News Column

Dirty Girls Social Club author visits El Paso on Saturday

August 9, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 09--New York Times best-selling author Alisa Valdes will address El Paso women Saturday during a celebration tagged as the second Wise Latina International "Mujeres and Amigas: An Afternoon of Sisterhood."

"I'll talk about my corner of the arts and how it's been empowering for me and my readers and hopefully viewers," Valdes said in a phone interview from Albuquerque, where she lives.

Valdes, 44, an author, journalist and film producer, is billed as the first U.S.-born Latina author to write commercial mainstream women's fiction about successful women who just happen to be Latinas.

She has written 14 novels in the past 10 years, including

young adult novels and the blockbuster debut and critically-acclaimed "The Dirty Girls Social Club," a chic-lit novel.

"I couldn't find the kind of book I wanted to read, and instead of being annoyed by this, I wrote them," she said.

Valdes is scheduled to talk at 1 p.m. Saturday at the International Museum of Art, 1211 Montana. The event, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., costs $20 per person.

She recently published her latest young adult novel, "The Temptation of Demetrio Vigil."

Tired of not seeing positive Hispanic images portrayed in movies or television, Valdes founded her own company to produce content for television and developed her own novels for the big and small screen.

Valdes is busy these days producing and co-directing a film based on "The Dirty Girls Social Club."

Valdes is optimistic mainstream English television and movies in the United States will someday embrace more diversity.

"We're still fighting against the culture that doesn't quite think we belong here, that we're somehow foreign no matter how much we're not," she said. "An important psychological change needs to happen where we stop thinking of ourselves as a minority and start realizing that we're this country's very important bridge to the hemispheric majority."

Cemelli de Aztlan, in charge of social justice programs at the El Paso YWCA, described Valdes as a role model for all women.

"Women of color and Latinas are just emerging now, so we have to embrace them and learn from Latinas that are breaking barriers," she said.

Time magazine once named Valdes as one of the 25 "Most Influential Hispanics" in the United States. The noted author Tom Wolfe described her as "one of the most important social critics of our time."

"The Dirty Girls Social Club" sold more than 700,000 copies in the United States and was published in 11 different languages around the world.

In recent years, Valdes has started to write more for younger, teenage audiences.

"I enjoy writing for young adults and for kids, especially Latino kids," she said. "That's something new for me, going from writing for a primarily female adult audience to now starting to focus on writing for people like my 12-year-old son."

A strong advocate of reading and writing, Valdes often urges young people to "read something great."

"A great piece of writing will inspire you to either delete Microsoft Word from your computer altogether or to sit yourself down in a big old puddle of words and snuffle in them, like a happy little pig," she once said in a blog entry promoting writing.

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(c)2013 El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

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