Author:Hilbert, Jessie

When Ingrid Rojas Contreras was in school, she was doubted by many that she could ever do something in journalism. "Well, maybe you should study something else," her teachers would say to her. That statement never stopped ner.

Rojas Contreras was born in Bogota, Colombia. Both her father and mother came from lower-income families and were the first people in each of their families to travel to the city. Her childhood consisted of hot weather, hard work, but a lot of love with big family gatherings, holidays and story sharing. When she was 14, she left Colombia with her parents and went to Venezuela, and from there she moved around, a number of times. However, one thing she knew for sure, was that she always wanted to be a journalist. Although she grew up in a family where no one really knew anyone who wrote, and there wasn't necessarily a writing mentor to look up to, her parents pressured her into finding a way to study journalism. So she did.

She set out to do what she wanted to do and made her way to the States to attend journalism school in Chicago under a student visa. Rojas Contreras had five different student visas during her time in journalism school and eventually got her green card. Just this last year, she became a citizen.

During her time in Chicago, she struggled but eventually found the niche she was looking for. "I loved the aspect of writing a story, doing the research, doing the interviews, and then coming back with all of that material to start writing," she tells us. However, reporting stories wasn't letting her express what she felt like she needed to express. "Once 1 got into fiction, it really satisfied that hunger for that expression I was looking for," Rojas Contreras tells us.

After turning to fiction, Rojas Contreras never turned back from it. Recently, she published her first novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree, that made an impressive debut to the public. "I had seen so much throughout my time in Bogota," she tells us. "I was going through different visas at the time when the story first came to me. I was feeling homesick and couldn't travel back, so 1 started to describe the country. Since I couldn't be there, I decided to put it down on paper, and it kind of made it a reality on the page."

Since publishing her first novel, life has been exciting, yet and different. "When you're writing your first book, you're in your own little world at your own desk," she says. "Once you publish a book, showing up to your desk is...

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