Betty Serra-Rojas is a first generation Latin American born and raised in San Francisco. She works full-time at an insurance company as a staff investigator and resides in the Bay Area peninsula.

Short Story Collections

Fajitas and Friends
(Authorhouse, 2009)

reviewed by Chelsey Flood

Interview with Betty Serra-Rojas

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Betty Serra-Rojas: The stories in the Fajitas And Friends collection were written between 2004 and 2008. I wrote many more, but only selected my favorites.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

BSJ: I've been writing since I was a teenager, but I didn't get serious about writing until I hit forty. Therefore, I never thought about putting together a collection until I had plenty of stories and started thinking it would be nice to compile them. Also, I finally let go of my anxieties. I decided it was time to share my stories with people outside of my family circle.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

BSJ: Mostly, I chose stories that were inspired by children and the elderly. I've done plenty of volunteer work and have met some amazing people, particularly people who hardly have anything and don't walk around with a sense of entitlement. However, all the stories in the collection were fictional. As for the order, I tried to arrange them so that each short story followed a slightly different theme and viewpoint.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

BSJ: In Spanish, the word "oleaje" means surge, a rush of waves. Ideas for short stories come to me all at once like a head rush. It's overwhelming and I constantly re-read and re-think everything I write. To me a story has to have "un oleaje" that stands out from ordinary experiences.

TSR: Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?

BSJ: I like to write for an adult audience because I sprinkle in words of wisdom. However, my writing is easy reading and young adults could read and comprehend my stories, as well.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

BSJ: I always like to know if they have a favorite story, and if so, what was it they liked about the story.

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

BSJ: I still can't believe it. I now feel I have to write even better so that I don't disappoint anyone.

TSR: What are you working on now?

BSJ: I'm currently working on a series of Latin American folktales, the type of stories people used to sit around in their "barrios" and tell the townsfolk before there was radio and television. The exciting piece of this project is that I'm weaving magical realism into the stories, which is something I've not done before. For me, this type of writing is a bit more challenging, but the creativity has no limits.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

BSJ: During the Christmas holidays, I like to read the classics. I always feel nostalgic as each calendar year comes to a close and I read Civil War Women II (Stories by Women About Women). Two of my favorite authors, Louisa May Alcott and Edith Wharton were included in the collection. In the later part of 2009, I also read The Anastasia Syndrome and Other Stories by Mary Higgins Clark and the Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I'm always looking for Latin American writers for inspiration. I'm an avid reader and enjoy novels, but when I'm browsing through books I can never pass up a collection of short stories. I like to study the way an author tells a story and delivers the punch.
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