Latinx author Anna Meriano joins us as a special Guest Editor for Hispanic Heritage Month. Later this year, she’ll release her YA debut, This is How We Fly.
Mariana Huerta, founder of Latinas Leyendo, joined She Reads to chat with Anna about her newest book and the need for more Latinx voices in YA literature. Take it away, Mariana!
Let’s start at the beginning. What inspired you to write Ellen’s story?
The long answer to this question is long, but the short answer is that several things came together at once while I was watching Cinderella on Broadway! I had been playing real life quidditch for two years at that point, and I was starting to get into feminist Tumblr, and during “In My Own Little Corner” my brain jumped the rails and pictured a character who felt trapped at home but escaped in fandom and the internet, who had strong feelings about animal rights, politics, gender… and then I realized that she could lose a cleat at a quidditch tournament and I knew I had a story I wanted to write.
Six years later, the thing that kept me excited and inspired about this story (while going through extensive edits) was the quidditch community. I’ve made so many amazing friends through quidditch, bits and pieces of whom have leaked into the pages of This Is How We Fly.
What did you find were the main differences between writing ‘This Is How We Fly’ which is YA and your previous series ‘Love Sugar Magic’ which was written for a middle grade audience?
Interesting question! I was lucky to get to study with some great kidlit authors, and we talked about MG being a time of world discovery and YA being a time of self discovery. I don’t think those are hard and fast rules at all, but it does influence where the emotional focus lands in my books. I also wrote This Is How We Fly in first person, which means Ellen’s feelings and anxieties and nerdy references come across much louder since they make up the whole fabric of the narration. I love poking fun at angsty self-conscious teenagers in my middle grade, and I also love writing them in my YA.
We are so excited to see more Latinx representation in YA! Who are some other Latinx authors whose work has inspired you?
I’ve been extremely lucky to come into publishing at a time when so many amazing Latinx authors are making new seats at new tables for themselves and others. Some authors I really look up to and whose work I love are Zoraida Córdova, Elizabeth Acevedo, Anna Marie McLemore, Ibi Zoboi, and David Bowles.
I’m also part of Las Musas Books, a collective of Latinx authors that has become a source of wisdom, opportunity, and friendship for me. And then there are the Latinx authors who are debuting this year or in the future, and I’m so excited to see them shine! Way too many people to name drop, but I think the growing community is really what inspires me.
Can you give us a preview of what you’re working on next?
Up next I have the companion to my Cinderella quidditch novel: my Snow White marching band novel! I’m super excited to write about another nerdy/sporty activity that was formative in my own teen years, and because the story follows Ellen’s younger sister five years after the events of This Is How We Fly, I love incorporating glimpses of Ellen’s future into the narrative. There will also be an evil queen of the flute section, an exiled flute forced to play tuba with seven freshman boys, and as many group bonding shenanigans as I can fit in!