I'm proud to be a Burqueña—a woman from beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico. My mom, who's also a writer, has Spanish roots here going back to the 1500s, making my son a 9th-generation Nuevo Mexicano!
In 2019, I launched my screenwriting and producing career. I've got two films in development right now. I go to LA every few weeks for a couple of days. I always drive, 12 hours each way. I love the freedom of the open road. Fun fact: When I was a kid I wanted to be a race-car driver! Crazy, right? My big brother once raced stock cars. Now he's a businessman.
Even though I was born and raised in Albuquerque, my dad, a sociology professor, is actually an immigrant, who came to New Mexico from Cuba in 1961, at 15. He's from Havana and we still have lot of family in Santa Clara!
MY OTHER HOMELAND
I'm best known as a writer. But did you know I'm also a saxophonist and songwriter? Yep! My bachelor's is from Berklee College of Music in Boston. To me, language is music, and stories are meant to be heard as well as read!
I got the journalism bug when I started writing music stories for the Boston Globe while I was an undergrad. I have a master's in journalism, from Columbia University. I've been a staff writer for the Boston Globe and for the LA Times; the reporting and fast deadlines were great training for writing nuanced, relevant novels and screenplays.
This handsome guy is Alexander. He's the best thing in my world. The greatest joy and privilege of my life has been being his mom. He's 18 now, and off to college. He's a pretty private person, so that's all I'll say.
I left newspapers and moved back the New Mexico to be a novelist when my son was born in 2001. My first novel was a NY Times bestseller published in 11 languages, and I have more than a million books in print. My inner child who wanted to be a fancy author is so amazed we've been able to earn more than a million dollars from making up stories and writing them down! But even better than the money and creativity, being an author gave me lots of time with my son while he was growing up. It has been a wonderful life so far.
I live a pretty fun life, I can't lie. I am usually at my house in New Mexico. I work hard, and write a lot. I hike every day with my dogs, and find inspiration in the beauty of the East Mountains outside Albuquerque. Don't get the wrong idea, though. I can relax, too. I love being on the sofa, streaming great films and shows, and cooking for friends and family.
MY HAPPY PLACE
Weird as this sounds, I got my start public speaking as a group fitness instructor. For more than 20 years I taught all kinds of dance and exercise classes. That experience helped me feel comfortable in front of groups, which has come in handy with public speaking! In the fall of 2019, I'll be touring more than 20 cities for the release of my Latina history book. Don't be surprised if I make you dance at my book signings and lectures, though. :-)
I love teaching. I homeschooled my son for several years, in part because I felt schools were not working hard enough to nurture children of color. Now I'm in school to get my teaching license, with certifications in bilingual education, gifted, performing arts and language arts. I am committed to closing the education gap for our kids.
I'm a Buddhist, and have a formal practice in the Shambhala tradition. I am also a fan of the teachings of Jesus, and I enjoy gaining wisdom from all the world's faith traditions. I don't see these as being in conflict with one another at all. I think religions are like really big words, each different but all trying to capture in symbolic form the same great mystery that is life.