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Podcast 051: Dreaming through Plots with Daniel Olivas

Tori and Mabelle talk with Daniel Olivas about writing his first play at age 60; He penned “Waiting for Godínez” as a response to the absurdity of the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the previous administration’s Family Separation Policy. Daniel shares about his life as a fiction writer, anthologist, and book critic, as well as his day job as a senior lawyer with the California Department of Justice. Other topics include how Daniel’s creative writing has made him a better legal writer; playwriting as a 24-hour a day job; and the incredible influence of his parents.

Writing Prompt (courtesy of Daniel Olivas)

The Importance of Silence.  Write two pages of dialogue where half of the dialogue includes silence and the other half includes non-responsive answers. That situation can create a lot of tension when you have two characters who aren’t listening to each other, aren’t responding properly to each other, or are not fully engaged in the conversation.

Connect with Daniel:

Daniel’s bio:

Daniel A. Olivas is the author of ten books and editor of two anthologies. His latest books are How to Date a Flying Mexican: New and Collected Stories (University of Nevada Press, 2022), The King of Lighting Fixtures: Stories (University of Arizona Press, 2017), and Crossing the Border: Collected Poems (Pact Press, 2017).

Widely anthologized, Daniel has also written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Guardian, La Bloga, BOMB, High Country News, Huffington Post, Alta Journal, Los Angeles Times, El Paso Times, The Rumpus, and the Jewish Journal.

Daniel is also a playwright. He is a member of the Dramatist Guild, and his plays may be read at New Play Exchange. ​Daniel’s first full-length play, Waiting for Godínez, was selected for the Playwrights’ Arena Summer Reading Series (2020), The Road Theatre’s 12th Annual Summer Playwrights Festival (2021), Garry Marshall Theatre New Works Festival (2022), and was a Semi-Finalist for the 2021 Blue Ink Playwriting Award (American Blues Theater). Daniel was selected for Circle X Theatre’s inaugural Evolving Playwrights Group where he adapted his novel, The Book of Want, for the stage, culminating in a streamed reading (2021). Daniel’s play, Waiting, had its world premiere with Playwrights’ Arena on July 24, 2021.

Daniel, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, grew up near downtown Los Angeles. He now makes his home in Southern California with his wife, and they have an adult son. Daniel received his degree in English literature from Stanford University and law degree from UCLA. By day, he is an attorney.

Read the Op Ed by Daniel A. Olivas here: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-06-06/chicano-mexican-american-immigrant-literature

Check out the Garry Marshall Theatre’s 2022 New Work Festival here: https://www.garrymarshalltheatre.org/newworksfestival2022

Watch the Road Theatre’s reading of “Waiting for Godínez”: https://roadtheatre.org/event/spf-12-waiting-for-godinez/

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