If you're familiar with Claribel Ortega, you'll know that her fans literally "stan Claribel." And for YA fans especially, she's especially stanworthy. Ortega's debut novel, Ghost Squad, comes out next year, and leans into Dominican folklore, as a young girl attempts to save the ghosts of her loved ones. This fluidity of culture in a traditionally homogenous litany of novels for young people is such a welcome change. That's why she's included in this special edition of Bustle's Must Follow, in which we celebrate the incredible Latinx voices you need to follow on Instagram and Twitter.
Describe yourself in one line, including how you identify and what you do.
“I'm a Dominican American author who writes YA and MG books about cute ghosts, rebel witches, death, and brown girls having adventures.”
What do you hope people take away from following you on social media?
“I hope I can make people laugh, or smile, or feel less alone. Especially for the audience I have, which is made up primarily of writers, creatives and people from marginalized communities. It's so easy for us to feel alone or not good enough to be part of the book world, so watching someone who is like you progress in the field and being able to learn from their experiences is so important. Everything around us is stressful enough, so I try to make my platform both a fun escape and a place to see the good and bad of being an author. Am I saying there are lots of memes? Yes.”
When did you first feel that you were a voice for the Latinx community?
“I don't know if I've ever felt this, but I knew I could make a difference in my community when younger Latinx writers started both coming to me for advice and thanking me for helping them through something. Even though it's the whole point of social media and having an online platform, it's still surreal when you realize your words are reaching real people you've never met. That people are paying attention to what you have to say. I think that's an amazing opportunity to make a difference in a thousand tiny little ways.”
Who's another Latinx person you would recommend to follow on social media?
“Daniel José Older! One of my favorite authors and funny af.”
Follow Claribel Ortega on Twitter, @claribel_ortega.