Maria Velazquez has been telling stories since she could talk. Her parents, Ray and Grace Velazquez, fed her passion for fiction on a steady diet science fiction and fantasy. As a result, she wrote her first novel, at the age of twelve. Lost to an aging hard drive, this novel featured talking cats, black astronauts, and a multiverse criss-crossed by a brutal psychic serial killer who prayed on heroes and sinners alike. A chapter from this novel, centered on the talking cats’ friendship with a group of fierce Amazonian elves, was summarily rejected by Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy magazine. Maria has mostly moved on from this. Her mother still holds a grudge.
Despite this early set-back, her parents continued to foster Maria’s interest in black science and fantasy. They encouraged her to explore libraries, and sat patiently through her diatribes on Orson Scott Card, helped her to think through Octavia Butler’s Kindred, and supported her early attempts at blogging and science fiction. Because of them, when Maria was an adult, she knew what she liked and how to talk about, a skill she employed in her moderating the feminist SF/F Livejournal community Whileaway and in her posts to The Hathor Legacy. Her work on these two blogs eventually led her to acting as a juror for the Kindred and Parallax awards, as well as the Speculative Literature Foundation’s diversity and working class writer grants. Her most recent publication is "The Occasional Ethnicities of Lavender" in Critical Insights: Speculative Fiction, published by Salem Press. She also contributes book reviews to Strange Horizons and Cascadia Subduction Zone, and is outrageously excited that this year she will be able to nominate AND vote in the Hugo Awards.
Maria is an active member of the Carl Brandon Society, which supports the work of writers and critiques that talk about race in science fiction, and is part of a group of fans who have put together a bid to host the North American Science Fiction Convention in San Juan in 2017. This will be the first time NASFic will be held in Puerto Rico, and Maria is basically thrilled to be part of a larger movement in science fiction to center the work of people of color.
Meanwhile, she still writes science fiction and fantasy. Right now, she’s writing a poetry cycle based on the experiences of the passengers of a generation ship that has lost contact with its home world. She’s been thinking a lot about biology and space travel, water and human rights, in a world where home might be a myth.
Maria Velazquez received her doctorate in American Studies from
University of Maryland, College-Park. Her dissertation focuses on belly dance and its use as an embodied political rhetoric post-9/11. Her recent publications include “The Occasional Ethnicities of Lavender Brown: Race as a Boundary Object in Harry Potter” in _Critical Insights: Contemporary Speculative Fiction_ and “’Come Fly With Us!’: Playing with Girlhood in the World of Pixie Hollow” in_Cases on Digital Game-Based Learning_. When not thinking big thoughts connecting global politics to American wellness movements, she is an avid reader, writer, and fangirl for all things sci-fi and fantasy.
I'm also attaching a couple of my publications. Of particular interest to you might be my book chapter on Lavender Brown and Harry Potter (it's gotten around 8000 downloads on Academia.edu) and my recent review of A Small Key Can Open a Small Door, which is a sort of manifesto of the semi-autonomous Kurdish state forming in northern Syria.