While many Latinos have African roots, our literature doesn't always reflect
this. In addition to the glorious writing, Daughters of the Stone by Dahlma
Llanos-Figueroa is a notable debut novel because it represents a beautiful
and substantial addition to the legacy of Afro-Latino stories and storytellers.
To learn more, read this month's Q&A with Dahlma.
Helping Latinos get published,
Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York
City. She taught in the New York City school system before becoming a
young adult librarian. Dahlma has won the Bronx Council on the Arts
and BRIO Awards, as well as a Literary Arts Fellowship. She lives in the
Bronx. For more information, visit http://www.llanosfi
Q: Which author or book inspires you, and why?
A: Isabel Allende and Toni Morrison are my greatest inspirations. They
use innovative and lyrical language to tell stories that help readers come
to a new understanding or connect them with very personal aspects of
their lives. I especially love the fact that their books can be read on many
levels and therefore can be revisited over and over again.
Q: Why do you love to write?
A: I love to write because I love exploring the lives of my characters. I
enjoy creating a world in which they can grow and share themselves with
my readers. Once they are created, they often take me in directions that
are new and totally unexpected. The outcome is a wonderful surprise and
a learning lesson to me.
Q: Who is your agent and how did you meet him/her?
A: My agent is Susan Schulman and I met her at the annual International
Women's Writers Conference at Skidmore. It's a wonderful environment for
supporting and inspiring women writers.
Q: What is your writing ritual?
A: I get up at the crack of dawn, light a candle and some incense, and do
my meditations. Often, my writing comes out of images that come to me
during this quiet time. Then I turn to my journal and record all the thoughts
that have come to me. By the time I get to my computer, I have already
done the most creative part of my work.
Q: Other than honing their craft, what advice would you give to Latino
writers looking to land a book deal?
A: My advice to emerging writers is to find a writing community. Given
the realities of writing today, our world could so easily become a
computer screen and a room in which we sit alone. I've found that while
these are important, opening myself up to the constructive criticism and
supportive response of other writers is just as important. Also, this is the
way to make connections and begin the networking you will need in the
future. Silence and contemplation is crucial, but community is as important.