Yamile Saied Méndez talks FURIA and the Argentina soccer scene

Each week, an accomplished published author takes over the YEM Twitter account for Thursday’s Twitter Takeover. Each week, the YA author will answer questions, tell stories, and give advice on our social media. This week author Yamile Saied Méndez will be taking over our Twitter account. She is the author of the YA book, FURIA.

Born and raised in Rosario, Argentina Yamile Saied Méndez was destined to fall in love with soccer. Yamile followed Argentinian fútbol religiously even after emigrating to the United States. Now, in her first YA novel FURIA, Yamile shares the story of one girl’s struggle to rise above the expectations her family and society have for her. Check out YEM’s interview with Yamile below:

Young Entertainment Mag: This is your first YA novel. How does writing for young adults differ from writing for other audiences?

Yamile Saied Méndez: In a way, there isn’t a different with how I approach the story in the writing process whether it’s a picture book or a novel for middle graders or young adults. But the interaction with the readers after the book has been published has been a wonderful surprise. I don’t often hear from little children who have loved my book since they don’t have access to devices, but my YA readers have been very vocal and passionate about how FURIA resonated with them. I’m very humbled and grateful for the expressions of love and support, and the ways in which the story now belongs to these readers.

YEM: Your book is called FURIA. Tell us about it.

Yamile: FURIA is the story of Camila Hassan who dreams of one day becoming a professional soccer player. Her city, Rosario, is one of the soccer capitals of the world, exporting players like Lionel Messi and other legends. She plays in secret until her team qualifies for an international tournament and she needs her parents’ permission. Right then, her childhood crush comes back to Rosario with the determination to renew their relationship, and Camila finds that love can be the most difficult obstacle of all.

YEM: Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

Yamile: Although FURIA isn’t a memoir or a novel based in my own life, there are a lot of intersections between Camila’s and my journey. I was born and raised in Rosario, and I love soccer. I too learned English with a dictionary, and my family comes from all over the world. But most of all, FURIA was born of my love for soccer, books, and Rosario.

YEM: You love meteor showers and astrology… do you plan on writing a sci-fi novel one day?

Yamile: I’ll never say never! When the right character brings me a compelling story, I’ll be ready to tell it.

YEM: The main character in FURIA is Camila Hassan. Do you have anything in common with her? Are you athletic like she is?

Yamile: I love sports of all kids. I haven’t had a soccer team for a while, but I’m an avid runner and biker.

YEM: FURIA is a soccer player – what’s your favorite sport?

Yamile: Hmmm. Soccer! But I will watch any sports, and if a fellow Argentine is competing, I’ll cheer for them even if it’s chess.

YEM: FURIA has the chance to travel to a different country to pursue her dreams. What was your experience like emigrating to America and becoming an author?

Yamile: Coming to college in the US had been a dream of mine all my life, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to pursue an education. While here I met my family, and our children were born in this beautiful country that is now my home. At the same time, not a day goes by that I don’t miss Argentina viscerally and wish I could be “home.” Like Diego and Camila, I have learned you can love two or more places with the same intensity.

YEM: Finally, if you had an alter ego name, like how Camila is known as LA FURIA, what would your name be?

Yamile: I’d be: La Turca, after the nickname of my youth because of my Syrian-Lebanese ancestry

La Rosarina, after my home town, and what some of my Latine friends call me in the US.

Anteojita, after the character of Manuel García Ferrer, a Spain born Argentina cartoonist and illustrator. My siblings called me Anteojita because of my love of books and school.

Want to learn more about FURIA?

To follow along with this week’s Twitter takeover, follow our Twitter account @YoungEntmag and follow the hashtag #YAAUTHORTAKEOVER.