Texas Writers Month Author Interview Series: Richard Yanez

author interview

Celebrating Texas Writers Month with us today is Richard Yanez (El Paso).

Comment below and subscribe via Feedburner by June 8 to win a signed copy of his coming of age novel, Cross Over Water.
Giveaway for U.S. residents only.

Richard Yanez is the author of Cross Over Water: A Novel and El Paso del Norte: Stories on the Border, both by the University of Nevada Press. Taught in several college and university courses, the critically-praised book of stories was a Finalist for the Steven Turner First Book Award from the Texas Institute of Letters.

His work has been widely anthologized by the following publications–Literary El Paso, Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature, U.S. Latino Literature Today, When I Was a Loser: True Stories of (Barely) Surviving High School, Our Working Lives: Stories of People and Work, and Mirrors Beneath The Earth: Short Fiction by Chicano Writers. His chapbook, Sacred Heart, was included in the Chicano Chapbook Series edited by Gary Soto. His work has also appeared in several journals and magazines, including Mezcla: Writing from The Tumblewords Project, PALABRA: A Magazine of Chicano & Latino Art, BorderSenses, Third Coast, Puerto del Sol, and Colorado Review.

author interview

Richard has earned three degrees, all with Honors: a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at El Paso, a Master of Art from New Mexico State University, and a Master of Fine Arts from Arizona State University. In addition, he has received a Fellowship from the Minority Scholar-in-Residence Program and a Fellowship from the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership.

His community advocacy is seen in his work with the Border Book Festival, based in Mesilla, New Mexico, Letras Latinas/Momotombo Press, BorderSenses , and RIPPLES, a Salute to the Arts program at El Paso Community College. He is a founding Advisory Circle Member of Con Tinta, a collective of Chicano/Latino activist writers. A frequent visitor to public schools, he enthusiastically shares his experiences as a writer-educator with middle and high school students.

A professor for over ten years, he has taught courses in Chicana/o Literature, Creative Writing, Expository Writing, Introduction to the Short Story, and Special Topics in Contemporary Literature at Antioch College (OH), Colorado College, Saint Mary’s College (IN), and New Mexico State University. Presently, he is a tenured Associate Professor of English at El Paso Community College.

His current project is a self-ethnography, Beyond Italics: The Chicano Writer at Work, which examines the intersection of his socio-political identity with his literary vocation and explores his creative vision of Voz/Silencio through hybrid texts.

Q. Are you a native Texan or did you get here as soon as you could?

A. I was born and raised in El Paso. Living in close proximity to the Texas-México border most definitely shaped my experiences, collective memory, and the aesthetics I explore in my writing.

Q. How did you end up writing fiction?

A. I naturally gravitated to fiction writing. My perceptions of the worlds around me, whether in a Mexican American home or in surrounding communities, have always been colored with sensory details. My earliest writings emerged as narratives, and when I discovered the storytelling of master writers, such as Flannery O’Connor, Kevin McIlvoy, and Denise Chávez, my fate as a fiction writer was sealed. My voice as a Chicano writer will always be rooted in a heightened awareness of who “we” are, and fiction writing, especially the novel form, best facilitates my creative visions.

Q. What book marketing activities made you a bestselling author?

A. The University of Nevada Press has published both El Paso del Norte: Stories on the Border and Cross Over Water: A Novel. Their dedicated support of my two books has helped my work be adopted in several college writing/literature courses that resulted in consistent sales. I work to develop relationships with as many community groups as possible to connect with potential audiences. These grassroots efforts have led to unique opportunities (readings, lectures, platicas) at literary, academic, and cultural sites. And, of course, social media is a vital tool in building a buzz about my new book.

Q. Tell us about your latest release. Is it set in Texas?

A. Cross Over Water: A Novel is completely set in El Paso. Specifically, the characters live in the Lower Valley, in close proximity to the International bridges that separate them from their ancestors’ homeland. I am proud that my novel is now part of the many wonderful books rooted in El Paso, such as, The Rain God by Arturo Islas, Nepantla by Pat Mora, and Brides and Sinners in El Chuco by Christine Granados.

Q. Where can we pay you a virtual visit?

A. I have a Book Blog that includes the latest news about my novel, including upcoming events, and helpful resources (i.e., media, reviews) for all readers. Interested parties can also visit my Amazon Author Central page and Facebook profile. I can always be reached at crossoverwater@gmail.com.

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  1. Yanez sounds like my kind of writer! I am definitely looking forward to reading his books. He didn’t mention Anaya, also one of my favorite writers. Or Cisneros. But Flannery O’Connor was the topic of one of my research papers for the McNair program. I also attended GCSU for writers workshops and visited Andalusia, near Milledgeville, GA, her home until she died. I didn’t like her writing before then, but you can’t stand in someone”s kitchen and view her oils and the places where she wrote and the places she wrote about without responding. If she influences Yanez’s writing, I’m intrigued. I must read this man’s book!

  2. Sounds interesting…thanks for the giveaway.

  3. love the cover of this novel…thanks for the chance to read it 🙂

  4. I like the New Mexico connection and like KarenK am also struck by the cover of the book. Living in a border town myself (but in CA) I am curious to know more about the experiences in other border areas.

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