Friday, June 27, 2014

Meet the Hispanic Writer Award Winner: Elaine Manzanilla

Congratulations to Elaine Manzanilla, this year’s recipient of the Hispanic Writer Award! Elaine was born in Sacramento and raised in the Bay Area, San Jose to be exact. After raising her children, and being sole caretaker for her grandmother in the foothills of Northern California, Elaine returned to school and fell in love with science. That love for science and research led her to New Mexico as a Biomedical Science graduate student at UNM’s Health Science Center. After a short period of adjustment to living in the high desert of New Mexico, Elaine has come to love her new home. She considers California a beautiful place, but believes New Mexico has its own unique essence, beauty and charm.

Although she has been a lifelong reader, Elaine never thought she could be a writer and craft stories that people would enjoy. She states: “I cannot claim to be one of those who believe they were born to write. Until four years ago, I only wrote out of necessity for coursework and exams. However, when the flame of writing was lit within me, I was amazed at how natural it felt to write. I believe passion to express ourselves in words is key to becoming a writer that others want to read.”

Elaine states her current desire is to share her imagination and life experience in order to connect with, encourage, and inspire others. She believes that it is in relationships and shared, common experiences that we learn and grow into the people we were meant to be. Elaine has a unique cultural and familial background. Her father is from Guayamas, Mexico and her mother is of German/English ancestors who came to America before the Revolutionary War. As a result of this, Elaine understands the challenges of living in the world today as a multi-ethnic, multicultural woman. She is proud of her heritage, of the hardworking stoicism from her European ancestors, and the passion and ability to express emotions from her Mexican ancestors. The melding of these strong characteristics and her  faith not only strengthen her, but also inspire her to share with others through the fluid imagery of the written word.

Elaine is currently working on a semi-autobiographical novel that addresses the challenges of a first-generation Mexican-American woman who seeks to honor her traditions while taking advantage of the opportunities afforded her by being born in the United States. She will be taking the Innovative Revision workshop with Lisa Lenard-Cook.

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