L.A. Libros Fest: Interview With Pablo Cartaya

Dinorah Pinelo, Senior Librarian, Catalog,
Portrait of Pablo Cartaya
My heritage inspires everything about me creatively.

Pablo Cartaya is a Cuban-American award-winning author, speaker, actor and educator. His middle-grade novel, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, was named a 2018 Pura Belpré Honor Book, his second novel, Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish, is in development as a motion picture and his most recent novel, Each Tiny Spark, is a 2020 Schneider Family Award winner.

Pablo is one of the featured authors at this year's Los Angeles Libros Festival, a free bilingual book festival for the whole family. L.A. Libros Fest for Kids & Families will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on Saturday, September 26.

What does heritage mean to you? How do you identify and why?

Heritage means knowing yourself. Understanding that you come from somewhere. That you have a history that can be claimed. I identify with my abuela and my abuelo’s Cuban history. The gifts they passed on to me have helped me better understand who I am. I carry them with me as a formation of my own identity.

¿Piensas regularmente en inglés o en español? ¿Cuál prefieres?

Regularmente en inglés pero trato de hablar lo más posible en español. Especialmente con mis hijos! Prefiero vivir con los dos idiomas constantemente bailando juntos en mis conversaciones.

How does your heritage inspire your creativity?

My heritage inspires everything about me creatively. It’s like air. You don’t question whether you need it to breathe, it’s an involuntary act done in order to survive. This is how I view my heritage - it gives me oxygen to breathe air into my creativity. It gives me life.

I preserve my heritage by knowing that my voice matters. That my stories are worth telling.

¿Cómo aparece tu herencia en tus obras?

Mi herencia aparece en todos aspectos de mis obras. En los personajes (siempre tengo una abuelita en mis obras), el ambiente del escenario, hasta la propia comida! Mi herencia está en todo lo que escribo.

¿Cuál es el regalo más grande que te ha brindado tu herencia?

El regalo más grande que me ha brindado mi herencia es conocer a mis abuelos y todo lo que me enseñaron cuando estaban vivos. Me dieron el regalo más lindo que se puede dar a un nieto - historia. Con eso, pude entender quien soy.

How do you preserve your heritage as a writer?

I preserve my heritage as a writer by being unapologetic in showcasing my culture, family, and community in everything I write. I preserve my heritage by knowing that my voice matters. That my stories are worth telling.

Books by Pablo Cartaya

El épico fracaso de Arturo Zamora
Cartaya, Pablo

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
Cartaya, Pablo

Each tiny spark
Cartaya, Pablo