The challenges facing writers today is not only a matter of supply and demand, of competition from other media or from social disinterest in books. These issues have been around for a long time and the solution given to us from Big Literature—which is not only comprised of the major New York houses but also the writer’s conference circuit, MFA programs, and an industry of self-help books for writers—is to produce more, to spend more money attending conferences and schmoozing with industry “insiders” and buying their books, and when all else fails, to attend a MFA program, and if that doesn’t get your book published, to teach at a MFA program.
This system has been in place for decades and not only has it created an atmosphere where writing is seen as an antagonistic, anxiety-inducing practice, where writers compete over neurosis and misery, it also most benefits upper- and middle-class whites who can afford to buy those books and attend those conferences and work unpaid internships in order to get a foot in the door. We live in a world that is increasingly conscious of cultural diversity where audiences want characters who not only represent them, they also want narratives that capture the world in new and exciting ways. The old narrative structures are increasingly being shunned, and the best way to combat this is not only to grant opportunities to ethnically diverse writers, but to also change the way in which those writers approach their art.
Outside of Latino publishers, major presses typically seek out Latino authors who write some variation of immigration and identity literature, where America is the land of hope and promise, and where Latin America is a mythical land of magic or a hellhole in need of escaping. Havens for experimental and genre literature in the Caribbean are practically nonexistent, leading many island-bound authors to self-publish, an endeavor which can be very costly, and with little reward. For Latinos in the States, the situation is not much different, since as was previously mentioned, publishers across the board are most interested in immigration and identity narratives. The few houses that do support more varied and diverse narratives are usually not run by Latinos.
Based in Colorado, La Casita Grande Editores, an imprint of Black Rose Writing, is stepping in to fill the void in Latino Literature for a house that is dedicated to experimental, innovative, genre-busting narratives in English and in Spanish, while providing international distribution through Ingram and Baker & Taylor, allowing our authors to sell their books in libraries, universities, and bookstores large and small. In doing so, we are changing the approach to writing that places productivity over quality through our innovative YouNiversity Project. We believe that writing is a joyous art form, and that joy comes from the confidence one has in their vision. We challenge our authors to not only improve themselves but also improve the communities around them and the lives of artists they meet. At La Casita Grande Editores, publishing is not just a matter of a releasing a book, it is a matter of developing a whole artist ready to take on the world, and take up the questions.