I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Gabriela Orozco Belt. Her picture book, Only for a Little While, comes out on June 27, 2023. It is available for pre-order here. The Spanish version, Por un ratito, will release on the same day and is available for pre-order here. Let's get to know Gabriela!
1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always had a big imagination and was an avid reader, but it wasn’t until my little girl asked me to write down one of my stories so she could read it whenever she wanted to did I first get the idea of being a writer.
2. Who are your influences? Other writers? Family members? Friends?
I love writers who can take culturally specific experiences and topics and make them universal so everyone can relate to them. Kat Zhang does this beautifully in her Amy Wu picture books.
3. What was your journey to publication like? Did you get a lot of rejections?
There were several no’s, both in querying agents and on subs with editors. My first book, which had a lot of interest in Twitter pitch events, did not connect with the editors. Only for a Little While, which did not gain interest in the same pitch events, had a lot of interest from editors.
4. It’s 3 in the afternoon and you’re suddenly having a dozen people over for dinner at 7. Which one of your characters would help you cook the meal?
Tio Hector! I love spicy pozole and he makes the best.
5. Besides writing, what other hobbies do you have?
I enjoy reading, traveling, and hosting family get-togethers. We are so lucky to have a big family in a small town, so every event turns into a big party!
6. Any plans for your next book?
YO SOY/I AM, illustrated by Mirelle Ortega, comes out in 2025. I’m excited to begin the publication process. I have a book on submission and working on a few other projects.
7. Tell us about your proudest moment as a writer!
Having a simultaneous English and Spanish release (Only for a Little While and Por un ratito). It’s very important to me that both versions are available to readers and Alejandra Oliva has done a fantastic job translating!
8. What is your writing routine like?
While I love following routines in my everyday life, I tend to not do so well with them when it comes to writing. When an idea, thought, or dialogue comes to me, if I can write at the moment, I do and if not, I’ll add a note in my phone and come back to it later. I admire the butt-in-chair writers and the 5 a.m. writers club but that doesn’t work for me.
9. If you could have lunch with any author, living or dead, who would it be?
The writer me has a hard time choosing just one. It would probably end up like one of our small family gatherings of 30! The English teacher me would have no problem choosing just one: William Shakespeare. So many questions! He could probably end one of the biggest debates in my class, did he write all of his plays?
10. What is your dream goal in your writing career?
To be on the Today Show 🙂
Gabriela Orozco Belt is a children’s book author who lives in a small town in the Mojave Desert. Inspired by her experiences of growing up bilingual and bicultural, she writes stories for children so they can see themselves in books. Gaby’s debut picture book, Only For a Little While serves to soften and process the feeling of being uprooted and see change as a temporary difficulty that families can overcome with mutual support. The book will be illustrated by Richy Sanchez Ayala and published by Balzer + Bray in Spring 2023. When not teaching, writing, or reading, she can be found spending time with her husband, three children, and extended family.