I met the author of Selima and the Merfolk – Vanessa Salazar on social media. Months later she attended my first Book Talk & Jazz (April 2016). We later sat down at Rust Street to do this interview for the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.
Featured at the Bocas Lit Fest and several corporate sponsors backing her book, the author proves that dreams do come true and slow and steady wins the race. Success is relative but he/she who stays focused on their dream will surely get what’s theirs in time.
You have told me that I inspire you, but we are all here to learn from each other and no one is perfect. Thanks for the inspiration Vanessa and good luck with your book series. Read the published version of the article here.
Originally from the rural village of Las Cuevas, the author of Selima and the Merfolk – Vanessa Salazar was born to write. The country girl as she refers to herself moved to Belmont at age seven. She remembers wanting to write from an early age and being a natural at school and so her dream began.
“Writing is my creative outlet and I always had it in my heart to become a writer. I did an online writing course, joined the Writer’s Union and started writing short stories.
It was there I was encouraged to write a novel,” the author shares.
Salazar found out what a mermaid was from her grandfather who told her stories about the Ferry River situated at the end of Las Cuevas and runs into the sea.
He shared that long ago ferries passed through the river to transport cocoa and people claimed that they had seen mermaids there.
“At age 6 or 7, I was fascinated with mermaids. I liked the concept and I think I watched every mermaid movie that was ever made!” she says gleefully.
The book which is a mythical tale of merfolk (collective noun for mermaids and mermen) took three years to be written and Salazar shares that she will stick to fiction and has plans to write more books in the series.
“I believe in writing about what you know and what you like. I write stories and I always liked fantasy. I want to write stories that I liked to read as a child …
To be able to create an entire world in your head and put it down on paper and for someone to follow it and continue turning the pages, I think is quite amazing!”
Vanessa admitted to have had several highs since her book launch last year (2015). What really stood out for her was when the Moruga RC Primary School asked her to be their guest speaker at their graduation.
“I thought they would have wanted someone more recognized, so I was really humbled and honoured. It was an amazing experience.”
She says working with her sponsor Mario’s Pizzeria who journeyed with her prior to the book launch was also an incredible experience.
“I want to do more. The children have a lot of fun, but I think I have more fun! It’s really rewarding to see people enjoy what you have worked so hard for.”
Another amazing moment that made her night was when a parent said to her (on social media) that everyone in her household had read her book and they couldn’t wait to read the next in its series.
Salazar in collaboration with Mario’s Pizzeria will be launching a short story contest at Mario’s St. Augustine on May 19th open to children 9- 12 years of age on the topic: The day I discovered my super hero power.
The deadline is June 3rd and winners will be announced on June 10th. Prizes include:
1st prize – Mario’s birthday party for 10 children
2nd prize – Mario’s pizza lime for 10 children
3rd prize – Mario’s mega meal
UPDATE: 14 kids were shortlisted for this competition and the winners will be announced on Monday 4th July, 2016.
Of her greatest wish, the author declares:
“I want to create lasting memories through my books. Just as my grandfather’s story stayed with me throughout my life; if I could be a child again I would want to read a book I’d remember my entire life.
Based on the feedback thus far, I feel in my heart that Selima and the Merfolk is such a book.”
Selima and the Merfolk is available on the author’s website www.vanessasalazar.com For more: firstname.lastname@example.org