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Historial Inspiration: An Interview with Barbara de la Cuesta, author of Adam’s Chair

Barbara de la Cuesta 1

Barbara de la Cuesta taught and worked as a journalist in South America. Out of this experience came her two prize winning novels, The Spanish Teacher, winner of the Gival Press Award in 2007, and Rosa, winner of the Driftless Novella Prize from Brain Mill Press in 2017. Fellowships in fiction from the Massachusetts Artists’ Foundation, and the New Jersey Council on the Arts, as well as residencies at the Ragdale Foundation, The Virginia Center, and the Millay Colony, have allowed her to complete these novels. Her story collection, The Place Where Judas Lost His Boots, has recently won the Brighthorse Prize.

You can buy Adam’s Chair here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

In reading some of the history of the founding of Waltham, I discovered a journal entry of Governor Winthrop about traveling up the Charles River from Boston and resting by a large split rock near what would become the city of Waltham, and naming it Adam’s Chair.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

Living and working in Waltham for fifteen years, I became intrigued with its history of immigration, and came to know some of its early mill and watch factory workers in my work with elderly residents of a nursing home as well as some of its newer residents in my night job as teacher of English as a Second Language. I took many notes, and as well was privileged to participate in a study of the city’s history done by Brandeis University and The News Tribune.

One of my models was William Carlos Williams’s long poem, Paterson, about another mill town.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have worked as journalist in South America, and taught English as a Second Language at the Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia. Since returning to U.S. I have taught English and Spanish in high schools as well as at Ocean County Community College.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

My perfect reader would be open to experimental writing and accept that James Joyce liberated the English language a long time ago.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

A book of short stories about exiles and aliens, documented and undocumented.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

The readers “got” my way of working with the material. I loved the editors. The art director, Ronaldo Alves, also went along with my subdued New England cover engraving of the old Boston Wool Works.

You can buy Adam’s Chair here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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