author – activist – faculty – mom
One year, nine months, and five days ago, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. The island will never be the same, and those of us in the Puerto Rican Diaspora watched in horror, many of us losing loved ones, and wondered what more we could do. I’ll never forget that feeling of helplessness and disconnection.
As a writer, I wondered how I could help, beyond sending money. I was working on a novel at the time, my 4th Justice Hustlers book. I was floundering around for something else to write about Puerto Rico, something that would be relevant. An article? A spoken word piece? A personal essay?
And then it hit me: the Justice Hustler novel was my main writing project. I already had a contract with Kensington Books to publish another novel. I needed to change course and write about the hurricane. But how was I going fit this international disaster into the structure of a heist romance novel? I had no idea, but I was determined.
On December 26th, I asked my editor what she thought of the idea. When she came back to the office on January 3rd, she gave me the green light. So I wrote this book in less than a year. I went to Puerto Rico in June of 2018 to research, and I read everything I could about the hurricane, including Naomi Klein’s The Battle for Paradise. I asked a lot of people for help.
This is how I managed to write the first novel to be published about Hurricane Maria. The book is far from perfect. All the last minute revisions means it still has a couple typos. But I’m proud of my work and above all, I’m proud of my people. Colonization will not destroy us. The title SIDE CHICK NATION comes from the status that the protagonist has at the beginning of the book. She keeps hooking up with guys who are married. This is actually a step up from her teens when she had a violent pimp. The story about young women who are sexually exploited is that they are “ruined” or that their lives are over. But Dulce García is a survivor. The people of Puerto Rico are survivors, and all of us in diaspora are survivors of colonization. While the US keeps coming to destroy our people, we continue to resist. With everything we have.
SIDE CHICK NATION is my latest offering in the Puerto Rican resistance.
If you have time, you should send this blog link via Twitter to my friend Amitav Ghosh the acclaimed anti-colonialist from India, now living in Brooklyn since 1990 with his American wife writer Deborah Baker and their two adult children, author of new climate, immigrants, colonialism magic realism clifi novel titled Gun Island. He will love your novel the first novel ever about hurricane Maria. He is online 247 at Twitter feed @ghoshamitav