Angel Baby on Repeat
with Emilly Prado and Funeral For Flaca
#NuevasPaginasconLupita is an expanded edition of the mini get-to-know the book and author interview series on Instagram aimed to "spotlight" Latinx authors with books out in 2021. The goal is to connect readers to new and/or old favorite Hispanic/Latinx/e authors and their books! So give this & every post a share to help us reach more readers!
How does it work?!
Here’s the deal, I came up with a set of casual/random/funny questions to ask each Latinx/e author I interview. For now, the questions will all be the same but maybe in the future I’ll launch this into more specific questions to the author or maybe I’ll turn this series into a mini-podcast or maybe……well, you get it! The possibilities are endless.
If you are new here don’t forget to check out all the other amazing interviews! We also have a really great line-up of guest authors coming up so make sure you don’t miss an interview by subscribing now!
Hey Heyyy Book Franz!
I finished my final semester of graduate school today! It’s taken me a few years (and I still have a thesis to pop out and defend) but the class taking is done for now and to celebrate this moment I wanted to pop in and say HELLO - you’ll be reading more from me more often now :)
This week’s special guest is the author of Funeral for Flaca, a memoir that reads like a mix-tape and one that had me hooked. It’s one of those memoirs I file under “Inspirations to write” and before I take up all of your time (because I could talk about this memoir for a while- I did write about it here!) I’ll hit pause and let you read the interview!
Tell me about your book without telling me about your book - share any literary inspirations behind your book! If there are none, the gap you wanted to fill in the literary canon with your book.
Music was my entry into finding words I could connect with, that made me feel less alone. As a kid, but especially as a teenager, I turned to music to learn about the world and my place in it. Songs reflected back that I wasn’t the only one struggling—to feel loved, to feel a sense of belonging and community, to see the immense beauty in my brownness. The Rose that Grew from Concrete, a poetry collection by Tupac Amaru Shakur, spoke to me like no other book of literature had before. It gave me permission to write more like how I talked, to express deep sadness and vulnerability, to name oppression, and that it was also okay to dream of hope.
And so to be able to have written a whole book, the first spark of true inspiration for Funeral for Flaca stemmed from my love of 2Pac’s music and poetry, my journaling and attempts at poetry. It’s also, of course, a nod to mixtape culture and how we can interweave our many tastes and interests and make them feel like they belong together.
What are two central themes in your book that you connect with the most and why?
Since my book is a memoir-in-essays, every theme is a part of me and has shaped me. But the importance of finding yourself, or the theme of “coming of age,” is at the heart of Funeral for Flaca. More than just finding yourself, my book is about that process being messy and ongoing. We may never finish getting to know ourselves or peeling back our many layers or achieve “healed” as a fixed end point, and that’s okay. Our relationship to self is evolving, like life. We change. That message became especially clear when I revised Funeral for Flaca after having stepped away from the project for two years and learning upon return that my own conclusions and thoughts had shifted. I took that as a good sign, rewrote several endings, and walked away thinking of memoirs as time capsules, tethered to the writing, thanks to ongoing metamorphosis.
If a book was home, where would your home be?
My home would be a radical version of Friendship Park, that binational park on the U.S.-Mexico border, but that floats on a cloud and doesn’t require passports of any kind to enter. Trees and flowerbeds and butterflies and benches would line the park where people would gather and see loved ones without borders or binaries. There would be DJs and dancing and lots of food and comfy couches for when your feet hurt or you wanted to take a nap, and in between sets, bird calls would fill in for the music. Oh! And there’d be a swimming pool where my Abuelita (between her Zumba classes) and other homies would be hanging out doing water aerobics.
If your book was a famous musician who would it be?
Rosie Méndez Hamlin who fronted Rosie and The Originals. Although she’s not a household name (yet?), she wrote “Angel Baby,” a beautiful doo-wop single as a teenager, an ode to her first boyfriend, and it became a Top 40 hit by the time she was 15 years old. I used to listen to this track all the time and cry my eyes out as teenager. It’s thought of a classic Chicano souldie, something cholos might crank while cruising. Rosie was the first Latina to be honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and she even recorded a resonant Spanglish version of “Angel Baby” in 2001 when she was 56. Me encanta. (Thank you, Wikipedia, for holding it down with these additional, important facts. Not on Wikipedia, but very important: I’ll die salty knowing I may never be able to hit her range well enough for a karaoke rendition of my own.) RIP Rosie!
What comfort food could a reader pair with your book?
Morisqueta! It’s the comfort food of my childhood and the countryside where my parents are from in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. Think mountain of steamed rice, frijoles de la olla, pork (or queso when my Mami makes it vegetarian for me) stewed in a blistered-tomato sauce topped with crema, shredded cabbage, a sprinkle of cotija, and chomps of crisp radish in between bites. I also highly suggest the pairing of a cheeseburger (meatless if preferred) and Dr. Pepper, particularly with the essay “Super Nova Girl.”
In what ways has access (or little to no access) to Hispanic/Latinx/e literature defined you as a writer?
As readers who check out my book may learn, I grew up in a white suburb of the Bay Area without access to Latinx culture beyond my family, and that also included wide access to literature by women of color. I remember reading a few excerpts of The House on Mango Street and all of Esperanza Rising in school, plus seeking out the slim Josefina Speaks American Girls book as a kid, but one thing that struck me was how different my life even felt from theirs. The latter take place almost 100 years before I was born, and the former takes place in a very cool, lively city—Chicago. Where was the contemporary third culture/Chicana-who-grew-up-in-the-burbs rendition? I would have loved that. And now, we thankfully have several books like this, including mine. <3
A huge thank you to Emilly Prado for taking the time to chat with me about Funeral For Flaca! Please please make sure you purchase a copy (or request your local library carry a copy) of her book #SupportLatinxLit!
Synopsis for Funeral For Flaca from Futuro Tense Books website:
Funeral for Flaca is an exploration of things lost and found—love, identity, family—and the traumas that transcend bodies, borders, cultures, and generations.
Emilly Prado retraces her experience coming of age as a prep-turned-chola-turned-punk in this collection that is one-part memoir-in-essays, and one-part playlist, zigzagging across genres and decades, much like the rapidly changing and varied tastes of her youth. Emilly spends the late 90’s and early aughts looking for acceptance as a young Chicana growing up in the mostly-white suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area before moving to Portland, Oregon in 2008. Ni de aquí, ni de allá, she tries to find her place in the in between.
Growing up, the boys reject her, her father cheats on her mother, then the boys cheat on her and she cheats on them. At 21-years-old, Emilly checks herself into a psychiatric ward after a mental breakdown. One year later, she becomes a survivor of sexual assault. A few years after that, she survives another attempted assault. She searches for the antidote that will cure her, cycling through love, heartbreak, sex, an eating disorder, alcohol, an ever-evolving style, and, of course, music.
She captures the painful reality of what it means to lose and find your identity, many times over again. For anyone who has ever lost their way as a child or as an adult, Funeral for Flaca unravels the complex layers of an unpredictable life, inviting us into an intimate and honest journey profoundly told with humor and heart by Emilly Prado.
Bio for Emilly Prado from her website:
Emilly Prado is a writer, community organizer, and DJ based in Portland, Oregon. When not writing or teaching, Emilly moonlights as DJ Mami Miami with Noche Libre, the Latinx DJ collective she co-founded in 2017. Her debut essay collection, Funeral for Flaca, was selected as #YosiBookClub summer reading pick and has been called, “Utterly vulnerable, bold, and unique,” by Ms. Magazine. Funeral for Flaca is out now with Future Tense Books and is available wherever books are sold.
Friendly reminder that the best ways you can support Latinx/e authors and Latinx/e literature is by doing the following:
Leave a review for their books on any website that sells books
Request that your local library carry a copy
Purchase a copy of a friend, family member, your nemesis (hey! I’m sure they read too).
Shout about the book on any social media platform or to your friends and family!
Share this interview widely! Word of mouth does wonders for connecting readers to books.