Bessie Flores Zaldívar is a queer writer from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She moved to the United States five years ago, after turning 19. Right now, she’s in her last year of the MFA program at Virginia Tech. Bessie is an eldest daughter, an immigrant, a queer-YA author, a poet, Honduran, oldest-sibling, Central American, an american-sponsored coup survivor, y amante del Reggaeton. Bessie is a Tin House 2021 YA alumni, Pride Poet 2021 fellow, Best of the Net 2020 winner, and a Best New Poets nominee.
Mostly, Bessie is Maria’s and Manuel’s daughter, that’s why her middle name is Maria and her loves will sometimes call her Bessie Maria. Mostly, Bessie is Edgardo’s, Fernanda’s, and Santiago’s oldest sister, that’s why she listens to Bad Bunny religiously.
Bessie is currently working on finishing her YA-novel, which follows a queer Honduran girl, Libertad Morazán, living in Tegucigalpa in 2018, meaning, in the post-electoral crisis. In the midst of civil unrest, Libertad learns of the power and heartbreak in queerness, family, and activism.
Bessie’s fiction chapbook, Rain Revolutions, will be out this October with Long Day Press. It is a collection of three short stories that center periods of uprise in Honduran history. One story takes place in 1954 after the protests against the United Fruit Company on the northern coast and a terrible flood lead to familial tragedy. Another story is set in 1988 after the American embassy is burnt in protest for the illegal extradition of a local drug lord. And the last story is set in 2019, following a long drought and growing sexual tension between a mango-seller and a taxi driver (this last story was selected by Matthew Salesses for Best of the Net, it is linked below).
This is all to say, Bessie writes about Honduras and queerness, family, protest, Reggaeton, and the lemandarin tree that’s been in her grandparent’s backyard for as long as she can remember.
This summer, Bessie’s been teaching YA-plot structures to teenagers via Zoom and listening to every new song Bad Bunny and Rauw Alejandro have dropped. She goes home, to Tegucigalpa, every summer and likes to stay up late with her younger siblings ranking songs and, sometimes, their mom joins them to dance bachata in the kitchen. She’s also recently gotten back into boxing, which she practiced for several years, and is sort of the whole point of her forthcoming story in the newest issue of Half Mystic.
Bessie’s all-time favorite writer is Ocean Vuong. She really loves walking while listening to long podcast interviews of Ocean talking about language, being raised by women, queerness, Americannes, and everything, really. Since Ocean’s newest poem, “Reasons for Staying” came out in Harper’s Magazine in early June, she’s read it almost daily. In Young Adult Fiction, Bessie’s been really into the books of Adam Silvera, Angie Thomas, Mark Oshiro, and Kacen Callender. Bessie’s other favorite poets are Honora Ankong and Shaina Phenix, who you should absolutely be reading and following.
Right now, Bessie is reading A Burning by Megha Majumdar. In the to-read pile is Angie Thomas’ newest YA-novel, Concrete Rose and Adam Silvera’s Infinity Son.