Writing Nicaragua Way: A Romance Historical Novel about Nicaragua and San Francisco
At age 82, I have published my first novel, a romance historical novel, Nicaragua Way. There is an old saying that “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” I feel I am being reborn as a butterfly, leaving my caterpillar days behind to launch my new book, Nicaragua Way, set in Nicaragua and San Francisco. It is a story that spans two decades from the 1970s to the 1980s.
Opening my colorful butterfly wings, I fly off into the forgotten mists of history to tell the world the story of Lorna Almendros, the protagonist of Nicaragua Way. Lorna is a mature single woman living in San Francisco, California, raising a teen daughter, searching for her Latino roots among a cast of fascinating characters in culturally diverse San Francisco’s Mission District. Lorna’s memories of her Nicaraguan grandfather sweep her and her daughter, Rini, into the inspiring revolutionary fever of the era’s Nicaraguan Sandinista revolution. San Francisco’s barrio comes alive as the brutal Somoza dynasty falls opening a new era of social justice for all of Central America.
My novel explores the passionate spirit of a Latina poet searching for social justice at a unique time in the Americas. Love, women, family, romance and culture intertwine in this international novel of love and war.
Lorna is deeply engaged in the revolutionary struggles in Nicaragua and the Sandinista solidarity movement in the US. The story carries Lorna from before the 1979 revolutionary triumph to the official end of the revolutionary project with the 1989 election defeat. Along the way the protagonist raises a daughter, falls in love, fears menopause and empty nest blues, faces deaths, intrigue, passions, and never stops writing poems. It is Lorna’s life as an activist and writer, (or “artivist” as some call it) that propelled her forward, As it has been for me.
The writing of Nicaragua Way was a 23-year experience spanning the years from 1993 to 2016, fictionalizing the road I myself traveled in the cause of peace, social justice, international friendship, and solidarity.
My writing process and the journey of my heroine, Lorna Almendros, both span two decades. My two decades began as hers ended. The dividing line was the 1990 electoral defeat of the Sandinista government, an event with some parallels to today’s Trump victory in the USA. I began writing the novel to find a way out of my personal despair due to that election loss. The creation of Lorna’s journey was my own path to rekindling hope and inspiration. With every rewrite, Lorna became stronger, standing up for herself as she faced ever-increasing political and personal challenges in the Nicaragua solidarity movement within the US. My portrayal of Lorna and Rini’s ever deepening involvement in social issues facing Nicaragua during the ten years of transformation is shadowed by the electoral defeat of the revolutionaries in 1990.
When the Nicaragua revolution collapsed under the weight of the Contra War led by Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra gang, my spirits spiraled downward. I had to understand what happened on a personal level. For me, the political is personal. I had to re-examine my own intimate journey through Nicaragua’s revolutionary years and the international Central American solidarity movement. My inspiration slowly returned as I wrote the story of Lorna’s life in the pages of my novel. I overcame writer’s block, disillusionment, and all the rest of the negativity that keeps us from being our best most creative and resilient selves. I learned that writing is a healing and creative journey.
Nicaragua Way can lead readers back to hope and inspiration. It opens the path to find their own strength and creativity to help foster change. Reading and writing certainly have been inspirational and fortifying for me in my butterfly years.
In my next blog, “Art Trumps Trump” I will examine this exciting on-going process further.
About Nina Serrano: Nina is a well-known, international prize-winning inspirational author and poet. With a focus on Latino history and culture, she is also a playwright, filmmaker, KPFA talk show host, a former Alameda County Arts Commissioner, and a co-founder of the San Francisco Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Oakland Magazine’s “best local poet” in 2010, she is a former director of the San Francisco Poetry in the Schools program and the Bay Area’s Storytellers in the Schools program. A Latina activist for social justice, women’s rights, and the arts, Nina Serrano at 82 remains vitally engaged in inspiring change and exploring her abundant creativity. For more information go to ninaserrano.com or contact her publisher at estuarypress.com. For more detailed information about Nina see About Nina on her website.
About Estuary Press: Estuary Press is the publisher of Nicaragua Way. It is also the home of the Harvey Richards Media Archive, a repository of photography and video documentaries of various social change and political movements during the 1960s and 1970s. Contact Paul Richards (510) 967 5577, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit estuarypress.com for more details.
MEDIA – For photos & interviews: Paul Richards (510) 967 5577; email@example.com