Author on the Airwaves: Ray Villareal

Villareal chosen as February 2015’s “Author of the Month” on Houston Public Media

Houston Public Media radio host Eric Ladau interviewed Villareal for its website’s “Arte Público Press Author of the Month” feature, and along with the transcript, their conversation is available to listeners on the station’s interactive site through on-demand audio streaming here.

Click here to see all Arte Público authors featured on Houston Public Media.

About the Author:

RAY VILLAREAL is the author of five novels for young adults that capture the angst of adolescent life: Body Slammed! (Piñata Books, 2012), Don’t Call Me Hero (Piñata Books, 2011), Who’s Buried in the Garden? (Piñata Books, 2009), winner of LAUSD’s Westchester Fiction Award, Alamo Wars (Piñata Books, 2008), and My Father, the Angel of Death (Piñata Books, 2006), which was nominated to the 2008-2009 Lone Star Reading List and named to The New York Public Library’s 2007 Books for the Teen Age. His latest novel, On the Other Side of the Bridge, was published by Piñata Books in October 2014. Villareal worked for 30 years as a teacher and an instructional reading coach with the Dallas Independent School District, and his knowledge of kids is obvious in his characters’ dialogue and the problems they deal with. As Kirkus Reviews said in its review of Who’s Buried in the Garden?: “a solid glimpse at seventh-grade life from a writer who understands the age—biography reports, friendships made and lost, crushes, misbehavior and, sometimes, quiet heroism.” He graduated in 1981 from Southern Methodist University with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Bilingual Education. In 1991, he completed his Master of Liberal Arts from the same university. He lives with his family in Dallas, Texas.

About his latest book, On the Other Side of the Bridge

Lon Chaney Rodriguez is a typical thirteen-year-old boy. He loves horror movies. His bedroom is a mess. He doesn’t like to read boring books. And he likes to skip church to hang out at Catfish Creek during services.

But his life changes completely when his mother is shot and killed at the apartment complex where she worked as a security guard. Life without her is unimaginable, and Lon is haunted by the feeling that he let his mom down. He didn’t prioritize his schoolwork, so he’s on the brink of failing. And worse, he lied to her.  Why didn’t he tell the truth? Why didn’t he make better grades and help more?

Lonnie’s life is turned upside down, both at school and home. The school counselor is determined to get him to talk about his mom, and the preacher’s daughter is insistent that he read scriptures to bring himself comfort. His unemployed father turns to drinking excessively and struggles to pay the bills. It doesn’t seem possible, but … will they really end up on the street like the homeless guy that panhandles at the freeway underpass?

Acclaimed author and educator Ray Villareal once again writes a fast-paced novel for teens that explores the impact of making bad choices while touching on serious themes such as death and homelessness.