I was born and raised about 15 minutes from the Mexicali/Calexico border in a small desert agricultural town in the Imperial Valley.
Ever heard of the Salton Sea? Toxic dust? Yeah, not far from there. This explains a lot, really...
Anyway, as a kid, I ate donuts and pan dulce, Laffy Taffy and Pulpa de Tamarindo, chicken-fried steak and chiles rellenos.
I illustrate points best with food. Again, this explains a lot about me.
My point is... Okay, I know I had one before I mentioned chiles rellenos, but for the life of me...
Got it. My point is, I'm not Mexican or Latinx, but I grew up surrounded by Mexican-American culture and love it very much. I speak pretty much the worst Spanish ever and usually content myself with Spanglish-speaking, which I'm sure would thrill my high school Spanish teacher to no end. I double-check Spanish words in my writing with my cuñadas, or sisters-in-law, (mostly my sis-in-law Julissa) but when I get it wrong, it's all me–or a matter of dialect. Note: I have six cuñadas and four of them are Mexican-American. Remarkably, they all still pick up the phone when I call.
The characters in my stories are not based on real people (except one–Tío José); they are a blend of people I've known over the years. I consciously chose to write about people who are different from me culturally and in appearance for the reason that I listed in the dedication of my book, Spiked. So that my sisters (including my sisters-in-law), my nieces, and my daughters can always find books with female protagonists who look like them.
I only hope that I've done some small amount of justice and no harm to this beautiful culture that I hold so dear to my heart. Thanks for reading.
Cheryl aka C.P. Rider