure there are but I’m not overly familiar with most Puerto Rican mythologies. One thing to understand is that a lot of our “mythology” was brought over by the Spanish, like El Cuco or even el Chupacabras. I’d never dare to dip into indigenous Taíno “mythology,” just because I’m not familiar with it and it’s not a culture I’d like to appropriate or bastardize for my fiction purposes, especially as someone who’s a white-passing Puerto Rican with a lot of European ancestry. However, there are legends that I’d love to take spins on, and I have a version of El Cuco/El Chupacabras that I’d love to get back to when I have the time and mental space to go back to. I once wrote a fanfic based on a Puerto Rican legend (the story isn’t online anymore so good luck trying to find it), and would love to revisit it and fix it because I did so much research for it but then everything fell to the wayside.
I also find certain Puerto Rican historical figures fascinating and wish to write about them. I’m more drawn to history and the people who were affected by certain events rather than existing mythos.
Maria: Wow, I actually never considered how there could be so many good stories to tell from Latinx historical figures, but you also mentioned something that I would really like to ask you more about, do you think being a white-passing Latinx has affected the experience you’ve had as a part of the book community?
Adriana: Definitely! I’m constantly aware of which books are being boosted by the Latinx community and talked about, and which Latinx bloggers/creatives are being approached for work. I try to make more of an effort to send opportunities to Afro-Latinx creatives and talk about books by Afro-Latinx. It’s about being both aware of the incongruencies and doing something about them.
We need to actively promote these stories and creators, and not just as a performative thing. Continuous support is important so it’s not just during the times in which people need to perform they know how to deconstruct and challenge Anti-Blackness within ourselves and our community. Black Latinx/Afro-Latinx are more capable of talking about the ways in which the concept of Latinidad has erased them, and even more so with Indigenous creators, which I feel I don’t do enough to talk about them. Follow Afro-Latinx in the book community like Paola Guerrero (@Guerrerawr), Taylor Mendoza (@pagescreentay), Jesse (@bowtiesbooks), Linda (@MissLindaBennet), Capri (@QueenOfSpunk), Jess (@TheOfficial_JND), and so many more people who can talk about these issues with more authority (these are all Twitter @s). But also it’s up to us to educate ourselves and not shift all responsibility of education to those who are already tired of talking about these topics. Also pay and hire them!!! Their knowledge is valuable and should be treated as such!
Most of what I can do is acknowledge the privileges that I have and give space for Latinx who aren’t white to be able to receive the treatment I’ve been able to get from this industry, and even better.
CW: To close Adriana’s amazing author interview, they put together a Latinx Heritage Month playlist for all of us to enjoy! Click the link below and enjoy the music – we loved listening to it!
Adriana M. Martínez Figueroa (they/she) is a bisexual Puerto Rican writer and sensitivity reader. They hold a B.A. from Iowa State University in Women and Gender Studies with a minor in US Latinx Studies. Their words can be found on their WordPress blog (Boricua Reads) as well as Bustle, Tor.com, and Boricua en la Luna (ed. Elena M. Aponte). They live in Vega Baja, PR.