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Women writing for a change: Andrea González, the voice behind Bodies of Sand

In this post series, we've been sharing many details about our saga, Bodies of Sand, but not about who is behind them. We think it is about time the world starts acknowledging Andrea’s name because if the message is the key, Andrea is our locksmith.

By the time she had the first interview to join PepperBerry, we knew that we needed her: she was confident in her concept of writing as a problem-solving skill, as a tool for facing challenges and adapting to the themes and requirements of our formats. In that conversation, we discovered that she started writing in her youth, which made us consider her a focused person. Now, after around half a year working with her, we are glad for the decision to make her part of our team, and we want you to get to know her as well as we do.

Andrea González, author of the graphic novel Bodies of sand

Dancing to the tune of the literary mermaids: introduction to the Mexican literary world

Andrea started writing when she was young, but the decision to become a writer had yet to be made; she had heard that writers' lives were doomed for the low income they perceive in Mexico. In high school, she took a creative writing course, and the teachers she had saw potential in her and her classmates; they published her and even gave her the opportunity to take new lessons in the Claustro de Sor Juana, a private school in Mexico City. In that way, she had the chance to get to know more about the literary environment; the writer Ricardo Bernal and the poet Roxana Elvridge-Thomas, along with other creatives, became her teachers, and she got access to books and publications of contemporary authors; Andrea even got to know in person some authors, being Amparo Davila the one that brought her to be more impressed, since she has been one of the most famous writers in Mexico, and, like Andrea herself, Amparo's practice was centered on fantastic literature.

Being surrounded by writers, as teachers, guests at events she attended, and classmates, Andrea realized that being a writer was not what she was told, that a good life could be possible as a writer. The moment was perfect since she had to choose a major, and the chosen one was Hispanic Language and Literature at UNAM. A young Andrea decided to find out what was behind the mermaids' melody.

"Real writers": what does that mean?

Suppose you ask Andrea what a writer's labor is. In that case, she answers that she likes to see it in the least romantic way possible. So, a writer's work is to have a clear message and share it in the best way possible. But to conclude, she went a long way, learning that all those romantic ideas about what a writer was and did weren’t the reality. "I think the hardest thing when I started was to romanticize reading and writing because that made it impossible to reach the expectations I put on myself. It made me try to follow others' path, and later, I understood that is not how it should be."

Because of the experiences at the beginning of her career, Andrea had the idea of a division between people who had a "day job" and wrote on the side and the "real writers" who were exclusively writing. However, she grew and learned that the time dedicated to practice doesn't define someone's value as a writer. That's why she says that she is privileged to reach that point at which her only job is to write and to make that possible, she took all the tools life had to offer.

All work and no play... Is it difficult to make a living as a writer?

Following a path requires a strong will; Andrea knows and practices it. Since college, she took all the subjects related to improving and knowing all she could about how to write. Understanding the techniques, the structures, the tone, and learning how to shape the words to make the message clear to the readers was what she aimed for during all her professional formative years.

"Being a writer is hard work," says Andrea, and the effort includes investing time and money in courses because she decided she wanted to know how to write all kinds of texts, not just narrative ones, and that’s why she has the formation to write for children, to make both theater and movie scripts, and blogs for marketing. All this practice led her to understand what kind of writer she was: a conceptual writer, meaning she can take concepts and build the text needed around them.

Knowing who you write for is fundamental to deciding how to portray the message. Once Andrea understood the technique, she felt a lack of contact with them, with the readers. During the pandemic, she found workshops focusing on the purpose of the texts, what the readers felt, and how the message could be interpreted. Especulativas was one of them: an important space for women focused on sci-fi, which Andrea confides to us is her favorite genre. These groups helped her explore her writing more: to write more for herself since she could do what she wanted without being judged as corny, something she considered a disadvantage in the past and now understands as a vital quality due to the possibility the workshop offered her.

Thanks to this experience, she could grow as an author, connecting both as something needed because the technique should not be all a writer looks for; the ethics behind writing and behind the messages should also be an essential part of the labor of a writer.

Season with pepper: Writing for PepperBerry Publishing

Language is a communication tool; hence, it is no different from writing; that's why learning English, the language you can find anywhere, came from a place of joy for Andrea. Thanks to this approach, which made her learn more intuitively and playfully, she downloaded an app to make pen pals. Writing to them eventually made her start writing another kind of text in this language. All this, the connections made in the workshops, and the learning of a different language created a domino effect that brought her to Pepperberry because she found out about the job through a friend she made in Especulativas, submitted her resume, got interviewed, and got the job.

Working as a writer implies learning to distance oneself from the job; that’s another thing Andrea had learned. It is a hard truth, and it is because most of the time, the message belongs to others: "If I don't establish a distance between what I believe and what I'm told to write, this job becomes impossible," she told us when talking about her past experiences as a writer. In PepperBerry Publishing, she got the chance to pitch her story; the company values aligned with hers, which granted her approval for her idea. The green light came with a blank check, resulting in the first saga she has worked on.

Writing for a change: writing a utopia

Knowing why we do what we do helps us keep focused: "The only thing I can do is try to inspire through what I write," says Andrea. That’s why every time she has the opportunity, she writes not only sci-fi but utopias. She believes in the possibility of a better future if we leave behind cynicism, pessimism, and nihilism and start acting and being responsible for our actions. That is why her story talks about a utopia resulting from a long history of learning and improving: we see how it’s constructed and where it comes from, and it all seems so organic because it had a lot of work and research behind it. Andrea's work, all her preparation, all the courses, all of it shows how the story develops to not just tell but show the message.

Stories are powerful; they can transmit messages better than pamphlets because it’s easier to empathize and see the concepts grounded in some sort of reality; that is what Andrea did in this first issue. The future could be brighter than some make it seem; it means a lot of work; let’s start with finding hope Andrea imprints into Bodies of Sand.

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