For the sixth and final post to wrap up my Latinx Heritage Month Series, today’s feature guest is Amparo Ortiz, an author whose comic appeared in the 2018 Eisner Award-winning anthology titled Puerto Rico Strong and recently released her debut novel, Blazewrath Games.
For today’s post, instead of a full interview we’re doing something a little different to conclude the series and introduce the first ever author-written blog essay here on 24hr.YABookBlog!
However before we delve into her essay, here’s Amparo to introduce a her novel and what it’s all about:
“First of all, thank you for having me on the blog today! As for Blazewrath Games, it’s the story of a seventeen-year-old girl from Puerto Rico who wants to represent her country in the Blazewrath World Cup. The tournament features dragon riders and their steeds, but Lana–my main character–is not a dragon rider and wants to claim the Runner position for her national team. However, there’s a cursed dragon wreaking havoc around the globe, and threatening to unleash more if the Cup isn’t canceled and all dragons are set free from sanctuaries and the Cup itself.”
I then asked Amparo what inspired her debut and whether there was anything in particular she was most excited for readers to discover or see for themselves:
“Sports in general, but soccer in particular! I knew I wanted to write about dragons in our world, but I didn’t know what they would do in our world. It wasn’t until the FIFA World Cup in 2014 that the sport of Blazewrath started to form in my mind. Then it took another year to figure out the “wrath” part of the sport, which also combines martial arts and combat (specifically for Lana’s position).”
“DRAGONS FROM AROUND THE WORLDDDD. Also, a global conspiracy and a magical mystery that was very fun to write!”
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Amparo’s piece on fantasy is what she called “more of an encouragement piece” as she discusses her personal journey writing “The Puerto Rican Fantasy Book” and inspiring writers to add to the literary/fantasy canon:
“During a recent event for Blazewrath Games promotions, I was told that I’d written The Puerto Rican Fantasy Book. It meant that my debut novel is currently the only contemporary fantasy book for young adults that centers around a Puerto Rican character within a world that blends magical elements and our everyday reality. It meant that whenever other Puerto Rican authors–or Latinx authors in general–want to pitch their stories, they could potentially compare them to mine.
To say that this blows my mind is an UNDERSTATEMENT. Not just because I’m humbled by the thought of helping others find space on shelves for their stories, but because how on Earth is this The Puerto Rican Fantasy Book?? That answer is long and layered. I know. But also, I think it’s worth noting how certain tropes–specifically in fantasy–have been written many times over and lauded as The Best… but they’re quite similar. When I realized I wanted to write about dragons, I knew they would be from my country instead of the myriad of European depictions I’ve grown up with. There was never a moment where I asked myself, “Can I write that?”, but I *did* ask myself, “Do readers want this?”
Then the question changed: “What am I adding to canon fantasy to make it reflect what *I* want to see more of?”
The answer was Blazewrath Games, my unapologetic exploration of a young Puerto Rican girl finding her voice and her power through the world’s deadliest sport. I hope more Latinx magical sports stories hit shelves soon. More Latinx magical stories in general, too, please.
I want my Puerto Rican Fantasy Book to be the worst one out there because everyone else’s stories will level up what readers are looking for, which I have no doubt will happen sooner rather than later. So if you want to write about dragons or witchcraft or any other fantastical thing, go for it. Fantasy is for everyone. The more we can push its boundaries, the better it will be.” ― Amparo Ortiz, Oct. 16, 2020
Very recently, I also had a fun opportunity joining CW over at The Quiet Pond in my very FIRST INTERVIEW where I talked about book blogging, my 5-year journey, and lots more!! Read my full interview HERE!! 😉📚💞
Thank you so much to Amparo, Lory, and Lilliam for being guests in my first ever Latinx Heritage Month series. Also, a thank you to all you blog readers out there who visited to celebrate and uplift Latine voices, literature, and storytelling during September/October with me! Hoping to plan something again for 2021 because I truly loved this project and sharing it with each one of you means so much. Thank you! 💕
What Latinx books have you read during LHM? & Have you read Blazewrath Games? 🐲✨