Florida Writer

Florida Writer

November 20, 2020

by Yuly Restrepo

Recently, the University of Tampa’s Macdonald-Kelce library invited me to read my story “Pablo Escobar” for its UTWrites series. The story is part of the Tampa Bay Noir anthology, which was released in August of this year, and I would say this is my most notorious publication to date, given that the book also includes short stories by well-known Florida writers like Lisa Unger, Sarah Gerard, and Tim Dorsey. I’m very thankful to Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times book editor and editor of this collection, for inviting me to contribute, given that I’m unknown.

Writing this story was a special challenge for me. Up to the point where I received Colette’s invitation, all my writing had been based in Colombia. It is the place where I was born and raised, and the place that haunts my imagination. But this story had to be set in Tampa Bay, and feel from Tampa Bay. This was very daunting as I didn’t believe I was truly a Florida writer, never mind I had lived in Largo for the past twenty years or so. This is because as an immigrant, I’ve always felt like I’m caught between places, and don’t really know which I can truly call home. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided that my entry point to the story would be precisely that: the feeling of dislocation, of ceasing to belong. And so the story ended up being about a young girl who has just immigrated to Largo from Colombia, and her tense friendship with her first American family, which ultimately turns tragic. Ultimately, the process of putting the story together was very pleasurable, and I’m so looking forward to writing more stories set in Florida.

Here’s my reading of the story for the Macdonald-Kelce library:

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