📚 A Bookish Chat with 'The Portuguese Immigrant' Devin Meireles | Author Interview | #AuthorInterview #BlogTour #Interview

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Today we welcome Devin Meireles to The Writer's Life e-Magazine! Devin is the author of the nonfiction narrative, The Portuguese Immigrant. This interview is part of his The Potuguese Immigrant Blog Tour by Pump Up Your Book. Enjoy!

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Devin Meireles is a healthcare administrative worker from Toronto that moonlights as a freelance writer. Apart from creative writing, Devin enjoys films, history, genealogy, and stamps in his passport. He wrote a narrative nonfiction book about his grandfather’s immigration story and has published many articles in literary journals and cultural magazines.

His latest book is the narrative nonfiction, The Portuguese Immigrant: Atlantic Heritage Story.

You can connect with him at Instagram at www.instagram.com/lusoloonie

TWL: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  How did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Devin: Thanks for having me! The idea came after years of collecting genealogical data. My intent was to learn more about my family and why my grandfather came to Canada. I wanted to understand his experience of immigrating here. My discoveries were profound and it was poetic for me to know that history. There were things I learned about that I never knew before. It helped me to appreciate where I am today. It’s a great privilege to be Canadian-born with so many opportunities at my doorstep. When the pandemic hit, I started to write all that ancestry information into a narrative nonfiction story and it evolved from there. Many months later, the project morphed into a biography manuscript that I wanted to share with my relatives and other immigrants alike that could benefit or be inspired from what I did.

TWL: Can you give us a short excerpt?

Devin: “Sloshing over a damp, unpaved road through the village, each step in the mud brought her closer to him. She was donned in a black, hooded cape that covered her wholly from the misty rain. Her bright eyes glowed like a cat, reflecting off the sun that peaked through the overcast. Birds scattered for shelter, but the shifty weather could not deter her feelings. Flying parallel with the eagles that flew above the clouds, her heart soared just as high while her attentive gaze was focused ahead.

She was driven towards his warmth and kindness; he was the apple in her glittering eyes. When inhibition stood between, they denied their adoration for each other, fearing judgment from the townspeople. However, unbridled love saw no bounds and could not be withstood. Maria Angelina de Conceição Cabral, my bisavó (great-grandmother), defied taboo after falling in love with an older man. She encapsulated the earliest demonstration of nonconformity that I had uncovered. 

Situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, on a remote utopia, her freguesia (village) was of a few hundred people that typically adopted conventional lifestyles of the time. On São Miguel Island, the islanders seldomly challenged the status quo. Their homeland is one of nine volcanic islands that make up the Azores archipelago, west of mainland Portugal. At one time or another, it was speculated to be the site of the mythical Atlantis, the lost city where buried treasures lie underwater. In whatever way, I had brought to light the legacy of my bisavó while searching for my family heritage.

She grew up hearing jarring tales of folklore and overseas conquests that contributed to the mystique of island history. Walking the storied coastline, haunted by generations passed, her journey’s end was approaching. She headed for the local variety store that sold everyday goods, where he ran day-to-day operations. As proprietor of the business, he was an influential member of the community whom she adored. As she came of age after the turn of the century, her heart was set on the middle-aged man, Manuel de Lima Meireles, my bisavô (great-grandfather). He was more than twenty years her senior.”

TWL: What part of the book was the most fun to write?

Devin: Diving into my father’s birth was the most fun. When I took a deeper dive into that date, November 8, I was amazed with what my grandmother overcame to get to that point. She came from a place with far less resources and opportunities. She was accustomed to solving things for herself. When she gave birth to my father, she took herself to the hospital while my grandfather was out working. At the same time, the American election happened south of the border. By the time my father was born, JFK had been elected and it was symbolic of a new beginning, both internationally and at my grandparents’ home. It was the beginning of a new era. My father was their greatest achievement after so many years of hardship in the Azores.

TWL: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

Devin: I wrote this story without breaking the bank. I invested in some DNA research and ancestry websites however the majority of my information came from interviews with family members. With what they told me, I was able to expand on the storytelling to incorporate historical events. Researching the typical environment for the time was one of the biggest contributions. Learning about the environmental factors and political landscape surrounding the time was important to look at. As I understood more about those external factors, I was able to draw out a dialogue surrounding life events as I knew how things were going to pan out.

TWL: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?

Devin: I am developing a story from my personal experience of visiting the Portuguese islands. My Atlantic heritage really inspires me. Hopefully I can get something out next year. 

TWL: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?

Devin: I want the reader to appreciate how special they are. We all have a family story. The sacrifices that our ancestors have endured is what paved the way for all of us. If we take a moment to reflect on that history, we can recognize what it took to get to us today. Commemorating what our ancestors lived for is not only a beautiful gesture to pay homage to them, but the best way for us to understand how remarkable we all are!

TWL: Do you have any final words?

Devin: Stay curious. Write it down. And as time passes, you will be amazed with how much you have collected. Thanks for your interest in my story and I hope that you will be inspired to do the same!


Title: The Portuguese Immigrant: Atlantic Heritage Story
Author: Devin Meireles
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 197
Genre: Narrative Nonfiction

Book Blurb

The Portuguese Immigrant: Atlantic Heritage Story is a narrative non-fiction book about the author’s family history—particularly the lives of their paternal ancestors from Sao Miguel Island in Portugal. The story begins with their great-grandparents before shifting focus to their paternal grandparents and their unconditional love for each other. Their relationship overcame many obstacles of the time and they were physically separated for nearly three years after leaving the homeland. They became immigrants in Canada—a place where the author found themselves born and raised, being something that they are grateful for yet fascinated to reflect on the history of how it happened.

Weaving a wonderful tale of the struggles and triumphs as well as the rich Portuguese culture of their ancestry, the book follows their grandfather, Vovô, who was the impetus for life in the New World. Embarking on the journey of lifetime, they carried out a mission guided by true love to carve out a fighting chance for the future of his family.

The author speaks on various characteristics embodied and behavioural traits that have shaped their sense of self today while forging a deep connection with their ancestors. Understanding more about themselves than anticipated along the way to show that it really is all in the family. The history that behooves us has been set out for those with the privilege to continue down the path—a sentiment that the author draws out with great detail. Their descriptions of events set the scene to take the reader back in time.

Book Information

Release Date: January 18, 2022

Publisher:  Independent

Soft Cover: ISBN:  978-1777996611; 197 pages; $18.99; eBook $4.99; FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3IsJSSC 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3NUhMAB

The Writer’s Life

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