Welcome to another edition of the Staying Awesome Interview Series! Today is quite special because I’m featuring a friend. This lady and I have known each other for six years. (!!!) We met in grad school as English majors, and since then, we’ve been gushing about our favorite books, movies, and T.V. shows.
Today I’d like to give a warm welcome to the awesome Laura Montalvo!
What makes Laura awesome?
She’s an English teacher.
She’s also a Cast Member at the Disney Store.
Her vlog, Literally Booked, focuses on Y.A. and M.G. book reviews (but mostly Shadowhunters gushing at the moment) (especially Malec gushing) (my favorite kind of gushing).
She’s a cosplayer. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I get to find out which character she’s cosplaying as for our annual visits to PR Comic-Con.
Without further ado, here’s my interview with Laura!
1) You recently launched a book review vlog called Literally Booked. Tell me about the decision to start your vlog and what viewers can expect from your reviews.
Long ago, during the Twilight days, I used to have an entire channel dedicated to Twilight. The books, the movies, everything. It was quite popular and I enjoyed making videos, but unfortunately I made one too many fanvideos and my channel got shut down. It lives on only in infamy. Now that I’m teaching, I feel the need to spread the joy of reading once more, and what’s easier than a YouTube channel? Plus, filming is a lot of fun. That’s why I decided to get back on the Tube.
2) I remember meeting you inside a college classroom (oh, the old days…). We were both English grad students about to embark on a Shakespearean journey, but our friendship was born out of a shared love for young adult lit. When did you first discover your passion for Y.A.?
AH yes, ye old Shakespeare class. I’ve been reading Y.A. for as long as I can remember. Back in the day, they were just “children’s novels” and I would order them through those Scholastic catalogues we got at school. I think the first more mature book I read was Harry Potter in the 6th grade, and from then on, I was hooked on Y.A. I think because I read Y.A. as I was growing up, I felt more connected with the characters that experienced what I experienced, and now dealing with teens a teacher, I still feel connected to those characters.
3) Like me, your day job involves teaching English. Your students are in middle school and high school, though, which puts you in direct contact with teens. In your experience, what’s the most rewarding aspect of discussing literature with teens? Has there been a favorite book/short story among your students?
Being an ESL teacher is quite challenging because, though many of my students share my passion for reading, their difficulty with the language makes it harder for them to explore reading. However, there have been some joyful moments. For example, my rowdy eighth graders enjoyed The Diary of Anne Frank so much they watched the entire 3 hour movie in complete silence. Another joyous moment occurred when I brought in some Y.A. novels to give away to my students and they were gone in less than 5 minutes. There were more than 15 novels! That proves that they truly enjoy reading and I hope further on we can get into discussing more novels and stories in depth.
4) Besides working as an English teacher, you’re also a Disney Store Cast Member! What’s the best thing about being a CM? On the flip side, what’s the most challenging?
Being a CM is the most rewarding job. When I have bad days, I go into the store and feel immediately better. There’s always a joyful atmosphere among the CMs that is contagious and that’s what I love most about it. The flip side? I have none, really. This is my dream job and I’ve made so many wonderful connections, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
5) As if you weren’t cool enough, you cosplay at local fan conventions! You even gave a presentation on fandom at a pop culture conference we both participated in last year. I’m curious: what does fandom mean to you personally? How would you define it?
Fandom is a huge part of my life and I’m truly grateful for it. I can honestly say I’ve made all my close friends through fandom, whatever type it may be, because we’ve all connected because of interests and things we enjoy. I’m a single adult with a full-time job, so sometimes life can get kind of boring and lonely. But every night I get home to discuss the latest episode of Shadowhunters with friends, or RP online, or even just chat, and that makes it so much better. I know some people think fandoms are weird, but come on. Have you ever loved something so much you couldn’t stop talking about it? That’s fandom.
**Bonus question: which Hogwarts House have you been Sorted into??
I’m a Ravenclaw for sure! I’m not brave enough for Gryffindor!
Thanks so much to Laura for letting me interview her! You can find her online at the following spots: