We thought we’d celebrate Women’s History Month by checking in with two of our favorite authors who have big books coming up!
Tehlor Kay Mejia wraps up her trilogy this summer with Paola Santiago and the Sanctuary of Shadows (on sale 8/2), and this fall J. C. Cervantes is back with The Lords of Night, a new novel set in the world of the Storm Runner trilogy (on sale 10/4). We’re grateful they took some time from their busy schedules to answer some questions about female storytellers, writers, and characters. See below.
RR.COM: Who were the female storytellers that inspired you growing up?
J. C. CERVANTES: I grew up in an oral storytelling tradition which ignited my imagination in such powerful ways. For me, storytelling time was always about connection, inspiration, and love. My mother was a master at “real” ghost stories with strange and unexpected twists. And my grandmother’s stories came alive as she spoke about the great gods, and oldest brujas. These moments with family absolutely prepared my mind and heart and voice to tell my own cuentas.
RR.COM: In what way do you feel like telling stories about girls and women is an act of resistance?
J. C. CERVANTES: Stories can challenge power structures and social constructs that aim to define who we are and the roles we play. And when we write and read and share stories about women and girls, we share new narratives that can subvert these often confining and dictated roles.
RR.COM: What is some advice you have for the next generation of women storytellers?
J. C. CERVANTES: Embrace story as your source of power. I think story is really about excavating the truth, of helping us understand the world and our place in it. It truly is a magical act and one that always brings me back to a quote by Elizabeth Gilbert:
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to discover those jewels––that’s creative living.”
RR. COM: How have the women in your life, past or present contributed to your own success, courage, and how do you honor them?
TEHLOR KAY MEJIA: I’m very lucky to come from a long line of strong women, some of whom I was lucky enough to be raised by and some I honor as ancestors. I used to believe the only way to honor them was to work as hard as possible and take advantage of every opportunity, but these days I try to honor them by deeply caring for myself in the ways I wish they had been allowed to care for themselves.
RR. COM: How has this played a role in your writing and the characters you create?
TEHLOR KAY MEJIA: Because of the way the world is set up, many of the women in my life and in my family’s past had difficult lives and few chances to heal from the traumas they experienced. Much of my writing life is about my own journey of healing, and I try very hard to create a path in my stories and my characters’ arcs to show what’s possible in that regard. I believe the best way we can honor our ancestors is by breaking cycles of trauma and making a new way for the next generation. That’s part of the reason I feel so proud to be writing for them.
RR.COM: Is there a female writer from history you find especially inspiring? Why?
TEHLOR KAY MEJIA: I really believe we’re making history now, with every story we write, so I’ll say I’m proud to be writing now alongside women I know history will honor. Women who are healing and caring for themselves and their families and breaking cycles and being brave enough to change the landscape of literature one story at a time.