About Desiree Calderon de Fawaz:
Growing up in Mexico City was a delight. I was rather lucky to have an illustrious father who, above all, fostered the love for reading, classical music, chess and all things cultural. His family had been the cradle of many historical and artistic personalities from writers like Jose Vasconcelos to painters like Frida Kahlo. I was only 6 when he came home with an easel, canvases and my new set of oil paints. From then on, we dedicated many afternoons to learning some easy oil techniques. It didn't take much for me to get hooked and soon I had a collection of paintings that mom displayed proudly. By age 11, dad hired me to copy portions of the Dresden Codex to illustrate one of his books on Mayan archaeo-astronomy. That was, I believe, the start of my career as an illustrator.
I owe to my mother, a singer and unapologetic nomad, the excitement of those early years. By the time I was 16, we had moved residence back and forth eleven times; experiencing life in the Yucatan peninsula, Puerto Rico and North Mexico. We had also traveled extensively and repeatedly to most states in Mexico, all of them with contrasting subcultures and traditions, and to places as far as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Taiwan, Italy and the USA. With so much movement in my early years, it was essential to find refuge in painting and poetry. They both became my anchors and, in many ways, my form of meditation. If I could summarize my childhood, without sugar-coating it, I would say that it was a happy, awe-inspiring one where the main theme was "multiplicity of cultures and religions" and I learned at a very young age about this common thread of love that ties all of us together and makes us One.By age 17, I moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas where I graduated with a degree in Microbiology and French since I was discouraged to pursue a career in the arts and history: "it is a good hobby but not a profitable career", the family said. There I also met my wonderful husband, Mohamed, who undeniably opened up a different world to me. Together, we made what would be the first of a series of trips to Lebanon and I fell in love with the Mediterranean Arab culture.
On one of those trips, I had a vision of absolute beauty. My sweet, old mother-in-law was hard at work in the kitchen sorting some vegetables when she decided to, briefly, move her veil back. I was suddenly startled by the golden shine of the intricate earrings that looked rather ostentatious but that, instead, were worn with the deepest humility. A thought came to my mind at that moment: the realization that the beauty of her soul was many times more magnanimous than those earrings but, just like them, it contrasted graciously with her old clothes, wrinkled face and white curls. At that very instant, the idea of Tata's Earrings was born. It would take a decade and three kids later for Tata to take shape and, for me, to relearn the language of childhood.
In 2015, we again traveled to Lebanon in search of the perfect town that would set the stage for Tata’s Earrings. Two distinct locations, the cities of Saida (a predominantly Muslim town) and Biblos (mostly Christian), served as inspiration for the creation of Maya's village. Their cobbled streets and colorful doors epitomized, in my eyes, the diverse and vibrant Mediterranean culture of that Middle Eastern country. Two years and many teas later, Tata’s Earrings is ready to launch with the hope that it will sow a small seed of love, compassion, and understanding.
What inspires you to write?
Inspiration is a crazy thing. It can hit you anywhere and you need to be willing to seize it when it comes.
Tell us about your writing process.
I make it a point to sit down, every morning, to write. It doesn't mean that I'm ready every day or that I know what I'm going to say. Sometimes, I have been playing in my head with the scene for hours. Other times, I go at it completely blind and, somehow, the ideas start flowing. It's just a matter of making the time, getting your tea and music going and tuning to your muse. Much like meditation, I have to say. Yes, I'm a panster!
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Hmmm…I base my characters on living people and that makes it a bit easier. What would she say? It's constantly in my head.
What advice would you give other writers?
Stick to it. Also, don't expect everyone to like your work. Much like you don't expect everyone to love your kids and be proud of them. You just need for the right audience to like your stories. And, rest assured that "the right audience" is usually who you don't expect it to be. That is the most surprising part.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
During the worst days of the refugee crisis (not that it has stopped but, at least the BBC doesn't talk about it as before), I was tormented by the growing Islamophobia and all the stereotypes in the media. It was particularly heartbreaking for me because I had traveled to the middle-east and I knew them to be wrong. I knew I had to do something to shatter some of those misconceptions. Writing and illustrating became my way of changing the outcome even if at a very minute scale.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
E-books, as convenient as they are, will never, in my view, replace the beauty and excitement of holding the pages between your fingers. I grew up on the musky smell of the ancient manuscripts of my father's library. And I thrived, seeing the world in the eyes of a 1930's child through his encyclopedias. In the process, I learned to never open a book fully, not to bend its pages, to treat it with veneration and respect. It was always a silent process, a meditative one. I don't feel the same with electronics.
What do you use?: Professional Editor
What genres do you write?: children's books, youth novel, biographies, poetry
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
Desiree Calderon de Fawaz Home Page Link
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.