In the Chamorro community, we're seeing an increased interest in writing, fine art, and other creative pursuits. Tanya Taimanglo is an author, blogger, and wonder woman who is paving the way for fierce Chamorro female characters in thought-provoking fiction. Taimanglo, a Guam native residing in Washington state, is the author of Sirena, Attitude 13, and Secret Shopper and blogs about writing, art, and Chamorro culture on her blog, Guam Goddess in Training.
Being a small community - and an even smaller arts community - it may feel like an isolating experience to be a Chamorro artist or writer. Positive, supportive authors and bloggers like Taimanglo are reshaping our community through a refreshing new perspective that embraces Chamorro creativity, collaboration, and unique individual expression. Chamorro Language & Culture asks writer/dreamer/heroine Tanya Taimanglo what inspires her and what she's learned about herself throughout her own creative journey from the Marianas to the Pacific Northwest:
Chamorro Language & Culture (CLC): You’re an innovative Chamorro author who promotes strong, empowered female characters. What has inspired you to take this direction in your writing?
Tanya Taimanglo (TT): I love reading about empowered women in general, but I wanted myself reflected culturally in a book. Without having any real pool to choose from, I decided to create my own characters.
CLC: Where would you like to see yourself in ten years?
TT: Writing. Success or not as a writer, I think I would still be writing. I would like to expand my publications from three to more and in varied subjects. As a wife and mother, my time is precious. But, no matter where my domestic life takes me, writing is my outlet and therapy.
CLC: What are you working on now?
TT: I’m in the middle of building Attitude 13 Volume 2. I have collected a few short stories over the years that I would like to highlight in this second volume. I’m also creating a lot of YA (Young Adult) pieces currently and would like to see them evolve into finished books, sooner than later.
CLC: In addition to promoting Chamorro culture in some of your works, what other areas or topics do you find inspiration?
TT: If you know me, I’m a massive GEEK. I attend Comic Cons whenever I can. Don’t get me started on Wonder Woman or Bruce Lee. But, I find inspiration in other books, great movies, and my everyday interactions with people.
CLC: Who are your influences, in writing and your other creative endeavors?
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CLC: You are a native Chamorro from Guam. What do you miss most about home, the culture?
TT: Would it be bad if I said food? I miss my family and the ability to just relax. I miss simplicity.
CLC: If you could rid the world of one (or two things-or more) what would they be and why?
TT: This is tough. From my experiences with people, on Guam or stateside, I hate bias. Coming from a Chamorro father and a Korean mother, I grow up with a lot of distance from others my age. I was an oddity because I wasn’t “local” enough and with my Korean kin, I was not Asian enough. That contributed to silence and feelings of inferiority on my part. Older and wiser, and a whole lot less angrier about who I am, I’ve embraced my differences. I don’t care for ignorance, bias, segregation, judgment at all. I’ve removed it from my life.
CLC: How has your family influenced your work?
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CLC: What are some positives and negatives about being a contemporary Chamorro writer?
TT: Support. Support for other artists/writers is what I give. If someone is doing something new, I’m the first to promote it. It’s tough. We’re taught to be modest, so sometimes it’s hard for me to promote myself. It would be nice to receive more support in general back in Guam or stateside. Sometimes I hear about my work being utilized in the schools in Guam and it makes my week. I’ve had a student message me to tell me they read one of my stories in class at GWHS. That is inspiring and makes me want to write more.
CLC: Which books have left the greatest impression on you?
TT: I read so much, it’s like a treasure hunt, in that I pick up nuggets of truth in each story. I can’t honestly answer this; it’s like picking my favorite song. I still have a mountain of books I need/want to read.
CLC: What organizations or groups are you affiliated with?
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CLC: How is everyday life in the Mainland for you and your family?
TT: A lot of our focus is the family. My husband and I want to raise happy, healthy, respected and respectful children. We enjoy the occasional meet up with family and people from Guam. We enjoy exploring what our state offers in terms of festivals, museums, concerts and so forth.
CLC: Where can we get the latest news about you?
TT: I have an author page on Facebook. I’m fairly active on Twitter, but for something heartier, one can check out my blog, Guam Goddess in Training. Otherwise, my auntie will blast it on Facebook when something awesome happens in my life, like a birthday.
You can discover more about Tanya Taimanglo in the following links and stay tuned for her future projects!