HOW TO BE A TEXAN: THE MANUAL
Illustrated by Abi Daniel
Genre: Texas Customs / Social Life / Humor
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Date of Publication: May 3, 2016# of pages: 208, 58 B&W Illustrations
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There are certain things every Texan should know how to do and say, whether your Lone Star roots reach all the way back to the 1836 Republic or you were just transplanted here yesterday. Some of these may be second nature to you, but others . . . well, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have a few handy hints if, say, branding the herd or hosting a tamalada aren’t your usual pastimes. That’s where How to Be a Texan can help.
In a friendly, lighthearted style, Andrea Valdez offers illustrated, easy-to-follow steps for dozens of authentic Texas activities and sayings. In no time, you’ll be talking like a Texan and dressing the part; hunting, fishing, and ranching; cooking your favorite Texas dishes; and dancing cumbia and two-step. You’ll learn how to take a proper bluebonnet photo and build a Día de los Muertos altar, and you’ll have a bucket list of all the places Texans should visit in their lifetime. Not only will you know how to do all these things, you’ll finish the book with a whole new appreciation for what it means to be a Texan and even more pride in saying “I’m from Texas” anywhere you wander in the world.
How has being a Texan influenced your writing?
Being Texan doesn’t necessarily influence my writing (though it certainly influences my speaking, specifically my proclivity to talk in metaphors), but Texas is often the reason for my writing. This state is an endlessly fascinating subject, and one I will continue to cover for my entire life, whether I live here or not.
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
My parents are both voracious readers, and when I was growing up, libraries and bookstores were a big part of my life. I have fond memories of my parents, my brother, and me all reading together in the living room. My father also self-published a book of poetry when he was a young man, so there’s a history of publishing in my family too.
How long have you been writing?
Since I could pick up a pencil? But truthfully, I’ve long considered myself more of an editor than a writer. Though, many editors I know will tell you that editing is often a lot of rewriting.
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
Being a reforming English major, my writing tends to be verbose with excessive use of adjectives and adverbs (I love a good description!). But I try to make my writing conversational. It sounds the way I speak. And while that may seem obvious, it took many years to finally realize that my speaking voice could also be my writing voice.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Carving out the time! I have a full-time job as an editor, and it was sometimes a struggle to go home and continue doing the kind of work I had spent up to ten hours that day doing. But once I created a writing rhythm, it became much easier. I now have an insanely powerful need to be creative from 10 pm to 2 am.
A native Houstonian who has worked for Texas Monthly since 2006, Valdez is the editor of texasmonthly.com. She has written on a wide range of subjects, including more than forty columns on activities every Texan should be able to do, which provided the inspiration for this book. She also helped Texas Monthly launch The Daily Post and TMBBQ.com. FOLLOW ON TWITTER
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