Margarita Baressi

“My favorite thing about Margarita’s story is her ability to make me feel both anguish and hope. The two play off of each other in perfect balance, leaving readers wondering how this story will end right until the last paragraph”. — Lizzie Thornton, editor for Cardigan Press

What genres/age ranges do you typically gravitate toward in your writing?

I’ve always been a big fan of historical fiction. I love it all – from Jane Auel’s pre-historic tales to mid-20th century stories of Paris fashion houses. When history is brought alive, you really get a sense of what the time and people were like. You live it. And that’s so much better than memorizing a bunch of dates! So it’s no surprise I chose to focus on this genre as a novelist, telling stories of Puerto Rican history, which is so little known outside the island. As part of the United States, Puerto Rico should be taught in the history curriculum, but sadly is not. My stories aim to entertain, but to also inform and educate about my beautiful home island and its people.

For non-fiction, I primarily write memoir essays, many focusing on my childhood experiences growing up in Puerto Rico in the 1960s and 1970s. Truly, I have a wealth of material from which to draw, as my family was fairly unconventional and quirky. While my two daughters were young, I dabbled in parenting essays and had success publishing several of those. Both my memoir and parenting work tends to treat topics, even weighty ones, with humor.

In what way would you say your essay in Byline Legacies is similar and/or different from your usual style?

“A Youthful Regret” is a memoir essay, but unlike most of my work, does not focus on a Puerto Rican angle. I wrote it for an essay writing class I took a few years ago. The assignment was to write about something we regretted; never clearing my name with my journalism professor immediately came to mind. As I wrote the piece, all the indignity and fury I felt at the time came back to me in a visceral way. To this day, movies or books about the wrongly accused drive me crazy.

How can readers best support your writing career?

My first novel, A Delicate Marriage, is loosely based on the story of my grandparents. It’s currently making the rounds with publishers, so fingers crossed! In this novel, set in the 1930 and 1940s Puerto Rico, a sought-after debutante finds her marriage to a poor, but ambitious man threatened by the island’s political volatility, her husband’s shifting moral compass, and the temptation of an intriguing journalist. Amidst the backdrop of a tropical paradise, husband and wife grapple with whether their union, like that of the U.S. and Puerto Rico, should continue.

I’m currently conducting research for my second novel, which will be based on the birth control pill trials of the 1950s. These were conducted on Puerto Rican women, without full disclosure that they were participating in a drug trial. At some point, I’ll need to stop diving into old documents and correspondence and start writing the story.

Readers can learn more about my work on my website and I always appreciate interaction on my Twitter as well!

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