Home > NewsRelease > Millennial Angst, Dark Humor, & Not Giving Up with Mona at Sea’s Elizabeth Gonzalez James
Millennial Angst, Dark Humor, & Not Giving Up with Mona at Sea’s Elizabeth Gonzalez James
San Francisco Writers Conference San Francisco Writers Conference
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Francisco, CA
Friday, July 23, 2021


Before becoming a writer, Elizabeth Gonzalez James was a waitress, a pollster, an Avon lady, and an opera singer. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Idaho Review, The Rumpus, StorySouth, PANK, and elsewhere, and have received numerous Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. Currently she is a regular contributor to Ploughshares Blog.

Podcast host Matthew Felix and Elizabeth discussed her new book, Mona at Sea, about an overachieving millennial who, despite her potential, finds herself unemployed, living with her parents, and adrift in life and love.

Given that the protagonist is a millennial whose prospects are upended by the Great Recession, Elizabeth discussed how and why millennials have gotten a bad rap.

Since both Mona, the protagonist, and Elizabeth are half Mexican American and half white, Elizabeth talked about the importance of race, both in the story and as someone who typically passes for white—and whether having only one Mexican American parent gives an author the right to write Mexican characters.

Mona’s primary coping mechanism is cutting, a form of self-mutilation. Elizabeth shared why she was interested in cutters and what learned about them while researching the novel.

Despite Mona’s cynicism and the darkness in the book, it is also very funny. Elizabeth discussed incorporating humor into an otherwise serious book, including how doing so served the story and how she struck the right balance.

Elizabeth, who didn’t study writing in college, shared how and when she decided to become a writer.

She also shared how she made her mark in the literary world without having an MFA and the connections that come with one.

Elizabeth shared her journey to publication, which took ten years and included 40 rejections.

Elizabeth explained the advantages of working with smaller presses, including the Santa Fe Writers Project, where Mona at Sea eventually found its home.

Podcast editing and episode notes by author and podcast producer and host Matthew Félix (matthewfelix.com).

The San Francisco Writers Conference and the San Francisco Writing for Change conference are both produced by the San Francisco Writers Conference & San Francisco Writers Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. The SFWC Director is Laurie McLean.  For registration help, contact Richard Santos at registrations@sfwriters.org. For SFWC sponsorship opportunities, contact Carla King at Carla@carlaking.com
The SFWC website is: www.SFWriters.org

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