El Sendero: Next Big Thing Blog


So this is a blog thread going around where different writers update on what we’re working on and then pass it along. I was tagged by Kiini Ibura Salaam who got it from Ibi Zoboi, both amazing writers I’m proud to be in a collective with.

What is the working title of your next book?

The Book Of Lost Saints

Where did the idea come from for the book?

My friend Sam The Mad Astrologer and I were taking a walk, I was harrumphing about maybe writing something directly about Cuba instead of just symbolically about it, he said what about ghosts from the Isle of Pines prison? My uncle was a political prisoner there, although this isn’t his story by any means. Something clicked when he said that. I got quiet, went home and started plotting. Growing up hearing stories about the mostly forgotten struggles in the immediate aftermath of the Cuban Revolution has left me fascinated by the crossroads of myth, family memories and history. This book sits right in those crossroads, smoking a cigar.

What genre does your book fall under?
Literary Fiction
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Gael Garcia Bernal (From Y Tu Mamá También) could be Ramon, the DJ/hospital security guard that ends up traveling to Cuba to find out what happened to his long lost aunt, Marisol.
Marisol could be played by the great singer Chavela Vargas. That fact that she’s dead shouldn’t be a problem, the aunt shows up mainly in spirit form anyway. And yes, as Mexicans they’d have to work to get that Cuban accent right, but if a Spaniard like Javier Bardem can do it in Before Night Falls so can they.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

The spirit of a disappeared Cuban political dissident tries to get her DJ nephew to uncover the truth about what happened to her.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m currently repped by Eddie Schneider of JABberwocky Literary.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I’ve been writing for a year and I’m about 2/3 through it. Plan to finish in the next few months and have the second draft done by December.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
There’s a fantastic Spanish book called Soldados de Salamina that plays with a lot of similar ideas about uncovering the troubled history to understand the troubled present. La Sombra del Viento is another Spanish one. Both are about the civil war there. Tananarive Due’s The Good House is a great example of spirituality and family history interconnecting that I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?Besides the stories I grew up on, I’m inspired by the many, many untold stories of the Cuban experience that don’t fit into the simple, one extreme or another equation we generally see presented. We’re so much more complex than just right wing or communist fanatics; this book is about people who believe passionately in freedom but don’t fit into such easy categories.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I crafted the hospital scenes from my experience working as a 911 paramedic these past nine years in NYC. I crafted the club scenes from my experience…going to clubs…these past nine years in NYC. There’s also several Santeros (also crafted from experience), a parallel storyline dealing with the Cuban Revolution, an old corrupt politico and a whoooole bunch of sex (also craft…nevermind).

Coming up: posts from three super amazing writers- my sister Malka Older, my mentee Sorahya Moore and my friend S. Nicole Brown…


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