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Austin Art Talk

106 EpisodesProduced by Scott David GordonWebsite

The goal of the podcast is to facilitate connections with and to learn from the successes, struggles, life experience, and wisdom of the people featured, most of whom live and create in Austin, Texas. The honest conversational flow of these weekly long form interviews lends itself to some really gre… read more


Episode 21: Natalia Sylvester - Everyone Knows You Go Home

“We all have creativity in us and we’re all very imaginative people but we also have all these voices that tell us we’re not. I just don’t give myself credit for it. I don’t think any of us do.”

Novelist Natalia Sylvester says of her most recent book, she is writing for the people who have shared common experiences around immigration and know about being caught in between. These powerful and sometimes painful stories need to be out in the open so that the subjects and those like them know that what they went through has not gone unnoticed. But it’s not just about the struggles. It’s also the overlooked triumphs, courage, strength, and ordinary moments of daily life that need to be recognized.

To re-create a world based on the lives of many you have to exercise your empathy, listen, and imagine what it must have been like. Some of the story though she doesn’t have to imagine because she lived it herself. Her family fled Peru in the late 80’s to get away from the violence, terrorism, and unrest common at the time. She moved many times once in the US and has memories in all of the places she has called home. But what would it take for you to leave your home forever and start over from scratch in a new place? You might have to learn a whole new language. And you might eventually, after never really feeling welcome or at rest, have to leave that place and move again.

Her first book, about the experience of a woman kidnapped for ransom in Peru, and her husband’s plight to get her back, was based on stories from her family. Chasing The Sun was not as much about Natalia’s life as it was that of many people subjected to the fear of having a loved one kidnapped in South America decades ago. Her second novel, Everyone Knows You Go Home, delves more into immigration and life on the border of the United States, of reality, and the spirit world. It's a more personal story drawn from her own life that starts on the Day of the Dead, the same day she was married.

There is a lot to learn in this conversation, especially for someone who wants to do a better job at understanding and choosing to stand up for those who often have to fight harder for their rights and opportunities. We speak about her childhood, the craft of writing, both of Natalia’s published books, a few of the things she learned in 2017, and some other very important and timely issues. Everyone Knows You Go Home is available now online and everywhere books are sold. As of March/April 2018 she is touring the US on a book promotion tour and has already started working on her third novel.

Some of the subjects we discuss:

Starting to write as a kid
Learning to speak English
Encouragement to write
Creative Writing/Journalism study
Working as a writer/Freelancing
Her “first book”/getting an agent
Learning the craft/Her mentor
Fleeing Peru as a child
Family history and trauma
Chasing The Sun summary
Common stories & connections
Publishing and promoting 1st book
Back to day to day life
Imagination vs. Discipline
Work ethic from parents
Writing 2nd book
Day of the Dead
Everyone Knows story
Doing research/empathy
Who is the audience
Yearly what I have learned post
Reaction to the election
Being politically active
Not knowing everything
Making mistakes and learning


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