Meet Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas, Author [Interview]

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It’s my pleasure to welcome Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas to my blog!

Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas | Author Interview | Creative Writing | Historical Writing | RachelPoli.com

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas and am a Ph.D. history student attending the University of California, Davis.  My research centers on Asian American women’s history.  I particularly am interested in intergenerational experiences and their contributions to history and American culture.  As a second generation Asian American woman growing up in the Bay Area during the nineties, I noticed my generation didn’t have Asian American female role models or historical figures visible in mainstream American textbooks and curriculum.  I hope to produce readable historical material that showcases Asian Americans, or minorities for that matter, as active, present, and influential so that younger generations of Asian Americans have a history to fall back on, reference, and find role models in.

How long have you been writing for?

I believe professionally, I have been writing history for five years.  If we count how long I have been writing as a hobby I would probably say since I was six years old.

What is your writing process like?

My writing process really is to first read secondary sources.  For example grabbing history books off the shelves written by both trained historians, Ethnic Studies, American Studies, Women’s Studies, and Asian American Studies scholars.  I tend to write down topics of interest to me from those resources and begin to write summaries or annotated bibliographies on those resources.  Through this process, I have made a grand collection of important scholarly material readily available to me as a reference that can help guide me through defining subject material for my own research.

The other more fun process is simply reading historical fiction, the news, or even English literature and finding stories that might interest me that way.  I jot down notes in a journal or Google Document for safe keeping as to the topics I want to write on from interests I find from these less conventional resources.  When I am ready, I return to those topics, sit down, write, and basically “word vomit” as much as I can because I know that proofreading is an inevitable painstaking process I have to commit to later on.  Therefore getting all my ideas and notes down without worrying about the way it sounds helps ease the anxiety that comes with professional writing.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

As a Ph.D. student, it really is hard to maintain a writing routine.  If we aren’t reading for research, we are writing furious notes for our own seminar papers, or we are working as Teacher’s Assistants or writing papers/articles with deadlines.  I feel as if on a whole, my daily routine is really reading and writing for 8 to 10 hours.  The nature of graduate school really forces you to be on top of reading and writing, not just for your classes but towards the research you hope to produce.  My writing routine therefore is, whenever I can squeeze in writing, I try to write a page or two a day, that way by the end of the week I would have at least 8 pages of a rough draft ready.  Procrastination is a scary habit, and this routine helps me to avoid that.

What motivates you to write?

What motivates me to write include my family and friends who believe in my scholarly aims, my own family’s fascinating and complicated ethnic history, and teaching young students.  As a second generation Asian American woman, I am exposed to two very different cultures and always found those two worlds of identity both fascinating and complicated.   Especially as  a woman of color, I believe marginalized communities have less of a voice, if any, in traditional histories taught in both public and  private school curriculum.  Thus I really strive to write narratives of minorities who have been made to feel less important, or even secondary because traditional histories, news, and even film often lack variety and speak to only the majority perspective.  But really overall, I love reading and how the written word can transport you to other worlds, times, or places.  Stories, if written well and with heart, can make more visible the perspectives of other people from both the past and present. I want to create literature that can serve as a necessary medium that teaches empathy and compassion.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I was, and still am, so grateful to Pacific Atrocities Education head and editor, Jenny Chan, and those I had collaborated with (Klytie Xu, guerrilla veteran Lourdes Poblete) to make that dream possible.  I think the first thing I did besides tell my immediate family was to write in my journal that I had fulfilled a lifelong dream.  I wanted to document it and write down all my emotions and essentially scrapbook that moment so that when I  was older, I could still feel how happy I was because my writing would still pour those emotions out.  Also, the historian in me finds documentation as evidence of the lived experience and I’m sure a part of that professional training made me want to jot it down.  Of course, after I received the news, I celebrated with a trip to the coffee/boba cafe with my older sister to get myself the chubbiest cup of milk tea I felt I deserved.

Are you currently working on anything new?

As a second-year graduate student, I am working on a paper discussing the roles of Asian American women during the Yellow Power/Asian American Movement (1968-1970s).  I am trying to tease out the barriers that Asian American women faced as women of color during both the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Rights Movement.  They weren’t allowed to fully participate in both because gender and racial prejudices, unfortunately, plagued both movements respectively.  I also have in mind writing historical fiction stories that reflect the personal struggles that my family, friends, and peers have faced as women of color with long immigrant family histories.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I would be a Humanities teacher (History, Language Composition, English Literature).   I have teaching experience and always feel safe and energetic in the classroom.  As a history graduate student, we are allowed the opportunities to lead classroom discussions with undergraduates as Teacher’s  Assistants and I have found working with youth as a mentor to be very fun, rewarding, and another way to understand history by seeing how younger generations interpret the past.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

The easiest part of writing for me is the outline, formulating and making arguments/narratives, finding primary resources, and creating resource guides like the bibliography or footnotes.  The hardest part is getting the time to sit down, relax, and actually write a full introduction especially if there is a deadline looming over you.  The introductions are still to this day very nerve-wracking.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

Honestly that you won’t know how to do it until you go through it.  Always be open to constructive criticism and recognize that writing is a continuous process;  you’re always learning how to improve.

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

That is really a  tough question.  I would feel terribly ungrateful if I only mentioned one.   If I had to narrow it down it would have to include genres like Children’s Literature, Fiction, History, and Asian American Studies.

  1. Corduroy by Don Freeman.
  2. Asian American Women & Men: Labor, Laws, & Love by Yen Le Espiritu
  3. Quiet Odyssey: A Pioneer Korean Woman in America by Mary Paik Lee
  4. On Gold Mountain by Lisa See
  5. Anne of Green Gables by M. Montgomery

My favorite Authors:

1. Yen Le Espiritu
2. Susan Johnson
3. A. Milne
4. Huping Ling
5. Yoshiko Uchida

Books that really inspired me to write early on was Paul Zindel’s novel, The Pigman, and Scott O’Dell’s  Carlota.  They center on young women, teenagers even, who are struggling with their identity, culture, and what it means to be an adult.  Not only were their dilemmas relatable, Scott O’Dell especially had a knack for transporting his audiences to another time and engaging historical narratives.  I fell in love with literature the moment I understood the personalities of their characters.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Getting that first sentence on paper is the first obstacle and I know how nerve-wracking a blank Word or Google Document can be.  Writing and telling yourself you can write is much easier said than done.  But honestly, my advice is simply to just write, and really I mean to write, write, write.  Always be open to practice.  Write short stories, practice oral histories and writing out interview questions, immerse yourself in the secondary sources on the topic you really connect with or find interesting.  Always ask yourself “Do you love to read?  Do you still love to write?” If the answers are still YES after heaps of constructive criticisms from mentors, peers, and editors, you really can’t lose.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I hope that those who do get a chance to read my work will be inspired to read more history or at least become a history enthusiast; the Humanities always needs more fans.

Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas | Author Interview | Creative Writing | RachelPoli.comAbout Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas

Stacey Anne Baterina Salinas is a history Ph.D. student currently attending the University of California, Davis.  She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Irvine and received her Master’s degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, both in American History.  Her research focus is on Asian American History centering on the roles of Asian American women and their impact on America’s Civil Rights Movement(s) and contributions to the diversity of the American woman’s experience.

When not focusing on dreary graduate coursework, Stacey Anne enjoys binge reading historical fiction, English literature, and manga with the background noise of old Hollywood, or Disney, films playing on the TV as she reads.  A native of the Bay Area, Stacey Anne hopes to one day write a history of the diverse cultures and peoples that contributed to the unique and positive atmosphere of the area.

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The Boy On The Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

2015-07-09 19.29.21

Title: The Boy on the Wooden Box
Author: Leon Leyson
Genre: Autobiography
How I got the book: I borrowed it from my mom’s bookshelf

Summary (from Amazon):

Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance, and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory—a list that became world renowned: Schindler’s List.

My Review (may contain spoilers!):

Inspiring.

Breathtaking.

This book is an autobiography written by Leon Leyson, a Jewish boy who survived the Holocaust. He was only ten-years-old when the Nazis took over.

Leon survived because of Oskar Schindler as well as the strength of his family.

It’s a quick, easy read and has more than enough information. The first chapter explains background on Leon, his family, and his life before the Nazis. The rest of the novel–up until the last chapter–is his experiences being held captive by the Nazis and working for them as well as trying to stick with his family as they keep getting split up.

There’s an afterward of letters written by Leon’s children as well as pictures.

It’s a sad tale, but has a happy ending. I think this is a story that everyone should read.

The Boy on the Wooden Box gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“A hero is an ordinary human being who does the best of things in the worst of times.” –Leon Leyson, The Boy on the Wooden Box