Heady Times for Sofía Segovia

Sofia Segovia's  website

“I’ve always liked to tell stories,” Sofía Segovia says, “but Monterrey is an industrial city without a strong tendency for the arts. I had always felt I had a vocation I couldn’t nourish.” When it came time for college, the Monterrey native considered majoring in Journalism at the University of Monterrey, but soon had a change of heart. Too many journalists died in Mexico if they opposed the government, which in those days generally meant the PRI party. Instead, she got a degree in Communications.

 Sofía Segovia and Leslie Patiño in Monterrey, Mexico

Sofía Segovia and Leslie Patiño in Monterrey, Mexico

Monterrey, sometimes called the City of Industry, had long leaned toward the conservative PAN. After graduation, Sofía worked as a PAN volunteer and eventually became a local campaign manager for the party. She also wrote three plays for amateur theatre along the way.  

When she married and started a family, Sofía devoted herself to full-time motherhood. By 2000, the kids were in school and Sofía was restless to fill her extra time. “You’ve always enjoyed writing,” her husband said. Not long after, she learned through a newspaper ad about a local writing workshop

Fabrica Literaria Felipe MontesIn the first class at Fábrica Literaria (Literary Factory), instructor and founder Felipe Montes asked participants to summarize their book projects. Sofía, who hadn’t written a word, had no idea what to say. The next week, she shared the first pages of her budding novel. She loved the class. When it ended, she had made a writing buddy. The two of them continued to meet and critique each other’s work. Sofía kept taking classes at Fábrica Literaria.

Like other novelists, she found herself dealing with physical issues like neck and arm aches. She worked through those and developed the discipline needed to finish a novel.  Three years later, she had a pretty solid 223-page novel about a disparate bunch of people caught together in a hurricane in Cozumel, and she had found her mentor in Montes.

Noche de hurancanSofía’s writing is fresh and entertaining. She draws on stereotypes to create characters that are familiar to Mexican readers while developing them into unique personalities. What dialogue she uses is short and to the—often funny—point. The chapters are so different that when I started the second one, I checked to make sure the book wasn’t a collection of short stories. Gradually, Sofía weaves the tales and characters’ destinies together as the approaching hurricane intensifies and finally crashes into the resort where all the characters wait.   

Once Sofía finished, the challenge became what to do with the manuscript. Unlike the United States, Mexico doesn’t have literary agents. A website, blog and major social media presence weren’t yet de rigueur for Mexican novelists. Sofía contacted five publishers in Mexico and Spain with no luck. Eventually, her perseverance paid off. Noche de Huracán (Night of the Hurricane) was finally published in 2009 through a government program to promote the arts.

Sofia Segovia tallerMeanwhile, Sofía kept writing, taking classes and working one-on-one with Montes. In February 2013, she became a Fábrica Literaria instructor. Last August, she finished “the nth” revision of her second novel, El destino del azahar, three years in the writing. Once again, she was doing the dance with publishing houses. She waited, using the free time to develop a website, HolaSofiaSegovia, and blog and her literary Facebook page, “De Ficción” (Of/About Fiction).

Final, she got a nibble. One editor asked to see more of the book. After that, she requested the entire manuscript. A couple months went by. In her next email, the editor thanked Sofía for her patience and said she had given copies to two readers who provided very positive feedback. She asked Sofía to send a synopsis, information on potential customers and readers who already knew Sofía’s work, names of works similar to hers and other things.

After Sofía sent all the requested material, three more weeks passed. Sofía emailed, “Is my novel still alive?” The editor assured her it was, saying the next step was a review during a once-a-month meeting. Finally, after five months of what amounted to a slow courtship, Sofía got the email that thousands of aspiring novelist dream of. The opening line read, “Welcome to the family.”

Sofía Segovia and Fábrica colleague Angeles Favela

Sofía Segovia and Fábrica colleague Angeles Favela

On February 25, Sofía Segovia flew to Mexico City and signed a contract with Penguin Random House, Grupo Latino América. (New York-based Penguin Random House is the largest U.S. publisher.)  Sofía’s second novel comes out September 23.

Meanwhile, she has plenty to keep her busy, including a publisher request to find a new name for the novel. The play on the original title, El destino del azahar, (Destiny of the Orange Blossom ) was deemed too obscure for the reading public. The twist is that azahar (orange blossom) and azar (chance) are spelled differently but pronounced the same. Meanwhile, Sofía has two classes a week to teach and the website, blog and Facebook page to maintain. She is mentoring three writers, helping them with the final revision of their novels. Soon, she’ll hit the publicity circuit for her own book.  Heady times for the woman who almost didn’t pursue her passion.

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