Author Interview: Orlando Ortega-Medina

I’m excited to introduce you to today to debut short story writer Orlando Ortega-Medina. He brings a fresh, diverse and brilliantly unique new voice to the literary world with his new release Jerusalem Ablaze: Stories of Love and Other Obsessions.

He has a very diverse background as Judeo-Spanish via Cuba and incorporates his heritage and life experiences into this collection of 13 eclectic tales from Los Angeles to the eastern townships of Quebec, and from Tokyo to Jerusalem, all places where Ortega-Medina once lived. Orlando was born and raised in LA and studied English Literature at UCLA.

An emerging latino author to watch in the contemporary literary fiction landscape, Orlando Ortega-Medina now resides in London.

We noticed your cross-cultural and multi-faith upbringing has an impact on your fiction writing. What inspires you?

Yes, I was born with an excess of identity. At first, it was like having a closet crammed full of costumes and not knowing which one to wear. I think it’s fair to say that my life has been about learning which costume to wear. I clothe my characters in the hand-me-downs.

Which are your favourite stories in the collection?

My favourite stories are: “Torture by Roses”, “After the Storm”, “Love at Masada”, and “Invitation to the Dominant Culture”.

Who are your favourite authors?

My favourite authors are Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Jown Fowles, Anthony Burgess, Jorge Luis Borges, and Yukio Mishima.

How has your law career influenced your writing style?

As a lawyer, I solve problems and strategize preventative measures for my clients. As an author, I create worlds. My author-ability to think creatively and outside the box makes me a better lawyer. My lawyer-ability to think systematically, foresee problems, and create preemption regimes, makes me a better writer. I can’t imagine one without the other. On the technical side of things, my constant review of deposition and court transcripts has helped me develop a keen sense of dialogue.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just completed the first draft of a novel. It’s a three-part black comedy about star worship, a search for identity and, of course, religion. It’s set the seventies and eighties in Los Angeles, Jerusalem, and Tijuana (Mexico). I’m hoping to shop it around early next year.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I like to think that agents and publishers will recognise an outstanding manuscript when it comes across their desks. That said, publishing is generally a for-profit business. So if ones manuscript doesn’t have commercial appeal, excellent as it may be, one may expect to knock on many doors before finding someone who is willing to invest in one’s manuscript. My best advise to new writers is make sure your manuscript is professionally edited and that you consider the feedback of several Beta Readers before you even dare to send it out.