In The Amado Women (Cinco Puntos Press, June), Desiree Zamorano’s first trade-published novel, the strong family ties that bind a mother and her three daughters is the centerpiece of a story that dispels many of the media-fueled stereotyping of Hispanics living in America.

“There are no gardeners, maids, or gang members in my book,” says Zamorano, a playwright, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and director of the Community Literacy Center at Occidental College in Los Angeles. “Hispanics in this country are wildly misrepresented. The media presents a snapshot of who we are that enrages me, but then I take a deep breath and get writing.”

The Amado Women explores the lives of four very different Latinas, each with her own struggles, successes, and secrets. “These women are professionals: a teacher, a financial adviser, and an artist,” Zamorano says. Her characters represent what she refers to as true-to-life middle-class Latinas invisible in the fabric of American culture. The book is not a polemic, however, but a riveting family drama for Latina women that could easily cross the borders of interest for women of all backgrounds. The Amado Women also has the potential to bring attention to and enhance the market for Latina fiction.

Zamorano, who received a B.A. from UC Irvine, takes her job as an educator seriously. “Diversity in literature is so important,” she says. “I have students of all ethnic backgrounds at the literacy center, including Asian, African-American, and Hispanic, and I always find books for them that reflect this diversity.”

Zamorano’s previous books, Modern Cons and Human Cargo, were published digitally by Lucky Bat Books. They are both mysteries that feature PI Inez Leon and represent Zamorano’s penchant for the genre; among her favorite authors are Lee Child and Naomi Hirahara. “A mystery is the only place on this Earth where we really find justice,” she says from her Pasadena home. Noting that with the exception of Cuban and Puerto Rican authors, there are almost no Hispanic mystery writers in contemporary literature, Zamorano hopes to help fill that gap by continuing to write mysteries. There will also be a sequel to The Amado Women.

“Attending BEA as an author was a dream I would never allow myself,” Zamorano says happily. “It’s quite an accomplishment, and I’m thrilled.”

She looks forward to signing copies of her new book today, 2:30–3 p.m., at Table 9 in the Autographing Area.