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AUGUST'S MUST-READS: TOP 5 PICKS FOR 2023!

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN VORAKA | ISSUE: AUG 2023

Article Published on: 22 AUG 2023 | www.vorakamagazine.com


As summer slowly transitions into fall, there's no better time to cozy up with a good book and explore new worlds, ideas, and perspectives. If you're on the hunt for fascinating reads, look no further! Voraka Literature have curated a list of the top 5 must-read books for August 2023 that will keep you engaged, entertained, and enlightened. So, let's set out on this adventure together, exploring the amazing world of books. In this article, we'll discover the endless wonders that words can bring to life and find the magic hidden within the pages of these special books we've chosen.


1. 'THE NEEDLE AND THE DAMAGE DONE' by DR. PATRICK TREACY

BOOK 1. 'THE NEEDLE AND THE DAMAGE DONE' by DR. PATRICK TREACY
Available on Amazon

The Needle and the Damage Done is the story of a boy from a small Irish village who became an adventurer, multi\-award-winning doctor, and physician to the stars. Part travelogue, part thriller, part celebrity tell\-all, the memoir is a whirlwind of adventure and a fascinating insight into the colorful life of Dr Patrick Treacy.

Cosmetic doctor Patrick Treacy grew up in rural Northern Ireland during The Troubles. Determined to become a doctor, he raised money for medical school in Dublin by smuggling cars from Germany to Turkey. He studied biochemistry at Queen's University Belfast and medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons. While working in a Dublin hospital, he was accidentally jabbed with a needle from an HIV patient. He took blood test after blood test for many years until he was confirmed negative. Initially overwhelmed by the experience, he moved to New Zealand, away from everyone who knew what he was going through: his girlfriend and his colleagues. Thus, he began a peripatetic existence, working as a doctor around the world.

In Saddam Hussein's Baghdad, Treacy was arrested and imprisoned, spending days wondering whether he was going to be hanged as a spy. He worked as a ship's surgeon in California and with the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Australia. On returning to Dublin, Treacy set up the Ailesbury Clinic where he pioneered the emergent field of cosmetic dermatology, championing treatments regarding the use of botulinum toxin and dermal fillers. His award-winning research brought him numerous international accolades Mmmwinning research brought him numerous international and many celebrity patients, including the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson, who came flocking to his door.

Central to this memoir is Treacy's personal journey: his efforts to escape the conflict of The Troubles, cope with the fear that he may have contracted HIV, get over his lost love, and survive the crippling Irish recession. Most of all, it gives us a fascinating insight into his award-winning research on the influence of Botox ® on the brain and how he developed protocols to reverse the damage being done to patients' faces as a result of the complications of dermal fillers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AUTHOR DR, PATRICK TREACY

Dr. Patrick Treacy was awarded the Top Aesthetic Practitioner in the World 2019 at the MyFaceMyBody Global Awards (Las Vegas). He won the Doctor of the Year UK 2019 (Las Vegas) and Doctor of the Year UK and Ireland 2018 at the Safety in Beauty Diamond Award (London). He won the Royal Society of Medicine (London) Research Poster Award 2019. He is among a few doctors in the world to have won the coveted AMEC Trophy three times (Paris 2014 and 2016, Monaco 2019) for varied research relating to the use of stem cells and platelets in treating cancer cachexia and reversing skin necrosis. He won the MyFaceMyBody Trophy in London (2016) for medical research and was Highly Commended (London 2012 and 2013) for studies relating to the use of platelet-rich plasma, growth signaling factors, and 633nm red light in both facial rejuvenation and hair transplant. These types of procedures are now popularised and being used by clinicians all around the world. He was given the CCME Medal for Excellence in contributions to Aesthetic Medicine (Mexico 2016) and was Highly Commended in the Doctor of the Year Category (London 2016).


Dr. Patrick Treacy is recognized as one of the most influential aesthetic practitioners in the world being named for the third time amongst the MyFaceMyBody Ultimate 100 Global Aesthetic Leaders(Las Vegas 2019, Los Angeles 2018, London 2017). He received the MyFaceMyBody Specialist Award (London 2018) for research contributions to the field of Aesthetic Medicine. He was awarded a Laureate in Aesthetic Medicine by the Azerbaijani College of Medicine and given the Beauty & Anti-Ageing Trophy (Baku 2017) for contributions to the field of Aesthetic Medicine. He was awarded the 1st AIDA Trophy for his research in Aesthetic Medicine (Abu Dhabi 2017). His research has strongly influenced this specialist area where he has developed global protocols relating to dermal filler complications and wound healing, as well as pioneering techniques for HIV facial lipodystrophy facial endoprostheses, and radiosurgery venous thermocoagulation. He won both the Irish Healthcare Award for Medical Research (Dublin 2017) and the British College of Aesthetic Medicine Award for Medical Research (London 2017). Dr Treacy was Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Royal Society of Medicine (London) Aesthetic Congress 2019, Chairman of the Irish Association of Cosmetic Doctors, and the Irish Representative of the British Association of Cosmetic Medicine. He serves on the editorial boards of five international aesthetic journals. He is the author and co-author of many articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has contributed to chapters of medical books. Dr. Treacy is a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and the Royal Society of Arts (London). Dr. Patrick Treacy is the Chairman of the Ailesbury Humanitarian Foundation and is the driving force behind countless humanitarian efforts that impact the lives of children in communities across Africa, Haiti, and the Third World. To this end, he has opened orphanages in Monrovia, Liberia, and Mirebalais, Haiti. He practices cosmetic medicine in his clinics in Dublin and Cork. He is an advanced aesthetic trainer and has trained over 3,500 doctors and nurses from around the world. He has been featured on CNN, Dr Drew, RTÉ, TV3, Sky News, BBC, and Newsweek.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DR. PATRICK TREACY

How did winning the Top Aesthetic Practitioner award in 2019 influence your writing journey?

Winning such a prestigious award both enhanced my credibility and authority as an expert in the field. This encouraged me to write more confidently about various topics related to aesthetic medicine, especially in ‘The Evolution of Aesthetic Medicine’. The award attracted more attention to my work, making me more well-known within the medical and aesthetic communities. This increased visibility motivated me to share my knowledge and experiences through writing to reach a broader audience. A prestigious award brought fulfillment. Writing expressed my passion and shared my journey with others effectively.


Have you ever incorporated futuristic facial rejuvenation techniques into your storytelling?

Because I deal mostly in no-fiction, there have been no futuristic facial rejuvenation techniques incorporated into my storytelling.


Tell us, how your humanitarian efforts impacted your literary works?

To continue reading the full interview, click here to download the August 2023 issue.


2. 'PARADISE ON EARTH WITH WORDS - COLLECTION 3: LOVE TO LIVE' by AUTHOR ERIC SCOTT GRANDA

'PARADISE ON EARTH WITH WORDS - COLLECTION 3: LOVE TO LIVE' by AUTHOR ERIC SCOTT GRANDA
Collection 1 - Available on Amazon

"Love to Live," the third collection of the "Paradise on Earth with Words" anthology, sets ablaze a radiant bonfire of love and romance. Within these verses, an intricate thread weaves a path, igniting sparks that sizzle and resonate like a lit fuse. Amid these pages, a beacon of hope illuminates the journey, guiding experiences toward a deeper resonance. It's a journey that unfolds between men and women, emerging from the ember of feelings ignited during the dating phase, leading towards the forging of relationships and the cultivation of deep-seated sentiments.

The collection sets out on a journey through the intricate choreography of courtship and partnership. It commences with the initial stirrings of attraction, evolving into a symphony of profound emotions. In the middle of these verses, couples navigate the delicate fabric of discovery, revealing moments of vulnerability, genuine connection, and shared laughter. Compatibility becomes a cornerstone, anchoring relationships in mutual understanding and shared growth. Unpredictable twists grace the path as couples journey through companionship's landscape. Unexpected moments bloom like flowers in a gentle breeze, culminating in the crescendo of marriage's celebration. It's a melody of joy, a realization of being with the right person, a fusion of souls transcending the bounds of time. Through the unity of marriage, two people become co-authors of a shared destiny, welcoming the very essence of soulmates.

Throughout history, expressions of affection have adorned the canvas of human connection. This anthology traverses the epochs, unveiling the myriad ways affection has been conveyed across cultures and generations. From grand gestures to subtle nuances, the collection showcases the treasured elaborate artistry of winning over the hearts of beloved people.

At its heart, this anthology is a declaration of the notion that love completes the human spirit. It's the force that infuses life with vibrancy, propelling people to progress, excel, and chase their aspirations. The devotion between two souls infuses life with purpose, nurturing a desire to ensure the happiness of those held dear. This anthology transcends words, unveiling human experiences, emotions, and connections. It mirrors life's dance, inviting readers to explore. As love's intricacies emerge, "Love to Live" inspires courtship, partnership, and bonds—a transformative expedition. Anticipation grows for the forthcoming exceptional anthology, welcoming the treasured crafted beauty within.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AUTHOR ERIC SCOTT GRANDA

Eric Scott Granda has dedicated close to two decades to crafting poignant poetry that lingers in the hearts of readers. Commencing his journey at 19, his verses traverse a vast terrain of themes—ranging from the expansive ocean to societal intricacies, love's nuances, art's allure, the spiritual realm, everyday encounters, and the transformative power of education. His poetic prowess gained prominence with recognition from The International Society of Poets. His work found a home in the anthology "A Celebration of Poets," serving as a confirmation of his literary impact. Moreover, he contributed to "Timeless Voices: America at the Millennium," published by poetry.com, weaving his voice into a larger poetic narrative. The Famous Poet Society featured his work in "A Treasury of Great Poems," further solidifying his position in the literary landscape.

Recent anthologies have also welcomed Granda's verses. "Locked Hearts," from Manda Publishers, and "A World of My Words," from House of Publishing Manda Publishers, showcase his evolving literary journey. Beyond the written word, he engaged with his craft at a poetry symposium by the International Society of Poets, gaining recognition from the Library of Congress.

His artistry transcends the page through open-mic readings. Two collections, "Oceanic" and "Social Society," under the "Paradise on Earth with Words" series, mirror life's undulations, and human connections. These collections debuted at UK Book 2023 and are set for the Manila Book Fair in September 2023.

Eric Granda's literary journey radiates as a confirmation of his steadfast dedication and profound artistic sensitivity. With an unchanging commitment, he transforms ordinary words into intricate poems of emotion and thought, inviting readers to fully engage with his poetic landscapes. His ability to seamlessly interlace diverse themes, from the profound to the everyday, demonstrates a depth of understanding that deeply resonates with those who connect with his work.

In the digital arena, Granda's work is accessible on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart. "Aspirational Goals," a collection, adorns virtual shelves alongside upcoming releases. His third collection, "Love to Live," perpetuates his exploration of life's facets, assuring his continued influence on literature's fabric.


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR ERIC SCOTT GRANDA

How did you discover your passion for writing memorable poetry?

My journey toward discovering a passion for writing memorable poetry began gradually. After spending time reading, I found myself compelled to express my feelings through writing. What started as mere emotions gradually evolved into profound reflections on the experiences that shape our lives. This creative process has become an integral part of my identity, and I continue to channel my thoughts and emotions into writing poetry that resonates with others.


Tell us about the themes that inspire your poetry, from the ocean to everyday experiences.

I traveled for some time on the high seas and spent a period of time on a cargo ship that brought me closer to knowing how it is to know about the ocean, that it became like a time not forgotten. It helped me reflect on the experiences I had then, and now, when I write about everyday experiences, there's about what exists about understanding, reason, and common sense.


What inspired your collections "Paradise on Earth with Words" and "Aspirational Goals"?

To continue reading the full interview, click here to download the August 2023 issue.


3. 'DARK OBSESSIONS' by AUTHOR DELPHINE MCCLELLAND

book 'DARK OBSESSIONS' by AUTHOR DELPHINE MCCLELLAND
Available on Amazon

Dark Obsessions, Author Delphine's debut novel is not your typical Paranormal Romance Novel. With adult themes and dark content, Dark Obsessions is a story that takes a deep dive into how fear, jealousy, and hate can play a starring role in developing the monsters that lurk in the shadows. What if vampires were not intended to be evil, demonic creatures? What if they learned how to be evil vial creatures because that is what they were forced to become? Dark Obsessions explores this very idea while taking the reader on a thrilling ride through the life and mind of Kairo and Skylar.

Skylar Montgomery was born into a life of privilege, power, and wealth. Like her mother, she was a socialite, raised to be a proper woman who married a proper man. Skylar had other plans for her life. She was not like her mother or anyone in her family. Skylar was obsessed with books and the things that go bump in the night. The supernatural world made Skylar come alive and wished that the world that she read about and dreamed about was real. Vampires were her favorite of all the supernatural creatures. Skylar wanted them to be real because she had dreams of becoming one. On the annual Montgomery Family vacation Skylar’s world was turned upside down. Her life would be changed forever when she laid eyes on Kairo.

Kairo was not your typical creature of the night. Blood was not the force that drove him to do the things that he did. For Kairo, it was the fear and the screams from his little mice that made his heart race with excitement. Kairo was on a mission to find a new playground when he stumbled upon Charlotte, North Carolina. A city free of the watchful eye of the Council and a city that had an odd effect on him. The energy was unlike anything that Kairo had ever felt before. The energy was strong and powerful and called out to him. Kairo was determined to find out what that energy was and when he did he too would be changed forever.

Dark Obsessions has been featured in two indie magazines. It won first place in the 2022 American Fiction Awards in the Romance Paranormal/ Supernatural category as well as two third-place wins in the BookFest Awards in the Fantasy-Dark and Fantasy-Paranormal & Urban categories. Some readers have described Dark Obsessions as Twilight meets 50 Shades of Gray with a dash of Saw. Dark Obsessions is available for purchase in both paperback and Kindle versions. Get your copy today and we wish you an enjoyable experience throughout the narrative journey!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AUTHOR DELPHINE MCCLELLAND POSING

Delphine McClelland was born in Statesville, North Carolina where her love and passion for books progressed, flourished and grew. As a child, she was known to bug her sister to read to her everyday day until she could read on her own. The many fairy tales fueled her wild imagination that later shaped who she was and how she saw the world. With each new book, she was taken on a new and exciting adventure all from the comforts of her own room. Books became her world.

As time moved on Delphine continued her love of reading while she found a new and equally exciting passion; bones and the study of human remains. This new passion led her to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where she studied and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. While at UT she had the pleasure of volunteering at the Forensic Anthropology Center where she helped process human remains. While chasing this new dream it seemed that she had put her books away until life threw her a curveball.

When she found herself displaced from her job and her mother passed away she thought about what next. It was during this dark time that she once again found a passion for reading as an escape from the real world. Once again books took her own countless adventures that were created and designed by someone else. As life started to look up again a fellow coworker gave her the best idea. He suggested that she stop living in others' adventures and create her own. It was on the hills of that idea that she wrote her first adult paranormal romance novel. Dark Obsessions was a dream that she never knew she wanted but one that she fought to have. It was a labor of love and one that she credits her friends, coworkers, and family for. Without them, this work of fiction would not exist at all.

When she is not writing Delphine can be found spending time with her family. She has two sisters who push her and encourage her every day and two brothers who have her back. Her dad is the best and her eight nieces and nephews light up her world. Her other hobbies include coloring, watching movies, reading of course, and rooting for the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday and the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. She also attends Throne of Grace Ministries.


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR DELPHINE MCCLELLAND

What childhood memories in Statesville, North Carolina sparked your love for books?

Statesville, NC, was and is a small town with not much to do. Growing up there, I was the youngest of 5 children, and while I had friends, my family was whom I spent most of my time with. My middle sister introduced me to books when she took me to the public library. That is where my love of books started. I had not learned how to read yet, and she read me the same fairy tale book for months, and my imagination grew and developed from those stories. That book took me everywhere and created a new world for me, and I never had to leave my room.


How did studying human remains influence your writing journey?

Studying human remains forced me to read and write. To work in the field of Anthropology means to read and write, and while it is a different writing style, I was prepared to write. My writing journey took me on a different path when my plans for a career in Forensic Anthropology changed. My mom passed away unexpectedly, and being away from family was not an option for me.


Who played a crucial role in supporting you during the creation of your novel?

To continue reading the full interview, click here to download the August 2023 issue.


4. 'THROUGH THE ETHER' by AUTHOR ZARA TAGNAC


BOOK Through the ether BY AUTHOR ZARA TAGNAC
Available on Amazon

"Through the Ether" by author Zara Tagnac is a dreamlike chapbook that explores aspects of the universe and ourselves that cannot be perceived with our physical senses, yet still have a significant impact on our lives. Each poem sits at a crossroads where the mystical and mundane collide. The question is: which one will beckon you deeper into your journey through inner space?

Some examples of the themes explored in this book are the impacts of our past lives on the present moment, the complexity of ancestry, astral projection, and rediscovering parts of ourselves we’ve been conditioned to suppress.

"Through the Ether" is a comforting book of poems that aims to help people deal with their inner troubles. The poems create a sort of calming path using words, both spoken and unspoken, to make troubled thoughts feel better. Poetry has a special way of touching deep emotions. When a poem really speaks to your heart, it makes you understand things in a deep and meaningful way. Zara's words in this book work like magic, turning thoughts and feelings into something real that you can almost touch. Her poems take your thoughts and make them real, just like a breeze that clears your mind.

In this huge universe, where there are so many mysteries, people who are curious often feel the pull to explore. These poems remind us that life isn't just about problems and challenges. The universe encourages us to see beyond the ordinary and welcome the unknown. In this book, the poems are beautifully written, encouraging us to let go of the past and enjoy the present. It's like a guide to help us have a better future. The poet wants us to understand that in a world where things might not be as they seem, it's up to us to decide if we want to find our true selves. The poems also talk about feeling good about ourselves and finding ways to heal from negative thoughts. The poems show us that both ordinary and special things in life are important. They show that our thoughts can either help us or hold us back. These poems have bits and pieces of emotions that help us think and feel better. They're like a gentle way to make our minds and hearts feel better.

If you're ready to explore who you are and open to a journey of self-discovery, we really think you should read "Through the Ether". This isn't just a poetry book, it's like a friend that helps you understand yourself better and reminds you that you can do great things. You can purchase and read "Through the Ether" by Zara Tagnac on Amazon Global. The book is available in both paperback and Kindle formats.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AUTHOR ZARA TAGNAC

Zara Tagnac is the pen name for a Jamaican-American poet and author of primarily slipstream and magical realism. Her prose has been published by Writer's Retreat UK and Sketel Magazine (Jamaica). Her poetry has been published by Wildfire Words (UK), Paper Pens, & Poetry (India), and Black Quantum Futurism (US). Her first poetry chapbook, "Through the Ether," is available on Amazon.com. Zara first realized she wanted to share her prose with the world when she was 7 or 8 years old. Thankfully, her supportive loved ones and a consistent streak of winning writing competitions validated this dream. She started writing poetry in her mid-twenties while attending an informal poetry class at a local coffee shop in Philadelphia. Now, she's exploring prose-poetry and other hybrids of these art forms.

Through her work, Zara explores nature, plurality, emotion, crossroads, intuition, and the unseen world, empowerment, questioning what's deemed "normal," and various forms of love. She is inspired by her observations of humanity, the natural world, dreams, and her personal experiences. Although there is overlap, her prose is a doorway to her mind while her poetry is a peek into her heart and spirit. When Zara isn't reading or writing, she enjoys traveling, learning new languages, and exploring different cultures. She also loves dancing, singing, painting, jewelry making, resting, and spending time in a forest or by the sea.

Zara's work is a fusion of emotions and perspectives, intricately woven with threads of imagination and reflection. Each creation she pens beckons readers to transcend the mundane and explores the territories of possibility. Her prose gracefully treads the line between reality and the fantastical, prompting us to challenge the confines of our understanding. Through a unique interplay of words, Zara presents a glimpse into her inner world, where emotions, visions, and insights harmonize in a graceful depiction. With her writing, she aspires to create a mark on the hearts and minds of those who set out on the literary journey with her penned work.

Zara Tagnac can be contacted through email at ayanalovesprose@gmail.com. You can also explore her literary world and engage in meaningful conversations with her on Instagram @ztlovestoread.


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR ZARA TAGNAC

What inspired your pen name, "Zara Tagnac," and how does it reflect your Jamaican-American identity?

Tagnac is short for “Demontagnac”, my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. My grandmother lived with my family while I was growing up, so she has a special place in my heart. “Demontagnac” is a French-Haitian surname. My mother’s maternal side consisted of white people in Haiti who fled the Haitian Revolution. Honestly, I’m not proud of having ancestors who were on that side of history, but it is what it is.Migration shapes identities across generations. My family's history spanned Haiti, Cuba, then Jamaica. Discovering this reshaped my view. "Zara," like my real name, means flowers, reflecting my affinity for nature. The choice resonates with Octavia Butler's "Parable of the Sower," where characters facing crises seek new homes, echoing immigrant journeys.


How do slipstream and magical realism allow you to explore your themes uniquely?

Writing Heights (formerly NCW) was the first writing organization I belonged to in Colorado, and it occupies a big place in my heart. It led me to my first writing group and has been with me at every step of my writing journey. When the opportunity to lead arose, I was so honored to fill that role. Despite leading the organization through a global pandemic, which was a challenge, I hope this group is always a place where authors at all stages can find fellowship and a safe space to grow in their own journeys.


How has exposure to different cultures through your published work influenced your writing perspective?

To continue reading the full interview, click here to download the August 2023 issue.


5. 'DAUGHTER OF THE BORICUA' by AUTHOR OLIVIA CASTILLO


BOOK  'DAUGHTER OF THE BORICUA' by AUTHOR OLIVIA CASTILLO
Available on Amazon

Daughter of the Boricua, finalist of the 2022 Reader’s Favorite Award and the 2022 Literary Titan Silver Award, is book two of the epic trilogy, Songs of the Boricua. This sweeping saga continues the story of the award-winning book, Song of the Boricua, and the lives of three generations of women.

Liani; A Taíno beauty torn between the love of a handsome Spanish officer Estefan, and her Taíno roots, its traditions, and her family's continuous fear of its conquerors, the powerful United States of America. She is facing a new world order, the changing of the Spanish guard in early 20th century Puerto Rico. Can she overcome her fears to find true love?

Isabella; A direct descendant of Aztec princess Isabella Moctezuma and Hernán Cortés, is caught up in the Puerto Rican diaspora, living in the mainland United States and the resulting aftermath of the Puerto Rican migration to the mainland state and the racism they face. Isabella survives an abusive marriage to find true love, but can she overcome her past and trust another man?

Josie; Scarred from her parents' dysfunctional divorce, and her mother’s escape, Josie is torn between her clairvoyant powers and her desire to be an independent woman, choosing between tradition and 21st-century love. Josie struggles with letting go, learning to love again, and showing her children a fully realized woman, proud of her Puerto Rican heritage.

These three generations of women must also contend with a centuries-old curse spoken by Moctezuma as he lay dying, cursing the descendants of Cortés, unknowingly dooming his own progeny. Centuries later the curse is strengthened by an old witch, a Puerto Rican jabao, who double hexes Moctezuma's original curse on the future descendants of Hernán Cortés—that true love would continue to elude these women and affect the daughters of each generation. They continue to struggle against the curse while navigating old-world traditions and fears trying to survive their country's continuous limitations for women and race. Daughter of the Boricua also tells the story of Puerto Rico and the political problems she faced at the end of the 19th century and the Spanish-American War of 1898, to modern-day Puerto Rico. It continues to examine the continuing conflict between Puerto Rico’s struggle to have a voice while existing as a commonwealth of the United States. Daughter of the Boricua looks at the lives of these women and ask the questions: Are these women forever cursed? Is Puerto Rico an island doomed to exist in a gilded cage? Will love and the island triumph, or will their lives and Puerto Rico converge and end with the storm of the century?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AUTHOR OLIVIA CASTILLO

Olivia Castillo is a New York City native. After going to the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, she went on to study graphic design at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Olivia Castillo has always enjoyed writing, journaling, and writing poetry. As a child, she was introduced to literature by her mother who loved books. Learning to read at an early age, Olivia Castillo’s favorite authors as a teenager were F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Leo Tolstoy, and the Brontë Sisters.


Olivia Castillo attended an online UCLA writing course and when she completed it began to come up with the idea of writing her own book. She contemplated writing a Western before deciding to write a historical fiction book loosely based on her Puerto Rican roots. Olivia Castillo wanted to understand her own Puerto Rican heritage and to bring to light some of the problems Puerto Rico faced in the historical fiction genre. She hoped to bring awareness to the plight that Puerto Ricans faced in the 21st century, especially after the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria on the island. She began writing the first of the trilogy Songs of the Boricua ten years before she completed her first novel, Song of the Boricua. After publishing her book, she appeared on the award-winning Atlanta-based “Kelly Show” and the San Diego radio show hosted by Marcus Noel, “The Soul Suite.” Song of the Boricua won the Reader’s Favorite Bronze Medal for historical fiction in 2019. Olivia Castillo began writing her second novel, Daughter of the Boricua, in 2020 and completed it in 2022. She appeared in an extensive interview with “The Kelly Show.” Daughter of the Boricua won the 2022 Literary Titan Silver Award for historical fiction, along with placing as a finalist for the 2022 Reader’s Favorite Award for historical fiction. Along with being an entrepreneur, she is the mother of three children and grandmother of two. In between dedicating time to writing and enjoying precious moments with her family, Olivia Castillo indulges in globetrotting escapades, exploring diverse cultures, and painting fascinating landscapes. Amidst her creative pursuits, she diligently crafts her third novel, "Heart of the Boricua," with aspirations to bring it to completion by the year 2024, weaving a compelling tale that will fascinate readers' hearts.


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OLIVIA CASTILLO

How did growing up in New York City shape your passion for writing?

Growing up in vibrant, multicultural New York City, the sights, sounds, and diversity served as an artist's inspiration. Encouraged by creative parents, the environment ignited a desire to tell stories reflecting the experiences around and within me. Being a first-generation Puerto Rican and hearing my parents' tales of childhood and facing racism fueled a passion for writing about social injustice.


How has your background in graphic design influenced your storytelling style?

I studied advertising and graphic design, and what was very important was the presentation and packaging and seeing the details along with the big picture. How it translates for storytelling is in how I visualize the scene, see the story to the end, envision the characters, and how to get inside of them and their emotions. I try to make logical sense of certain actions that would be true to them.


Who were your teenage literary heroes, and how did their works inspire your own writing?

To continue reading the full interview, click here to download the August 2023 issue.


In a world filled with distractions, these five must-reads for August 2023 provide an opportunity to escape, reflect, and expand your horizons. Whether you're drawn to fascinating stories, significant insights, or thought-provoking concepts, this list has something for everyone. So, grab your preferred reading nook, a warm beverage, and explore these exceptional literary journeys that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression. Happy reading!




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