BOOKS

Breakthrough Interviews: Andrea Mosqueda Brings Representation to RGV Queer Youth

Words By Aime Mira 
Edited by Josue Ramirez and Abigail Vela

 

As the tale often goes, growing up in the Rio Grande Valley is often explained as a “boring” place where nothing ever happens. I think we can all relate to that phrase, at some point you may have even said it yourself. High school graduations are like the Olympics, seniors preparing for their last lap before they GTFO to the “more cultured” cities like Austin and San Antonio, but one thing we might all agree on is growing up in the RGV is anything but normal. I mean, huapangos at homecoming, the constant “nambe sir,” and that one guy who sells Hot Cheetos from his bag are all unique to here. 

Though we never really see media portrayals of the RGV depicting our simple slice-of-life stories, our culture and region are often labeled as “uneducated,” “in need of saving,” and “dangerous.” So when I saw Andrea Mosqueda, San Benito native and newly published author, hitting headlines with her book, Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster (JYLBD), I was excited to see how she would tackle the lack of queer Latinx representation in media and the RGV. JYLBD follows Maggie Gonzalez, an angsty teen growing up in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, who needs a date to her sister’s quinceañera (can relate so hard), and she is quickly faced with having to discover her identity, love dramas, and the impending future.

Hi, I am so happy we could meet! Okay, first things first, who are you and where are you from…

Hi! I’m Andrea Mosqueda and Just Your Local Bi-Sexual Disaster, is my first book and I am from San Benito, Texas originally so (956, woo!)


Yes, we love to see that representation! Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind this book…


So, I had just moved to NYC when I first wrote it. I had just started my first BIG girl job. Moving to New York made me miss home because it’s really different (like obviously)…like everything sucks, and now I have to pay my own bills and make my own doctors appointments soooo, I was like damn, I wish I was 17 again, I just wanted to feel like a kid again and experience all those emotions that people go through like dealing with how to navigate your really deep feelings for people when some of them are romantic and some of them are not. 

 

Were there any elements to the border narrative that you wanted to steer away from?

I sorta wanted to drop myself back into the family because I missed it, and I wanted to have this very sweet slice-of-life story that was just like low stakes. A lot of the narratives that are being pushed by mainstream publishing right now are narratives of border trauma and generational pain. While those stories have their places, they are not the only stories that exist. It’s not like people on the border are just constantly suffering.


I wanted to counteract that like propaganda that is being pushed by Abbot, Musk, and people who are trying to destroy the community and pick at the bones of it. I WANTED to counteract those border trauma stories with a cute slice-of-life story that involves generational trauma, police brutality, and queerphobia, but it’s not about THAT. It’s just a girl trying to live her life… chilling… and even though she faces struggles from systemic oppression, it’s not the ONLY part of her identity. 

It’s amazing that you set out to write a slice-of-life piece instead of the common tale. Maggie is growing up in San Benito just like you did. Which parts of your own life did you include within her story?

So what I took from my own life…uhh… is it’s hard to write a story that’s set in a place you live because people always think it’s autobiographical. I tried to keep everything as far away as depictions of real people or situations I have been through and just take the universal story of the feelings of confusions. The feelings of feeling very deeply about the people around you and the feelings of uncertainty for your future, and like being unsure about if the people you love will love you when their image of you changes. 

So I wanted to take those universal feelings to deliver them and translate them into a way people could see and latch onto, so I took the aspects of growing up bi and closted bi and all the things I was wondering at the time:

“Oh I have all these intense feelings now because I’ve entered puberty, and I don’t know if I can trust my own intuition on whatever I am doing?”

“Do I have a crush on my bestfriend, or do I just feel very deeply for her?”

“Do I want to date my ex, or do I not want to?”

“Did I fall in love with the new girl, or do I just think she is cool?”

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN… and taking all the feelings of familial pressures, college dreams and navigating the process of figuring out how to carry your family’s legacy and represent them well and fulfill their dreams for you; while wondering what your dreams are for yourself. 

So I took those big universal feelings and the setting and gave Maggie all these feelings and made her deal with them. 


How do you feel being a published author?


…It feels so weird. A lot of people use the metaphor of having a baby. I don’t like using that metaphor because *whispers* It’s not a baby, but it is a baby. 

 

It’s like whenever people ask me if I am going to have a baby. I say “I already have a book baby”, but it’s weird because it’s like a chunk of my heart. Even if it’s not about me, it’s a place that I loved and this place that I wanted people to see.

Working in publishing, were you prepared for criticism by reviewers?

 

I think the book engages a lot of the reactions for reviews because I work in publishing, so I know how those things work. So I was ready for the pushback, which I got, like “your character is not painted in a good light” or “she doesn’t have good morals,” and a lot of characters that are nonwhite and non straight in the book world get really crushed by reviewers when they make a questionable choices because they are held to this standard that white straight characters are not, where they are not allowed to mess up because then it casts a bad light on the rest of the community, so that was a little bit easier to stomach because I was kinda more prepared for it. 

What about the RGV audience – what are you concerned they may say?

What I am most nervous about is people from the Valley reading it and I am wondering what kind of pushback there will be because there are a variety of ways people in the Valley live. The book that I wrote is the way that I experienced it. So I think I am most nervous because they are my people and I want them to like it, and I wrote it for them. 

But I also come from a place knowing that if some people don’t like it or if some people from the Valley are like, “I could write a better book,” I’m like “Yes do it! Write a better book!” 

With this book you run the risk of people being like, ”that’s not how it’s like,” and it’s true I didn’t set out to tell the tell-all story of how it is to grow up in the valley because we all have different stories. So I wanted this story to be one of hopefully many that people in the Valley feel empowered to publish. I just wanted people to see that it’s possible for you to tell your stories and be recognized and have them reach far.

How does it feel to be a pioneer of sorts helping young adults and kids navigate their journey?

It feels beautiful, I really really (deep sighs of gratitude) I really like it. There’s a lot of trepidation, but I feel really good. This is the only thing I know how to do.. I don’t know how to do math, I can’t do science… I am not going to law school, but I love writing. This is the way I want to give back. 

I think a lot of people leave the RGV like “Fuck the Valley,” and I never wanted to be one of those people who left and didnt give anything back. I wanted to put myself in the position in which I could be someone who could help kids in the Valley feel empowered and feel like they recognize themselves because representation matters, and it matters so much. When you can’t see yourself in the media being depicted as having a happy ending, and the only depictions are being deported, losing your home, it can make you feel hopeless and like there is nothing for you because you can’t see a path besides the one people are forcing you to go on. They can write their own endings, and they don’t have to settle for what white media has to say about them. 

I wanted people to know that it’s possible to have happy endings, and even though this is a fictional book, it still matters. There is a lot of people out there that will tell others that they cant have a happy life being queer, a person of color, or a queer person of color. I wanted to have this depiction, and it feels really good to give back in that way. Knowing that, I left to put myself in a better position so that I could give something back to my home. 

People forget in the Valley there is joy and love and life, there is boredom and happiness.

Andrea Mosqueda is continuing her journey in writing and publishing in New York City, all the while proudly representing the RGV. She is currently in the process of writing a second book.

Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster is available online. Order your copy today!

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