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Arts & Culture

From Ballet To Author: An Unusual Path

Nephi Nevin
Mario Alberto Zambrano

A first-time author is coming to the San Antonio Book Festival next month, and I came to find that his back story is as fascinating as the book he’s written. Meet Mario Alberto Zambrano, whose novel-writing career began on the stage.

“I was a dancer for a very long time. I never read as a kid and I never wrote short stories…”

Being an author is Zambrano's second life, after retiring from an international career as a ballet dancer, he began writing. Surprisingly his first novel was picked up.

“It’s titled Loteria" he said, "which is a Mexican board game, very similar to Bingo, but instead of being based in numbers, there is a collection of fifty-four images. And I when I was younger I would play this game with my extended family at my grandmother’s house.”

But a Mexican board game isn’t a story—it took a fascinating character and a slow reveal mystery she would unfold through the game to create that story. Zambrano explains: “She is a young Mexican-American girl, she’s eleven years old."

She’s suffered some sort of trauma and can’t speak, but is convinced to reveal through the images on the Loteria cards what’s happened.

“And whatever that image is it inspires a memory from what happened in her family” he says.  

Zambrano will be here with nearly 100 other authors for the San Antonio Book Festival on April 5th, where he’ll speak and host a Q&A session. He's also excited to meet his colleagues at the festival: “Established authors are going to be there who I hope to meet, one in particular, Sandra Cisneros, who inspired me for the book Loteria.”

It all happens at the San Antonio Public Library downtown, and the public is invited, where you can hear from authors like Zambrano.

"I’m just, just thrilled about it" he says.

For more on Zambrano: http://marioalbertozambrano.com/

For more on the San Antonio Book Festival: http://www.saplf.org/festival/