YEM Author Interview: Yvonne Castañeda explains why she shares stories of her childhood in her book “Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety”

Yvonne Castañeda is the author of “Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety”. In “Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety” Yvonne Castañeda shares vibrant stories of her childhood growing up in Miami as the daughter of humble immigrants from Mexico and Cuba . . . and how she came to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. YEM was able to speak with Yvonne about the process of writing her book. She also shares what writing her book taught her, and advice that she has for other writers.

Young Entertainment Mag: When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

Yvonne Castañeda: I loved reading and going to the library as a kid, and I loved the smell of books. For my tenth birthday, I asked my mom to buy me a typewriter, so I guess I must have known it then! 

YEM: What made you share stories of your childhood in Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety?

Yvonne: What we experience in childhood have an impact on how we see the world and how we move in it. I couldn’t share my challenges with body image and food without first providing stories about my family and Latino culture. 

YEM: What was the process of writing Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety like?

Yvonne: At times it felt like my hands couldn’t type fast enough, like the words in my mind had to be put down right away. Other times I’d struggle to find the words for what I wanted to say. It took patience! 

YEM: Did you always know you wanted to write a book that was so personal?

Yvonne: Yes, absolutely, but I knew I had to be in the right headspace for it, the right frame of mind. I just didn’t know when that would be, so I had to wait. 

YEM: How long did it take to write Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety?

Yvonne: I started to write it in 2013 but stopped when I realized I wasn’t ready. I picked it up again in 2016, and from that point it took about 4 years. 

YEM: What did writing Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety teach you?

Yvonne: It taught me that dreams are worth chasing, and that adverse experiences have purpose and value. The book reminded me that my challenges were not in vain. 

YEM: What is a book that made you fall in love with literature?

Yvonne: Empress of the Splendid Season by Oscar Hijuelos, and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. 

YEM: What is something you want your readers to take away from Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety?

Yvonne: I want readers to know that every difficult moment is worth living, because there’s purpose and value in each one, and I want them to know that healing and grace are absolutely possible.   

YEM: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Yvonne: Write whatever sets your spirit ablaze, what lights a fire in your belly, and never, ever stop writing. You don’t need to be published to be a writer. Writing is a gift, not a profession. 

YEM: Who are some writers who inspire you?

Yvonne: Isabel Allende, Sandra Cisneros, Junot Diaz, Nicholas Christopher, Vikram Seth, Khaled Hosseini, Louis De Bernières, Barbara Kingsolver- to name a few! 

YEM: Who is always the first to read your books?

Yvonne: I have a few people with whom I will share my writings. My close friend of 25 years, Chris Schiefen, is usually the first because he gives me honest feedback and pushes me out of my comfort zone. 

YEM: Are you thinking of writing any more books?

Yvonne: I don’t know what the next one will be, but I do know there’s another book taking shape in my head. I guess I’ll have to wait for the download! 

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