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Meet Maitas Travieso-Diaz (issue 05 Contributor)

Meet Maitas Travieso-Diaz, The Malu Zine’s issue 05 contributor and the writer of “Two Odd Animal Stories.”

SR: Could you give us a quick introduction to yourself?

My name is Matias Travieso-Diaz. I was born in Havana, Cuba, on February 21, 1943. I came to the United States in May 1963 as a refugee, to escape persecution by the Castro regime. (The fortuitous circumstances and details of my departure from Cuba are described in my short story The Black Pen, published by The Quiet Reader in 2020.) in I lived in Miami, Florida, for four years, during which I obtained Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Electrical Engineering. In the fall of 1967 I moved to Columbus, Ohio, to attend Ohio State University. I received a PhD Degree in Electrical Engineering from OSU in 1971 and worked in the aerospace industry until September 1973, when I moved to New York and enrolled in the Columbia Law School. I graduated with a law degree in 1976 and settled in the Washington, D.C. area. I worked a lawyer in a major law firm for thirty- nine years (thirty-two of those as a partner); I retired from legal practice in March 2015.

SR: Who inspired you to become a writer?

I always enjoyed writing and, as a lawyer, I had many opportunities to write professional briefs and other articles. However, my current occupation as a fiction writer began in 2017, when I had a vivid dream about a plot by extra-terrestrials to take over the Earth. I turned the dream into my first short story, “Something in the Water,” which was ultimately published in The New Accelerator a year and a half later. The bug had bitten me and I began writing short stories and sending them out to magazines in the hope of getting them published.

In the six years since waking up from that dream I have written many short stories and two novels. I am happy to report that my most recently published two stories – which round up a total of one hundred – appeared in Issue 5 of The Malu Zine only a few days ago.

SR: What is a word you often use in your writings?

I try not to repeat myself much – and I have two rules that I try to apply as much as possible: (1) use few adjectives and (2) avoid adverbs like the plague. I also find that the first sentence of a story sets the tone and often serves to predict whether the story will meet favor with the readers.

SR: What is a song that takes you back in time?

I came to America in the early 1960s, a time in which the country’s spirit was fresh and full of noble expectations. The song that exemplifies in my mind that bygone, innocent era was Peter, Paul and Mary’s "Puff, the Magic Dragon," which to this day brings tears of nostalgia to my eyes.

SR: What advice do you have for young writers who’ve just started their publication journey?

Do not be discouraged by rejections of your work. Rejections are the daily bread of writers, regardless of talent. The list of rejections of my stories run for thirty-five single space pages. On the other hand, review and revise your work time and again, not only to catch typos or poor choices of words, but also to pare down the text as much as possible. And send the work out to as many potential outlets as possible.

SR: What are your future plans as a writer?

I have completed two novels. The first, The Taíno Women, is based on the first century of colonization of Cuba by the Spanish Conquistadores; the second, The Travels of Lázaro Serrano, takes place two centuries later. I have started writing a third novel, which occurs in the second half of the Nineteenth Century, during Cuba’s wars to gain independence from Spain. I expect working on this third novel will occupy much of my time in 2024, with occasional detours to write short stories as ideas occur to me. I take pride in never repeating myself, and have not needed to do so because the world is like an immense summer meadow, full of diverse, beautiful stories waiting to be plucked.


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