Plot lines developed in my head years before I put them on paper, but the defining moment was when I was in high school. In my culture, soap operas dominate the evening broadcasts and both men and women rush home in order not to miss their favorite characters and their dramas. I began writing small dramas of my own, and my friends and boy band crushes became the characters. Each weekend I would write a chapter in my typewriter (yes, that long ago…) and when I came to school the next Monday, my friends would read where their adventures took them.
Years passed and I kept writing for myself. Stuff that probably wasn’t too bad, but still I felt embarrassed to show to anyone. And then I stopped writing at all…
I had a new life in the Netherlands, with a lovely family but working in a busy unfulfilling job. For a long time, I felt odd, as if I was missing on something. I loved reading and during my long commute I devoured many books. It was then searching online for something new to read that I came across Wattpad, a fun social platform for readers and writers. I was hooked on their fan fiction stories and realized they weren’t much different than what I wrote in my teenage years.
I gave writing a go again, over four years ago, and it seems that all the energy and ideas I had saved in my head during the years I was inactive couldn’t wait to come out. Luckily, I’m now in a job I love and my manager and colleagues are my number one fans. The love and feedback from the community has been amazing and I’m so happy I can share my stories with them digitally and in print, just like I did with my high school friends and a typed stack of papers.
Of course, many things inspire me to write, but if I have to choose just one I would say that my family does. I grew up in what is potentially a very out of the ordinary tribe. And I’m not talking just about my parents and my sister, because when you come from a Latino family like I do, the extended family, neighbors and friends all make part of it. Most of these people were involved in one way or another with the arts, and I’m blessed to count musicians, singers, poets, writers, dancers and visual artists among them. Our house was always full when there was a jamming session or a bohemian night, and besides the ever present music, food and drinks would appear from everywhere.
I found the interaction between my family members fascinating. They were so passionate that for an outsider, it looked as if they were fighting, when they were probably talking about a sport event. They were also often meddling with each other’s businesses and that would eventually end up in both parties not talking to each other for a while, and then delivering an apology note on paper which seemed the remedy to all situations. Family members have even raised children who are not their own, and have loved them the same. But my favorite, is how they were always warm and welcoming to new people; background, ethnicity, sexual preferences, it never mattered, you are family.
I believe all the passion, the fights, the apologies, the acceptance, the warmth and the unconditional love have made it into my books in one way or the other, and hopefully will continue for many stories more.
After a quick glance at the room full of press representatives, I look at Ben. He gives me a sheepish smile and I scowl. He should be the one facing the press instead of me. Our PR representative gives us a nod and we enter the room, cameras flashing from all sides. Ben trips as he comes inside, further cementing the notion that he’s doing something wrong. At 20 years old, his long limbs are still growing, perfect for playing center in our basketball team, but ungraceful for every day activities.
I take my place behind the microphone and he sits next to me. He makes a motion to take out his mobile phone and I give him a warning glare. A deep breath escapes me and it echoes throughout the room.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, thank you for joining us today. After weeks of speculation, it’s time that we set up the rumors straight. As you all know, Ben Kingston was the guest of honor at the Basketball Association banquet. A privilege for him and quite a proud moment for me as his manager and his team.”
I clear my throat and the press watches my every move.
“During the dinner portion of the event, Ben abandoned his table several times, leaving his food untouched. At first, no one seemed to notice, until people from the organization saw him entering a cleaning closet and visiting the bathroom several times. Contrary to the belief that he was doing something illegal, he had managed to sneak in a take out bag of ribs and kept washing his greasy hands and mouth in order to return to the event. At the table, he complained of a stomach ache to the waiter who asked if there was something wrong with the food. The event coordinator saw he was pale, rubbing his chest, and called for medical assistance. A team of paramedics entered the room and took Ben away, who everyone feared was having a heart attack from drug abuse. He was diagnosed with reflux from overeating. Now we’ll take some questions.”
The members of the press are speechless and Ben chuckles while thumbing a white tablet into his mouth.
One reporter raises her hand. “Can we get the address of your ribs place?”
The room explodes with booming laughter and I want Ben to choke on his antacids.