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Kali Fajardo-Anstine Books In Order

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Sabrina & Corina (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Kali Fajardo-Anstine
Kali Fajardo-Anstine is from Denver, Colorado where she has lived her entire life, and has her MFA from the University of Wyoming. She taught a composition writing program at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

As a kid, she was an aggressive reader. Long before she wrote stories, she would read dated encyclopedias and chapter books. She got sent into the hallway in the fourth grade because she got caught reading “The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe” by a teacher inside her social studies book.

A book she read as a younger that she continues to think about on a daily basis is “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros. After first encountering the book early on in high school, it changed her forever as she realized the transcendent and unifying power of literature.

She was introduced to the novel in tenth grade when her high school took part in an exchange program that brought an English teacher named Mr. Andoczi to her school. He was the one that introduced her to the novel. As her class discussed the book, he spoke about the humanity of the characters in the novel. This work reminded him of when he would help his sick grandma back and forth to the outhouse. She saw that great literature can act as a medicine, and is able to connect people across different cultures,k nations, and classes.

While writing, she often pulls from her family history and lived experiences. She seeks truth and revels in displaying it through her stories. Kali pulls a lot from her own life, with some things that are her own inventions. She finds her own life to be very interesting, having raised a sugar baby when she was in middle school.

Kali finds that she comes from storytelling and is programmed to be a writer and a storyteller. She is an old voice and an old soul, a voice she was given from her ancestors as well as her aunties, her mom, and her great grandma. She is but a vehicle to the voice that she has been gifted.

She feels that her stories are female centric due to the fact that she grew up with a matriarchal family. She was never around her biological father’s family. There were men in her life, but she still came from a very female worldview.

Kali also comes from people that worked, and those are the stories she writes because working class lives are the most interesting as it is the world she comes from. She will read books where the characters have money, making Kali wonder what they do for jobs and how they paid for the lake houses they have.

When Kali was a younger writer, in her early twenties, she would get major bursts of inspiration and would come when she least expected it. She was at a Super Bowl party once in San Diego, with a Lime-a-Rita in her hand, when the muse hit her. She rushed back to her apartment and wrote the draft of her story “Remedies”. The model of inspiration is both chaotic and unreliable, and as she got older, she started creating a much more structured approach to her writing.

When she was working on her novel, she put together a detailed scene-by-scene outline of the entire novel. She then worked off of this outline, adjusting whenever she found it necessary. Kali cannot write everyday, but when she actually does, she sets aside major amounts of time for projects. When she is in this mode, she writes one thousand words per day, making handwritten notes, visualizing the scenes before she commits to writing sentences on her computer.

Her story “Sisters” is based off of a family story, inherited trauma that got passed down from generations. She can remember being inside her apartment in Wyoming and she could hear Doty talking to her and she just knew she had to write the story. The story is one of the toughest things she has ever written, and she felt sick to her stomach having to write it, but she just knew the haunting would never leave her.

One reason Kali is a writer is because she rarely, if ever, saw herself within the literary canon of the American West. This was a literary landscape, it seemed reserved only for white men with few spots available for anybody else. She felt alienated since she could not identify with canonical literature of the American West. She wound up feeling like some outsider in her ancestors’ homeland.

Kali’s found that some of the best feedback she’s gotten for “Sabrina and Corina” is from young indigenous and Latinx women that feel newly inspired to start writing.

Kali sold books at West Side Books, which specialized in antiquarian and rare books, in Denver, Colorado starting when she was sixteen years old. One aspect of the job was making sure she was able to recommend books to all kinds of audiences and customers. One of the biggest influences on her writing comes from her life in bookstores, either as a customer or a bookseller.

She quit her job in the year 2016, because she felt that she would never be able to finish her book if she had to work all the time. At the age of thirty, she moved back with her parents and worked part time as a secretary and as a bookseller. She wrote a lot and wound up getting her book deal as a result. What changed for her is that she returned to Denver, and came back to the city that she was actually writing about.

Kali has made trips to visit bookstores all around the country. When she was a teen, she made a list of bookstores that she would like to see one day, and has been lucky to have crossed many of the stores off her list.

“Sabrina & Corina”, her collection of short fiction, was Longlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize and a Finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction.

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