Author Chat with María Dolores Águila (Barrio Rising), Plus Giveaway~ US ONLY!

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author María Dolores Águila!

Read on to learn more about the author, the book, and a giveaway!




Meet the Author: María Dolores Águila

María Dolores Águila is a Chicana poet and writer from San Diego, California. Deeply inspired by Chicane history and art, she seeks to write empowering and inclusive stories about everything she learns. She also loves drinking coffee, browsing the bookshelves at her local library, and spending time with her family.

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About the Book: Barrio Rising

A vivid historical fiction account of the community activism behind San Diego’s Chicano Park—home to the largest outdoor mural collection in the U.S.—and just one example of the Mexican American community’s rich history of resistance and resilience.

Barrio Logan, one of San Diego’s oldest Chicane neighborhoods, once brimmed with families and stretched all the way to the glorious San Diego Bay. But in the decades after WWII, the community lost their beach and bayfront to factories, junkyards, and an interstate that divided the neighborhood and forced around 5,000 people out of their homes. Then on April 22, 1970, residents discovered that the construction crew they believed was building a park—one the city had promised them years ago—was actually breaking ground for a police station. That’s when they knew it was time to make their voices heard. Barrio Rising invites readers to join a courageous young activist and her neighbors in their successful twelve-day land occupation and beyond, when Barrio Logan banned together and built the colorful park that would become the corazón of San Diego’s Chicane community.

     Also available in Spanish/también disponible en español: El barrio se levanta

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~Author Chat~


YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

MDÁ: This is one of my favorite questions! I was inspired by a mural in Chicano Park that piqued my interest, the Tribute Mural for Laura Rodriguez by Mario Torero on Cesar Chavez Parkway in Barrio Logan. I would drive by it all the time, and one day I decided to Google more information and I was absolutely blown away by what I found out. I had to write the incredible story that was right in front of me for literally years.

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

MDÁ: Elena, of course. She’s the main character. I love Elena so much. She does things even if they scare her, which is what I think it means to be brave.

YABC: How do you know when a book is finished?

MDÁ: I know a book is finished when I’m fiddling around with punctuation and minor word changes. When I’m at that stage, it’s time for another pair of eyes on the manuscript or to let it rest so I can get some distance and look at it with a new perspective.

YABC: What research did you do to write this book?

MDÁ: So much research, and occasionally I still come across a little tidbit of new information that gets me excited all over again. I read tons of books, journal articles, newspapers, attended lectures and events, watched documentaries, listened to music, and of course, studied the murals.

YABC: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

MDÁ:  I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. I didn’t always believe I could be a writer, even though I wanted to be, because I didn’t know anyone with a creative career. I’m glad I didn’t let my doubts derail my dream.

YABC:   How do you keep your ‘voice’ true to the age category you are writing within?

MDÁ: I have three kids, so they keep me in that space! In just being their mom, it brings up so many buried memories from my own childhood. When these memories come up, I try to write them down and capture my thoughts from that time or experience. It’s mostly about being curious about things, without a preconceived notion of the outcome.

YABC: What type of scene do you love to write the most?

MDÁ: My favorite scenes are the ones where the main character must make a big decision, one there’s no coming back from.

YABC:   What is your favorite writing space?

MDÁ: My desk at home. I love to go to cafes, but I get distracted by people watching and eavesdropping. The best place for me to work is at home where I can focus on my work.

YABC: How do you plan to celebrate the launch of your book?

MDÁ: I’m thrilled to be having an event at Libélula Books & Co in Barrio Logan. It’s a queer, BIPOC owned indie bookstore, and they do amazing work providing a space for literary events in South San Diego.

YABC: What hobbies do you enjoy?

MDÁ: I adore journaling – I know it’s a bit of a cliché for a writer, but I’m deep into junk journaling TikTok. I’ve become obsessed with collecting receipts, cute tags, any sort of packaging that catches my attention and turning into a spread.

YABC:   What do you do when you procrastinate?

MDÁ: This is not an uncommon occurrence for me; I tend to wait to the last minute to finish most things. But what helps me get going is body doubling or using the Pomodoro Technique; I can’t help but work when the person next to me is working, or if I only have to do a task for a set amount of time.

YABC:  What fandom would you write for if you had time?

MDÁ: Avatar, The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. I’ve watched both series several times, and I just can’t get enough. I love the idea of the concept of benders, and all the unique and fascinating possibilities that come from that.

YABC: What other age group would you consider writing for?

MDÁ: I’d like to branch into writing YA. I love writing children’s literature; there’s something about writing for young people that just calls to me.


YABC:   What’s up next for you?

MDÁ: My next project coming out in 2025 MENUDO SUNDAY: A BILINGUAL COUNTING BOOK, illustrated by Erika Meza, and a middle grade historical fiction novel in verse. I’m so thankful for the opportunities to connect with readers of all ages – it’s a dream come true.




Title: Barrio Rising

Author: María Dolores Águila

Illustrator: Magdalena Mora

Release Date: 6.18.2024

Publisher: Dial

ISBN-10: 9780593462072

Genre: Community, Art, Music & Theater, Fairness, Justice & Equality, Spanish Language, Perseverance, Social Justice, Hispanic & Latino, Historical

Age Range: 4-8 years




~ Giveaway Details ~


Five (5) winners will receive a copy of Barrio Rising (Maria Dolores Aguila) ~US Only!


*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*


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3 thoughts on “Author Chat with María Dolores Águila (Barrio Rising), Plus Giveaway~ US ONLY!”

  1. ltecler says:

    Sounds like an inspirational book!

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