By Melissa Warner Published March 20, 2022
Vincent Tirado, author of Burn Down, Rise Up , vividly remembers weekly trips to the library with their best friend. Every Saturday the pair would “pick out a stack of books to read,…and the next week we would come back..and pick out another stack.” Growing up, this author “was all about” YA books. They described a particularly fond memory of reading The Queen Geek Social Club (by Laura Preble), but were distressed that the robot the “nerdy girl” had built was not a focal point of the story – “I wanted more about the robot!” When asked if they had considered writing fan fiction about the robot, they said, “in fan fiction [the book’s characters] are not my characters, I don’t know them. They are completely alien people to me.”
This author’s characters don’t talk to them as part of the writing process “as much as they come to life on their own.” In the first few chapters, Tirado has to “force them to say or do anything, and then it gets easier because it’s like I’m getting to know a person.” For them, the writing process is “more like I’m watching [the characters] live their lives and learning more about their lives and learning more about them as I go.” The overall publishing process was “very easy – my agent made it very easy for me to understand what was going on.” Though, they did describe the revision process as “revision hell,” and wishes they had known more about “grammar rules” as that “would have made editing so much easier.”
Tirado observed that a common misconception about being a writer is that “a lot of people don’t think criticism is what they’ll get from their writing. Not only will you be criticized for X, Y, or Z, you need to learn not to take it as a personal attack.” They also caution about thinking that since one is the writer, one “knows best.” Tirado said that “[criticism] is not about you being a bad writer, it’s about how to make your story stronger.”
When asked why they thought Burn Down, Rise Up was published versus any other author or book, they said they think that “in today’s social climate and entertainment wise, people have kind of hit a rut with certain things…. So now we’re at a point where what people are really getting interested in is books about characters of color and different cultures. I’m from the Bronx, with a particular background,” and readers are willing to give a new kind of story a try. The original title by Tirado was The Next Stop Is , thinking about what one hears on trains in New York. As with many other authors, this publication is not the author’s first written book – “In high school I wrote a book that was so terrible!” Their next book in progress, also with a horror theme, is about “a small town and secrets” where one of the town’s common phrases is “we don’t swim here.” Covid affected their writing process in that they used to be “the stereotypical writer in a cafe” but has not been able to do so.
As a young child, they wanted to be an artist, “whatever was creative” as they enjoyed making things. By age 15, they thought “I’m going to become a doctor because I love to help people.” Laughing, they continued, “Look at me now doing absolutely neither!” In high school, Tirado was “sporty,” playing soccer and running track and cross country. In college, they did major in pre-med, but have “nothing but debt and anxiety to show for it.” Yet, they wish they’d known as a teenager that “it is not the end of the world if you don’t become a doctor. There are a plethora of decisions you can make.” One of this author’s interesting decisions has been performing minor voice acting in podcasts. They are the voice of Calypso on Meddling With Monsters , although their day job is being a software engineer.