Not only is she an extremely talented writer, but also an utterly lovely person. A mother and a wife, a true Wonder Woman – Tanya Taimanglo – agreed to answer a few questions regarding her book, ‘Attitude 13’, as well as her beloved Guam. Here’s what she had to say…
Pasifika Tales: Why did you decide to write ‘Attitude 13’?
Tanya Taimanglo: There wasn’t a large body of Chamorro literature out there in 2010, and what was available was mainly textbook style or history. There was some fiction and I wanted to add a collection of stories that reflected the culture of Guam. I think we, Chamorros, need it.
PT: Where did you draw your inspiration from?
TT: I’ve always loved writing and much of my writing reflects how I was raised in a Chamorro-Korean household. Tie in an American influence, and I guess you have me. I observe life around me. I people watch and spin off scenarios in my mind and jot those down as well. Some of these observations will be inspiring enough to flesh out into a short story or full novel.
PT: Are any of the stories based on real-life events?
TT: There are 13 short stories in my collection and while none of them are directly autobiographical, many strands of my life are woven into these narratives. Characters may mirror people I know, but I hope that universal themes presented in these stories tie the reader to the text.
PT: Which story do you like the most?
TT: That’s a tough one. I love some stories more than others, but I have to say I’m quite fond of ‘Off Road’, the 13th story. I love cinema and would like to believe that one day a Chamorro will win an Oscar.
PT: Would you say that your book describes the real Guam?
TT: That’s a tricky question. On one hand, my stories serve as ambassadors to the culture for those outside of it, on the other hand, the people I hope the stories reflect may not feel as if describes the ‘real Guam’. I don’t stress about that too much. The stories are my interpretation of the Chamorro culture I love. It’s my form of art and I would hope the real Guam comes through.
PT: What do you love about the island?
TT: Guam will always be my home. I miss the warm weather, the sense of family and the slower pace of island living.
PT: And what do you hate?
TT: I don’t miss the ravages of typhoons quite frankly. I once managed without electricity for about 8 weeks, with spotty water service too. I recall getting ready for my ten year high school reunion using bottled water to bathe. Definitely don’t miss that.
PT: Chamorro culture is worth cultivating, isn’t it?
TT: Definitely! All culture is. I don’t speak my native tongue, which I can change over time and practice. But, I do impart on my children aspects of our culture I value as tenets for my life. We are a strong, proud people who have endured so much. I come from a line that dates back to 2,000 B.C. That is remarkable. True, there is no pure Chamorro, but the culture is wonderful and we must keep it alive.
PT: You’ve been living in mainland US for quite a few years. Can you see yourself coming back to Guam one day?
TT: I never say never. As a Navy spouse, Washington State is my home now, and formerly San Diego, California. When I got married on Guam, ten years ago, I made my husband promise we would come back some day. I will always love my island home. I don’t know where the next ten years will take us, but I know I will have a warm, sunny place to return to if I needed.