~Post by Haley, TPC
Contemporary authors Isabel Quintero, Jeffery Self, Paula Garner, and Joe Jimenez participated in a Q&A style panel! The panel was moderated by a fourteen-year-old writer from a small town in north Texas.
Where are y’all from?
Isabel is from southern California, Jeffery currently lives in L.A. (this is his first time visiting Texas!), Paula is from Chicago where her book Phantom Limbs takes place, and Joe is an English teacher in San Antonio.
What inspired your characters?
Joe wanted to recommend books to his students with characters that they can actually relate to and see pieces of themselves in, but there were none out there, so he decided to create his own! Isabel drew inspiration from the people she knew and grew up around in her lifetime. Jeffery wanted to see more stories with LGBT characters who are proud of their sexuality and don’t struggle so much with accepting themselves for who they are. Paula’s son was a swimmer when she first began writing her book, so she knew that the main character would be a swimmer. From there, she discovered that she wanted to play around with the idea of young people having powerful feelings for each other—something that wasn’t just puppy love—and was curious about what would happen if their relationship was severed without closure and the characters met again several years later.
As a marginalized voice in the industry, what difficulties did you have when trying to get published?
Jeffrey had a very positive experience trying to get published. His publisher really wanted an LGBT story that didn’t focus on coming-out. Isabel’s troubles involved the Spanish phrases and exclamations she strung throughout her novel. She initially italicized everything that was written in Spanish, but realized it felt unnatural.
If you could interview any author right now, who would you choose?
Isabel would interview Claudia Rankine, both Paula and Joe would interview Margaret Atwood, and Jeffrey would interview David Sedaris and Lemony Snicket!
If you could go back and change anything that happened in your life, what would you change?
Isabel would definitely go back and try not to fail Algebra II. But in retrospect, that would mean she would have to retake the class, and she really wouldn’t want to do that. Jeffrey agreed, laughing, “I don’t know why algebra is a thing, or what it is!” Joe admitted he would want to change his birth year so that he could be a teenager during this exciting time of new technology (and the masterpiece that is Twitter).
Then the Q&A opened to audience questions!
For Isabel Quintero— what advice do you have for young girls?
IQ: “Everyone is so concerned about what people have to say. No! Just follow your heart! You do YOU. Do your best to be okay with yourself and the choices you make.”
For Jeffery Self— have you ever done drag?
JS: “No! But I think I have the face for it. It’s a crying shame!”
The Pieces of Me Panel saw everything from laughter to tears, and the room was full of such a contagious energy. Thank you to these amazing authors for sharing their incredible experiences!