The National Magazine of the Successful American Latino: Writing her way to surreal success

Writing her way to surreal success – Leader of the Future

Rick Laezman

Erika Mendoza

Hispanic Heritage Regional Youth Award Winner

Los Angeles, CA

It all started with a Tamora Pierce novel. When Erika Mendoza was twelve years old, her mother took her to the library to pique her interest in books. She picked up something by the teenage fantasy fiction author and hasn’t stopped reading since.

Now as a high school senior, Erika wants to launch her own career as an author. She is a big fan of the fantasy genre (Think Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter) and, like Pierce, wants to write books with female protagonists. “It was a real eye opener,” she says of reading her favorite author’s novels. “I had never read fantasy with strong female characters.”

The bug appears to have bitten Erika even before her mother introduced her to the wonders of reading. “I wrote short stories when I was eight years old,” she explains.

Luckily for her, she saved all her unfinished work. Earlier this year, she was honored with a Hispanic Heritage Regional Youth Award in the Literature/ Journalism category. She distinguished herself in part by submitting excerpts from a fantasy-based novel she had started writing two years earlier.

Recently she and five other Los Angeles-area students received their Heritage Awards at an event held at the swanky Beverly Hills Hotel. Prominent Latinos in entertainment and local politics attended, and Liz Torres of television’s Gilmore Girls served as mistress of ceremonies. The star-studded affair gave Erika yet another moment of self-discovery. Sounding very much like the protagonist, she proclaims, “I realized that Hispanics can make it out there.”

COPYRIGHT 2002 Ferraez Publications of America Corp.

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