First Language(s): Brazilian Portuguese
Second Language(s): English, Spanish
Lissa Batista is a mother, high school teacher, writer and pretends to be good at domestic duties — you can catch her on most days almost vomiting over dirty dishes after one-pan meals. Her poems have been published in Riff, Saudade County Press, and Jai Alai Books.
What was your favorite book as a child?
My favorite childhood book was Parts by Tedd Arnold. The watercolor illustration was very colorful and that caught my eye initially at the Scholastic book fair. The boy in the book believed he was going to fall apart: strands of hair in his comb, boogers that resembled brains, belly lint looked like guts, and his tooth was loose. The anxiety and the pictures that depicted these big moments he was going through were so funny to me and relatable because of all of the changes I was going through with him. Looking back at it now, there is a level of anxiety and fear when it comes to natural disturbances and the parental role to comfort and reassure everything was going to be alright was uplifting for me. I can’t remember how much I understood at that time but I did sympathize with his fear throughout and felt elated by the end when his parents calmed him down. Plus, the drawings were really good and incorporated the font of the story as well.
Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?
I’m part of a story-telling family on both sides. I grew up with oral stories of our ancestors and I even got in trouble in the 4th grade when the teacher realized when I was reading out the story I wrote for the topic of the day, I was actually improvising. She was impressed at my storytelling skills yet not amused I wasn’t writing them down. My mother always kept diary notebooks too and always encouraged me to write my thoughts or write letters if I wanted to share my feelings or if I was embarrassed to say them out loud. I had sketch books for drawings and poems growing up since middle school.
What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?
My partner was in the Marine Corps and was stationed in the Philippines, so for the annual military ball I decided to take a trip down there. We fly to Boracay and go on their local boats for an island exploration where there is cliff diving. It’s a wooden plank with a fully dressed security guard sitting on the rocks nearby. Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to get hurt in this area. I am terrified of heights but I saw a gay couple struggling to gain confidence to jump so after a shared bond of fears of water and heights, I made a pact that if I jumped they had to too. I jumped and leaned too far back, flailing my legs out and landing hard in the water. I also lost my strapless top to the ocean, which was noted by the security guard just pointing at the pink spot by the rocks. I had to get out of the water topless and I knew I was growing a bruise from my lower back to my thighs. I conquered my fears and have unforgettable memories.
Do you listen to music while reading or writing?
I listen to music to start the creative process. It has to be instrumental or in a foreign language (French and Italian cafe playlists on YouTube are favorites) because I will start breaking out into karaoke mode and lose concentration on my writing. I also use music to create a mood, it makes it easier for me to write about hard topics if Sam Smith or Adele is crooning in the background. I’m a sucker for sad songs that have the power to make me sad out of nowhere.
Thirteen Candles, No Wishes
Issue Fall '21