This is the fifth in a series of interviews with regular Glasstire contributors. Not only does it seem right to show off the talent behind this magazine (because really, our writers keep us going), but this series provides an opportunity for you, our readers, to learn more about our writers and their other endeavors. Because our writers are all doing many, many great things.
Rosa Boshier González has been a cornerstone of our Houston content in recent years, regularly covering the city’s rich and diverse art scene. But what most don’t know is that she is also the Editor-in-Chief of Gulf Coast Journal while also studying in the Creative Writing and Literature Ph.D. program at the University of Houston. Rosa is both talented and hard working, and we are lucky to count her amongst our valued contributors. I am excited to add some of her material to my reading list — what’s better than books recommended by a professional writer! While I have worked with Rosa throughout my tenure at Glasstire, I have not had the opportunity to meet her in person yet, and I look forward to the huge hug I will get her when we can finally make that meeting happen.
Leslie Moody Castro (LMC): Where do you live currently and where are you from?
Rosa Boshier González (RBG): I live in Houston now, which, weirdly, is where I was born. But I didn’t grow up here. I grew up between the Southwest of England and LA — two very different places that shaped me in unique ways. Just the infrastructure of each is vastly different. I guess that’s why I’ll always crave both deep country and hyper-city. Houston seemed kind of perfect for that.
LMC: What are you reading and listening to currently? (I am shamelessly building my own reading list with this question!)
RBG: Oof, all tough questions to ask a writer! I’m currently reading Alejandro Varela’s The Tower of Babylon, Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Conversations in Colombia, and Daniel Loedel’s Hades, Argentina as model novels for a couple of fiction projects I’m working on. I’m also putting together a playlist for my current work-in-progress (fittingly, a road trip novel), so songs have been top of mind lately. Here are a few I’ve been shamelessly listening to on repeat:
“Ojalá” by Silvio Rodríguez
“Mari Pili” by Ejecutivos Agresivos
“By Your Side” by Sade
“Chica de ayer” by Nacho Pop
“Boyhood” by The Japanese House
LMC: Can you tell us a little about some of those fiction writing projects?
I’m writing a novel called Nudes about an aging performance artist who tricks her conservative daughter into chauffeuring her on a road trip to find the person who gave her the best orgasm of her life, which she believes will help her rekindle her creative spark. Of course, chaos ensues, as it always does with exes and artists. I’m also working on my first novel, Landings, which follows Florida-born Pamela and her older half-sister Minerva in their journey to find each other and themselves. The novel is mostly set in the ’70s punk scene in London, where Minerva eventually migrates. Bowie makes a cameo as her fairy Godmother.
My problem child at the moment is the second novel I’ve attempted to write, Welcome Home, which is about ecotourism and neocolonialism. In the wake of their artist father’s death, two LA siblings reckon with their cultural identities, their privilege, and their grief as they attempt to set up a museum of their father’s work and live on an artist colony in the remote hills of Minca, Colombia.
LMC: Did you study journalism and/or writing? If so, where? If not, what did you study?
RBG: I was very fortunate to earn my MFA in Creative Writing and Critical Studies at CalArts, where my program wasn’t restricted by genre. I entered the program with a body of poetry and nonfiction and left it with a draft of Landings, which is about migration and coming-of-age. I had amazing professors who showed me examples of rangy and probing yet rigorous writing. I was exposed to a lot of theory. I took film classes. I even wrote and directed a (very bad) play at one point. It was under their guidance, and a cohort of really wonderful, compassionate writers, that I learned to be curious and chameleon-like in my creative practice. After CalArts I did a teaching fellowship and taught art history for several years before I was accepted into the University of Houston’s Ph.D. program, which is how I ended up back in Texas.
LMC: Can you tell us about some of your Ph.D. work, and about your role with Gulf Coast?
I’m focusing on contemporary multicultural literature, with a focus on the family saga. So far that’s manifested in my aforementioned weird mother-daughter road novel, plus the existing manuscripts I had in the works.
LMC: What’s the hardest thing to write about?
RB: Family and generational trauma. I started my career mostly as a personal essayist, yet I still struggle with the responsibilities of storytelling and what we inherit.
LMC: Can you elaborate on that, specifically what you mean when you say, “what we inherit”?
This is coming up a lot lately since I’ve been taking a class called Mining the Family Archive. I pose the same question to my students. It can be anything from one’s nose or eyes to the aftermath of war or certain anxieties. Back to generational trauma — how do the experiences of our ancestors, though unlived by us, affect our lives? What family myths, images, or stories have you been told your whole life? This inheritance could also be social or cultural —what are the assumptions about the world that we take on, but that are not necessarily ours? How does this affect our life decisions or how we carry ourselves in the world?
LMC: Do you have any upcoming projects you are excited about?
RB: I’m making a lot of progress on Nudes right now. It started as a way for me to nerd out on Colombian art history — I’m fascinated by art collectives like Grupo de Cali — but in the last few months it’s expanded to become a novel about grief, motherhood, and attempting to live a creative life. I also have an essay collection that orbits around art and various forms of intimacy — platonic, erotic, political, geographic, even the intimacy of violence and collective mourning.