Calladitas No More

Zoraida Cordova’s Brooklyn Bruja Series Has The Characters, Storyline and Magical System The CW’s ‘Charmed’ Reboot Promised But Never Delivered

Stories from Harry Potter, Mortal Instruments, “Charmed” and “The Witches of Eastwick” have gained consistent notoriety and cult followings for years, proving that no matter how trite a witch’s storyline or their magic system might be, readers love a story packed with curses, magic, and spells. Still, despite the many tales similar to La Llorona and El Cucuy that have captivated the cultures of our Latinx heritage for centuries, when it comes to mainstream media and literature, Latinx stories are often forgotten about and left out in realms that dabble in folklore, horror and the paranormal. It’s why when the first of a series of books called Brooklyn Brujas first hit shelves with the book Labirynth Lost, Latina YA fantasy enthusiasts found themselves particularly excited. The book marked the start of a series that featured not just witches but brujas– Latinx characters who squared off against evil spirits and summoned magical spells of Latin origin to do so.

Over the summer, in June, fans of the series received another delight when Zoraida Cordova released the book’s sequel, Bruja Born. Now, 5 months later, during the same week as a controversial Latinx “Charmed” reboot premiered and uncorked conversation about the representation of Latinx culture in the fantasy realm, we decided to highlight the boss Ecuadorian writer behind the series. In an interview with FIERCE, Cordova spoke about the importance of proper Latinx representation in fantasy fiction and what she hopes readers will learn from her characters of color.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about how you became an author?

A: I started writing when I was 13 years old, and I was in love with fantasy and supernatural fiction. I spent most of my time searching for that kind of … those kinds of books. And when I was in high school one of my teachers gave me an application to the … to the National Book Foundation writing camp. They used to have a summer writing camp that was free to go, and it selected, I think it was 40 to 60 people, and they spent about 2 weeks in Vermont, and you got lessons on writing from authors like Jacqueline Woodson. One year it was playwriting, and the following year it was memoir writing. And that completely changed my life because I was only 16 and 17 when I got to do those programs, and I got to be around other people of all ages. I was one of the youngest kids there, and after that I just really, really focused on becoming a writer. So, that program really changed my life. It doesn’t exist anymore though, the National Book Foundation cut the fund for that. And I got my first agent when I was 19 years old, and that’s when I,  we went on commission with our first book – that didn’t go anywhere – but then we sold The Vicious Deep three years later. Or three or four – four years later. From there I just kept writing fantasy, I dipped my toes into romance. So, I have a romance series under my name, and then a new romance series under a pen name, which is going to come out in August of 2018.

Q: What was your inspiration for the Brooklyn Brujas series? 

A: Well I’ve always wanted to write a Latina version of “Charmed,” because there wasn’t a [franchiese] that included that I sort of magic which I wanted to see. The typical magic that you find in young adult and fantasy fiction, when it’s about witches, it’s all European magic. And so I asked myself, “What would a magical tradition look like if it came from Latin America?” And you can’t write about Latin America without writing about colonization, and slavery, and figuring out how a magical tradition would change if you pulled something from all of these different places. And so once I started really figuring that out, I created my own thing, because there is no Latin mythology, there are no, you know brujeria leaders. For me, it was, it was like such a blank slate, which is also terrifying. But, I love creating magical stories, and I like making it my own and that was the best part.

Q:  I saw a blog post of yours a while ago, about the lack of diversity in the YA landscape, and you talked about how one of your first short stories featured white characters, and even one of those characters that you had based off of yourself was a white character. Can you tell me a little more about that experience, and what about motivated you to have women of color as your main characters in the books you write now.

A: I wrote that short story when I was a kid, you know? And I think that I didn’t know any better and I was regurgitating and reflecting the media that I was consuming. So when I wrote the Vicious Deep, well the discussion of reading diverse books, and that movement sort of wasn’t happening until two years later. So, I sort of snuck in my diversity by making my main character – his girlfriend, half Ecuadorian and half Greek, because I realized, I’ve never seen an Ecuadorian character and I grew up with a lot of biracial kids in Queens, New York. So, it just didn’t seem authentic, to not have that kind of representation on the page. And so that’s where that kind of thing started. But I didn’t write my first female protagonist until I wrote romance. And that was the Luck on the Line, that was that series. And then after that came Labyrinth Lost. So when I wrote Labyrinth Lost it was sort of a new journey, because I was finally writing closer to home, and that was completely terrifying because when there’s a lack of stories about a group of people, then you sort of feel like this one story is going to have to represent everybody. And that’s an unfortunate feeling to have and, but at the same time, this is a story that I’ve always had in my heart. And you know Latina brujas, which is kind of redundant, have never really been seen before. And now hopefully there’s going to be more stories along those lines, and so it’s a small thing that can create ripples back to allow other people to be able to write their story. Because I turned to writing when I saw an author who was my age being published. And she wasn’t like me in any other way other than our age. But I thought to myself, “Wow, she’s my age and she’s published by a real publisher. I can do this too.” So when you see a part of yourself reflected, and an even bigger part of yourself like somebody who looks like you, somebody who has the same needs, somebody of the same orientation, then you start to think that something that might have been a journey is all of a sudden a possibility.

Q: Why do you think that representing Latinx characters and relationships in YA is so important?

A: So I thought it was important because, when I was growing up I think everyone my age sort of felt super progressive when we were in school. Like a lot of my friends felt they [could be one way at school] that they were not at home. So it was kind of the idea that you have to be two different people, when you were with your family and when you were with your friends. And I think that especially nowadays when we have an administration that doesn’t even recognize Pride Month, you know these books are more necessary than ever because they’re … there’s a lack of representation for gay characters in fantasy, and there’s almost as few as there are of people of color. So, I think that it important for all marginalizations to intersect and to be intersectional.

Q: It’s kind of a common theme for children of immigrants to feel pressured by their parents and families to pursue careers that will bring about guaranteed financial. How did your mom feel about your desire to be a writer?

A:  I’m not always sure. I think that my mom definitely worries for me because writing is so unstable and creative careers are unstable. Not all of them are, and they’re not the same way for everyone, but I think that my mom, our immigrant parents don’t want us to go through the same things and the same struggles that they had to go through. So, I know that if she ever objected to what I was going to do with my life it didn’t come from a place of control, it came from a place of wanting me to have everything. And so, it’s a big burden to be the first kid – because I was born in Ecuador, so it’s different for my cousins who were born here, but because I represent the first generation of my family to go to college, and to have a career that isn’t a physical or a labor career – then there’s a lot of pressure when it comes to that, because it’s like I’m not just succeeding for myself, I’m succeeding for my family, and I’m now being an example to my 13-year-old cousin who wants to be a comic book writer. And he can point to me, and when my aunt … if my aunt ever says to him “you should be something else,” he can point to me and say that “oh, my cousin Zori, is successful, she’s fine.” So, that’s also a lot of pressure, but I think that we have to show up for, we have to support the younger Latinx kids who are doing creative endeavors and are finding other paths.

Q: Who has been the biggest supporter in your journey to be an author?

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Brujalicious #authorlife #brujaborn

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A: That’s hard to say. You know what, honestly my grandmother has been my biggest supporter because she’s a big reader and she, you know, I think that whatever I did she would be over-the-moon-happy about. But, for her, somebody who loves books, she’s so thrilled that I get to do this. My great-grandmother never even left the city where she was born in, in Ecuador. And so here I am traveling every single couple of days, weeks, and months to [promote my books]. So, I’m like this wild dream that they never could have even imagined. But at the same time, my grandmother, who is the biggest supporter of my books, can’t read my books because they’re not in Spanish. And so, that felt a little bad, but I know that she is my biggest, my biggest supporter.

Q:  Have you been able to tell her, like give her like a full kind of summary of the story so she knows what you’re writing?

A: My mom, my mom started translating for her, but my mom also doesn’t read as strongly in English, so we’ve explained to her that they’re a family of witches. In the beginning, I kind of joked with them and told them it was an autobiographical story about all of them

Q: What was your writing method for the Brooklyn Brujas series, and how long did it take for you to start and finish the first book?

A: The first book took over a year, I mean I had been thinking of the story before, like since, while I was writing the Vicious Deep, so it’s been years in the making. It’s a story that I’ve been thinking about for so long that the actual writing is almost irrelevant compared to how long I’ve been thinking about it, and storing ideas in my head. And it was a story that I didn’t feel that I was ready enough to write. And until that feeling finally arrived, and I don’t know what I did to make it arrive, but it was just there and all of a sudden I was like “Okay, I’m ready now.”

Q: Cool, okay so then besides writing your third book, what are you doing now?

A: So, I’m working on a lot of projects but I’m basically writing, like I’m running out of time, like that line from Hamilton, and I’m trying to produce as much as I can. And as much, and I will keep publishing stories as long as they will let me.


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Netflix Is Turning Gabriel García Márquez’s Classic ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into A Series


Netflix Is Turning Gabriel García Márquez’s Classic ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into A Series

Fans of magical realism rejoice. On Wednesday, Netflix announced it acquired the rights to Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and will be turning the literary masterpiece into a Spanish-language series.

This is the first time the 1967 novel, considered “one of the most significant works of the 20th Century,” will be adapted for screen. For years, the author, who died in 2014, refused to sell the film rights, believing the story could not be done justice through a two-hour project, according to Deadline.

Rodrigo Garcia and Gonzalo García Barcha, García Márquez’s sons, who are serving as executive producers on the show, believe a series is an appropriate approach to the book.

“For decades, our father was reluctant to sell the film rights to Cien Años de Soledad. He believed that it could not be made under the time constraints of a feature film, or that producing it in a language other than Spanish would not do it justice,” Rodrigo Garcia told BuzzFeed News, adding that the “current golden age of series,” with “the level of talented writing and directing, the cinematic quality of content,” changed the family’s mind.

“The time could not be better to bring an adaptation to the extraordinary global viewership that Netflix provides,” he continued.

The series will be filmed in Colombia.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” tells the story of the multi-generational Buendia family, whose patriarch Jose Arcadio Buendia founded Macondo, a fictional town in the South American country.

The book has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 46 languages.

In a statement, Francisco Ramos, Netflix’s vice president of Spanish-language content, said, “We know our members around the world love watching Spanish-language films and series and we feel this will be a perfect match of project and our platform.”

He’s right. Since announcing the adaptation, fans of the magical realism novel have been celebrating the news.

There’s no word yet on when the series will debut and who will star in it.

Read: This Film About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is At The Center Of The Most Expensive Sundance Documentary Deal Of All Time

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These 13 Books On Self-Care Will Help You Start the New Year Right

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These 13 Books On Self-Care Will Help You Start the New Year Right

The holidays are all about love, familia, and good food but it can also be a stressful and overwhelming time especially for those who live with mental health conditions. The books featured on this list are meant to help provide you with the resources to not only get through the holidays but also start the new year feeling poderosa. Because self-care is different for everyone, this roundup includes a variety of books that focus on traditional practices and methods as well as more practical and holistic approaches. Some of the women are self-care gurus and/or mental health care advocates and others are writers or medical professionals who’ve dealt with their owns struggles and come out of it empowered.

With 2019 just weeks away, go ahead and take a moment to read through this compilation to find the best book that’ll remind you that you are a fierce, fly, and focused superwoman ready for what’s coming next.

 “You Have the Right to Remain Fat” by Virgie Tovar

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1 day until the official release date!

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Virgie Tovar’s manifesto for curvy women everywhere is a short but powerful read debunking diet culture beliefs that perpetuate the idea that skinny is the ultimate goal. Even with today’s seemingly more body positive message, there is the still the notion that healthy equals skinny and Tovar is not here for it. After twenty years of dieting, she decides to just let herself be and this book is a testament to her newfound freedom and acceptance of her fly self as is, dismantling fatpbobia in the process.

Buy it here.

“The Latina Guide to Health: Consejos and Caring Answers” by Jane L. Delgado

Jane L. Delgado is a Cuban-American health care advocate and president and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health. With Latinas and their specific health issues and lifestyle in mind, Delgado’s guide breaks down medical myths and answers relevant questions. Sprinkled with “consejos”  like putting yourself first despite our tendencies to want to take care of others, the book also provides tips on how to feed your mind, body, and spirit and how to navigate the medical system.

Buy it here.

“The Color Of My Mind: Mental Health Narratives from People of Color” by Dior Vargas

Queer Latinx mental health activist Dior Vargas is known for being a vocal supporter of mental health awareness among people of color. Her viral People of Color and Mental Illness photo project in 2014 is the basis for this book published earlier this year. “The Color of My Mind” is a diverse counterpart to what Vargas sees is a homogenization of mental health conditions and the communities they affect. The book contains images and stories of 34 various POC discussing their trials, the strength they gained, and the lessons they learned.

Buy it here.

“The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives” edited by Vanessa Hazzard and Iresha Picot

Vanessa Hazzard and Iresha Picot were inspired to put together “The Color of Hope” for POC after learning that less than  20 percent of psychologists identify as a minority yet mental illness is prevalent among these underrepresented communities. The book features more than 20 essays, interviews, and poems by people of color living with depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder and other health conditions as well as those loved ones affected by their conditions. It’s a powerful and emotional journey through their personal experiences with mental illness in a community that more often than not doesn’t confront these issues.

Buy it here.

“Latino Families in Therapy” by Celia Jaes Falicov

The second edition of the acclaimed “Latino Families in Therapy” by Celia Jaes Falicov is an updated guide written mainly for clinical practitioners. The book examines family dynamics, environmental stressors, and migration experiences to better understand what affects Latino families and their mental health. With such a small number of POC working in mental health care this book is an essential read to encourage understanding of culturally specific issues affecting patients.

Buy it here.

“What If This Were Enough?” by Heather Havrilesky

Acclaimed writer Heather Havrilesky released this collection of essays to encourage readers to embrace imperfection in everyday life. Her characteristic humor and inspirational approach made her famous through her “Ask Polly” advice column for The Cut and it’s also present here. She deconstructs the prevailing idea that buying new products and adopting a new lifestyle will lead to a better life and instead encourages readers to live in the imperfect present to find contentment.

Buy it here.

“You Don’t Have To Like Me: Essays on Growing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding Feminism” by Alida Nugent

Part feminist manifesto and part a declaration of self-love, “You Don’t Have to Like Me”  is a testament to the empowering effects of self-love and acceptance. Alida Nugent approaches the dark moments in her life including her struggles with an eating disorder and her initially complicated relationship with feminism with wit and sincerity.  She discusses deep issues like embracing her biracial identity and more relatable topics like being unapologetic about her love for being extra when it comes to her makeup. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll be inspired to love yourself as unapologetically as she does.

Buy it here.

“Bloom: A Gift For The Girl Learning To Love Her Beautiful Soul” by Shani Jay

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We’re all guilty of looking out there for our happiness. We buy the dream house, the right car, and maybe even those new boobs. We rush around like a bunch of crazies, swiping left & right like life depends on it, trying desperately to find our other half. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But we forgot that we’re already whole. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We think that more money, and more stuff is going to make us happy. I used to think this too. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But then we get the raise, we get the Chanel handbag, we get the bigger house — and it’s still not enough. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So we look around and see what else might fill that void we feel within. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But it doesn’t matter how much more we do or get on the outside — it has little to no effect on the inside. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It’s the same when it comes to people. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We all want to be loved; it’s a basic human need. So we devote our lives to searching for the special someone who’s going to give us that love we crave. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But we don’t love ourselves. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And that’s why we spend the rest of our lives struggling to teach others how to love us. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And that’s also why we’re never truly happy, or at peace — because we’re still dependent on someone else to make us feel that way. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ How many times have you thought to yourself: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When I find that perfect person, my life will be complete. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I just need to get that promotion at work, and everything will be better. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ When we’ve saved enough as a couple and can afford to get a mortgage on our dream house, we’ll be happier. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Be honest with yourself. Maybe you’ve already had a thought like this today. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ These things you’re placing your happiness on are nothing more than distractions. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ No one and nothing out there can truly make you happy. That’s on you. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ You know where real inner happiness and peace comes from? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In your heart. In the act of embracing your authentic self. In peeling back those labels the world has nailed to you, and discovering your true soul. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ And in the realisation that everything you long to be — you already are ???????????? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ – snippet from my @medium article ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ????: @christineadel

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“Bloom: A Gift For The Girl Learning To Love Her Beautiful Soul” by Shani Jay reaffirms why self-love is the best and most important love. She addresses the women who need to be reminded to actually love themselves and who struggle with believing life will get better. This is for those moments when doubt is louder than any other emotion and you need that voice in your head telling you that you ARE strong enough.

Buy it here.

“A Cup of Water Under My Bed” by Daisy Hernández

“A Cup of Water Under My Bed” is a coming of age memoir by former ColorLines magazine executive editor Daisy Hernandez as she comes into her own as a queer Latinx. She was the first-generation American child of a Colombian mother and Cuban father who encouraged her to adapt the English language and look for a “gringo” boyfriend. Hernandez writes about her struggles at the intersection of her dual identity as American and Latina and her sexual awakening as a queer woman. This heartfelt journey to self-discovery is about exploring the possibilities that exist beyond the realm of familial expectations and finding the strength to stand up and say “this is me”. Learn more about Hernández by reading our list of Colombian writers you should know about.

Buy it here.

“Words from a Wanderer” by Alexandra Elle

Alexandra Elle’s passages are short but powerful making the collection “Words from a Wanderer” feel like you’re carrying around your best friend who is always there to uplift you. It features 62 affirmations (#anote2self) promoting self-love and self-worth and the value of putting in the work to get the desired outcome. This is the redesigned second edition of the collection originally published in 2013. Elle, a writer and wellness consultant, has published several journals with her latest, “Today I Affirm”,  coming out early next year.

Buy it here.

“Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life” by Gisele Bündchen

Supermodel Gisele Bündchen is known as the pretty face with the Amazonian body in glossy photos and runways but in “Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life” she writes about the pain and anxiety she endured at the height of her fame. She’s candid about her suicidal thoughts in the wake of constant panic attacks that were only made worse by her unhealthy lifestyle that included smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Instead of popping Xanax, she decides to completely change her lifestyle by practicing yoga and medication daily and adapting healthier eating habits. Her ability to overcome her struggles and find love and peace is a reminder that while no one is immune to suffering everyone heals is similar ways.

Buy it here.

“Three-headed Serpent” by Ariana Brown

This mini-chapbook by Afro-Mexican American poet Ariana Brown is a research project on curanderismo in her family. The stories are told through poems and interviews with her mother and grandmother focusing on spirituality, gender, race, and migration through the lens of three different generations. Ariana, who is dubbed a part-time curandera, is known for delivering powerful spoken word poetry and this chapbook is equally passionate and thought-provoking. Learn more about Ariana by reading our roundup of some of the most important Mexican and Chicana writers.

Buy it here.

“First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety” by Sarah Wilson

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Back when I wrote #firstwemakethebeastbeautiful my friend Rick rang me and asked, “Darl, why exactly are you writing this book?” "Because I can’t help it and because I’m sick of being lonely,” I replied. Then I said, “We must suffer alone. But we can at least hold out our arms to our similarly tortured, fractured, and above all else anxious neighbours, as if to say, in the kindest way possible, ‘I know’.” “Good,” Rick said and hung up. * * * This is from the first chapter of The Beast. Ahead of #worldmentalhealthday tomorrow I hold out my arms to all my neighbours from a place where I’m doing the work and going down into the pain (which are, indeed, the titles of other chapters in The Beast.) Be bold and behold your Beautiful Beast, anxious ones ???? And now, I return to the trenches… ???????? #mybeautifulbeast #mentalhealthawareness #anxiety #newyorktimesbestseller

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The title of Sarah Wilson’s bestselling book is inspired by a Chinese proverb that states “before you can conquer a beast, you must first make it beautiful” and in this case the beast is anxiety. Wilson’s memoir “First, We Make the Beast Beautiful” takes the theme of acceptance and applies it to finding a way to manage versus attempting to erase anxiety. Throughout the book she offers tips and practices to help reduce anxiety like making your bed in the morning to achieve a sense of control and accomplishment. “I bump along, in fits and starts, on a perpetual path to finding better ways for me and my mate, Anxiety, to get around,” she writes. Her practical approach will feel like a soothing balm to  those who battle the same beast.

Buy it here.  

Read: 13 Latinx Books Published This Year That Everyone Should Read

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