Ester: I met Thelma through the Nunca Sola group online. Hello Thelma. Tell me what made you decide to become an author.
Thelma: As far back as I can remember, I enjoyed writing. As a kid, my mom inspired me. She was a high school dropout, but she had been her school’s spelling bee champion in elementary school, and she was naturally very smart with the most beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen. She helped me write some school essays when I was young, and then having great teachers along the way sealed the deal! My first publications were poems in our high school newspaper in Kingsville, Texas, and all the news articles I wrote for it. In college (Texas A&I University), I majored in English and journalism, wrote for the college paper, and won a couple of literary contests they had there.
Ester: You were off to a good start! How long have you been writing professionally?
Thelma: All my adult life: first as an English teacher at Pasadena High School; then as a published author; now as a writing consultant/editor as well as a blogger and published author. It’s all been great fun for me!
Ester: Thelma, what do you do for fun when you aren’t writing?
Thelma: I love this question! It doesn’t take much for something to be “fun” for me. I love life. I can sit in my backyard with my husband, Victor, and listen to the birds and chat about our grandchildren. Or I can play with my granddaughter, whom we babysit for a few hours almost every day after her school day. Or I can take a walk around our block with our aging border collie, Mica. Or I can watch college football on a Saturday with my son, Victor Cass, and the rest of my family. Or go shopping!
Ester: Those sound like fun options. Do you write full-time or part-time, Thelma?
Thelma: For most of my career, it was part-time. Then I had the luxury of retiring early to work on my writing and other dreams I had. Now it’s pretty much full-time, though my time is divided among my Writing Pros Business; teaching part-time at California State University, Los Angeles; serving as a Pasadena City Commissioner and in other civic volunteer capacities; and spending time with family. It’s all fun and immensely satisfying to me.
Ester: I take it you reside in California?
Thelma: Yes, Pasadena, California.
Ester: Tell us about your latest release.
Thelma: My book is titled, THE HEAVENS WEEP for US and OTHER STORIES, published last year and available on amazon.com. It’s a collection of 12 new stories, or stories I wrote in the past three years or so. The stories take place in Texas, where I was born and raised; in Pasadena, California, where I live; and in Chicago, where I have family. My characters are men and women who represent the gamut of everyday humanity: old, young, rich, poor, immigrant, native, etc. My characters are mostly Latina/o, but I like to think they’re universal and not necessarily identified by one ethnic category. I’ve chosen names for most of them that are not culture-specific.
My characters struggle with losses large and small: the death of a loved one, marital infidelity, alienation from loved ones, physical mutilation, the loss of faith, etc. The stories are simple but complex. I prefer “literary” writing to “commercial” literature. My readers often tell me that my stories leave them thinking long after they’ve finished the book. This is what I try to do in my writing.
Ester: Hearing from your readers that it’s working must be a great feeling. Do you have any appearances or book signings scheduled this year Thelma?
Thelma: Yes, thank you for asking!
Ester: Tell us when and where.
Thelma: I’ll be speaking and signing books at the following places:
1. On October 9th & 10th, I’ll be at the 13th ANNUAL LATINO BOOK & FAMILY FESTIVAL (LBFF), perhaps the largest, best-known Latino author event in America. It will be held at California State University, Los Angeles. I’ll be on two author panels in addition to signing books.
2. On November 10th, I’ll be at the Pasadena Latina/o Author Mixer and Panel Discussion at the Pasadena Central Library, along with five fellow Pasadena authors.
Other book readings and signings are being planned, but for now, these are the confirmed ones.
Ester: Do you mind if we list your websites so people can check back with you on updates?
Thelma: My author website is: http://www.ThelmaReyna.com
My business website is: http://www.TheWritingPros.com
My main blog is: http://www.Latinowriterstoday.blogspot.com
My new literary blog is: http://TheLiterarySelf.Blogspot.com
And my guest blog appearances are: http://www.PowerfulLatinas.com
Ester: Thank you Thelma for taking time to answer my questions.
Thelma: I firmly believe that we all have stories inside of us that need to be told, or that could, or should be told. What often separates authors from the rest of humanity is that authors are willing to learn how to extract those burning stories from inside their beings and share them with the world. Authors train themselves, formally or informally, to create, to take risks, to have the courage to put their thoughts and observations out there for public consumption. Whether the world responds with open arms or with scorn or with a cold, ignoring shoulder, authors often still plod along, because telling their inner stories is that important, that vital to their purpose in life.
Ester: Thanks again, Thelma.
Thelma: Thank YOU for this wonderful opportunity, Ester. This was fun!