"I want the reader to get to know my culture and language with everything I write." Rosa Aimeé Irizarry, Aimeé to her family and friends, tells me as we each savor a glass of la Bodega Andreu Solé's house red and observe the faint bioluminescent glow in the water of Guanica Bay, Puerto Rico. Aimeé has invited me to interview her (virtually, of course) in Ensenada, Puerto Rico. We sit at an outdoor café table and inhale the scents of the begonias, azaleas, and jacarandas, listen to the romantic cadences of traditional Puerto Rican guitar music, and talk writing for a couple of hours.
Aimeé writes poetry, short fiction, personnel narrative, essays and novels in both Spanish and English. Her work, 27 stories or collections published on Wattpad to date, is infused with the heady sensory details of Puerto Rico, delectable and rich on the page and on the tongue. Take this example from a short story called "Walls, Angels and Shiraz" recently included in an anthology organized and edited by @LOL-35 as well as in Aimeé's own short-story collection, Romance: "The colorful old Colonial buildings flanked the narrow streets paved with blue cobblestones. The shops and bars were open. 'I'll drink a glass of Spanish wine tonight...maybe later. I want to walk first and purge, with every given step, my sadness.'" And "The cooing sound of pigeons perched in the eaves of the old houses along the La Capilla del Cristo alley made me stop."
Reading these sentences in English kissed with a faint Spanish syntax transports the reader to a romantic place, not just an island-place but a place in the head and most assuredly in the heart where romance rules. This lilting and evocative voice melds perfectly with the subject and the setting. It is impossible not to be charmed.
It is likewise difficult not to be charmed by Aimeé herself. She is active, cheerful, upbeat and outgoing on Wattpad, which she joined four years ago, and the 36-year-old teacher, wife, and mother of three has amassed quite a following both in the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking communities on the platform. Born in Ponce, Aimeé grew up in the town of Yauco (known as El Pueblo del Café—Coffee City) and attended the public schools there. When it was time to go to college, Aimeé decided to major in pedagogy for her bachelor's degree and then studied for a master's degree in ESL (English as a second language) and Curriculum at the Caribbean University of Puerto Rico.
One day, she hopes to study for her doctorate. "For me it is important to keep aiming for the best. 'Gloria duci' in Latin. If you can do it, why don't you do it?" She crosses her jeans-clad legs, swings one of her nude, high-heeled shoes back and forth, takes a sip of her wine. "I want to be an example for my kids. If I have the capacity to get that doctor's degree, I must do whatever it takes to do it."
After a short stint in the US Army where she had hoped to become a medic before an unfortunate medical discharge, Aimeé went on to become an elementary English teacher in the village of Guayanilla in the south. She began writing her first English story on Wattpad in 2013, a piece called The Maiden's Song, a fantasy/historical novel set in the Middle Ages. After that appeared poetry collections, stories of gods and goddesses and vampires and women and men in love, essays exploring themes such as the difference between pornography and erotica, Alice In Wonderland fan fiction, and a chick lit romance in both Spanish and English.
Signaling to the waiter for two more glasses of the delicious wine, the petite red-head wearing an adorable cotton and lace top, opens up to questions about life, motherhood, and writing while out on the bay, the waves roll softly, mesmerizing, lit by the eerie green light of a thousand million oceanic plankton.
Q: You write in a variety of genres—short story, romance, historical fiction, non-fiction, poetry, paranormal—I'm probably missing some. Why do you feel it is important to you as a writer to explore all these genres?
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