The following is an interview with Mexican American activist, scholar, co-founder of Prickly Pear Collective, and podcast host Alma Zaragoza-Petty regarding the release of the book, Chingona: Owning Your Inner Badass for Healing and Justice, through Broadleaf Books. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Zaragoza-Petty about the creative process of bringing her story to the page, what she hopes that readers will take away from the book, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of Chingona: Owning Your Inner Badass for Healing and Justice! What inspired you to share your story and its inspirational message with readers?
Alma Zaragoza-Petty: My own lived experiences and healing journey were the catalysts for writing Chingona. As a first-generation child of immigrants to this country, growing up in persistent poverty, and witnessing and being the victim of violence and substance abuse, I longed to hear about the multifaceted ways people occupying these intersections came to heal and live thriving lives.
I was tired of a narrative that I also believed for a long time, that centered on the disposability of people like me. I wanted to disrupt that narrative by complicating it, by discussing the roots. I was curious about what it would look like to discuss colonialism and collective trauma as the precursors to intergenerational trauma. I also wanted to rather than feel displaced, find a lineage of afrodesendientes and indigena women that fight back, do not get conquered, and become leaders of practicing joy and survivance in the face of oppression.
The crux of the book is that the world can only be as healed and just as our own internal worlds are. When we allow ourselves to dig deep, grieve, and heal, we can in turn offer a healthy perspective on current political and social issues.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process, and did you find there to be unexpected challenges or surprises in sharing so much of your own voice and experiences in the book?
AZP: The creative process was equally horrifying and exhilarating. As a trained researcher and higher education practitioner, telling a personal narrative through dreams, visions, and memories felt so counterintuitive. But I learned to trust my inner wisdom and surprised myself in the process by realizing that my own ancestors had a similar way of storytelling and knowledge about the world. Sharing my experiences in this manner helped me feel more grounded and centered despite some intimate details I share.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that the book will connect with and impact readers?
AZP: Stories do matter. In stories, we find commonalities in our lived experiences and the human condition. I believe many readers will connect to common painful or unexpected experiences are opportunities for us to integrate more wholly. Rather than seeing these experiences as unwelcome and uncomfortable visitors, readers will be impacted by how we can see these as part of life; part of growth. Scars are not just previous wounds but also proof of healing. What matters about our stories is that we can all grow in loving ourselves well so that we can love each other better.
BD: What makes Broadleaf Books the perfect home for your book?
AZP: Broadleaf Books offered me the opportunity to find my own voice. I love their broad definition of spirituality and exploration of the value of the common good. They support many would-be theologians, feminists, and radicals, so it was the perfect home for my book! Working with them has been a very enjoyable process.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
AZP: My biggest project right now is my book launch on November 1 and the corresponding event on November 5 in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles! I am super excited to celebrate with the community this accomplishment.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Chingona: Owning Your Inner Badass for Healing and Justice and your other work?
AZP: Follow me on IG (@thedoczp).