Marcos McPeek Villatoro '84 was raised in a home where storytelling was a way of life. As a result, his own storytelling has always contained elements of the unique family culture created by his Salvadoran mother and Appalachian father.
Recently, this approach brought Villatoro, already an award-winning novelist, a Los Angeles-area Best Non-news Writing Emmy for a story relating his family's current-day garage sale woes to the nation's overall economic struggles that appeared on the L.A. PBS-affiliate KCET's show "SoCal Connected."
Perhaps not surprisingly, his experience writing for KCET has led Villatoro, who holds the Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair in Writing at Mount St. Mary's College, to seek new mediums through which to share his family's stories. "I wanted to crack open the door a bit on what I was doing, but the proof still needs to be in the quality of my work," explains Villatoro.
In true form-following-function fashion, a recent project of Villatoro's involved recruiting his wife, Michelle, and their four children as his crew for the filming of "Tamale Road" in El Salvador. First conceived to tell the story of his quest for the origins of his grandmother's tamale recipe, the documentary evolved into the telling of another story–of a local village massacre and the women and girls who survived it, among them his grandmother and mother.
Naturally, the journey begins with the telling of his parents' meeting and marriage that would lead to the cultural amalgam Villatoro never tires of exploring.
"I'm always working on the craft to make it beautiful," he says, "but beauty to me is connecting different cultures."
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