I am honored to feature today’s #MediaMonday, Fernanda Santos, a veteran New York Times reporter and its Phoenix Bureau Chief since 2012, and the author of a new book, “The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and One of the Deadliest Days in American Firefighting.”
Prior to moving to Phoenix, home base for her coverage of the Southwest, Fernanda covered public education and politics in New York City. (I bet that was interesting!) Fernanda received her undergraduate degree in social communications from Pontificia Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and her graduate degree in print journalism from Boston University.
In her free time, Fernanda enjoys hiking Piestewa Peak, doing hot yoga (she says it makes the summer heat feel less hot) and hanging out with her husband and their daughter.
So, Fernanda, time to share!
What do you want to tell the blogosphere about yourself today?
When I set out to report my book, I faced questions and sharp resistance as I worked to penetrate the world of wildland firefighting, which is still a man’s world. I also faced my own insecurities — as an immigrant whose native language isn’t English, I kept asking myself why it was that I’d decided to write a book in English in the first place. Could I do it? Would I fail? These were the battles I fought inside my head.
I’m from Brazil. I came to the United States as an adult, I’d never written a story in English, and now I’ve written a book about wildfires. A very American story, in some ways. In the end, writing turned out to be an empowering experience for me. We know all the conventions, the boxes people try to fit us into. I’m a woman, I’m an immigrant,
I’m a Latina; therefore I’m expected to know about immigrants, Latinos, parenting. Not about firefighters. But I did it, and enough firefighters out there have praised my book, so I believe I did it well.
My daughter is six, and I’ve been talking to her about what people say you can and can't do, what girls can’t do. And in Latin culture we’re very respectful to authority. So I’m telling her, sometimes you have to break the rules. Sometimes you have to try something that people think you’re never going to be able to do, so you can prove to them that you can. It really taught me a lot about how far I can go.