Sometimes called "The Latina Terry McMillan" and "The Godmother of Chica Lit," Alisa Valdes published her first novel, "The Dirty Girls Social Club," over a decade ago, and she hasn't stopped since. Eleven years, 11 novels, four novelitas, three anthologies and one memoir later, Valdes has been published in 11 languages and been named one of the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in the United States by Time Magazine.

Valdes spent part of her childhod in Glasgow, Scotland, and New Orleans, but most of her formative years were in New Mexico, where she was raised by her mother — an award-winning poet and novelist and a seventh-generation New Mexican of mixed heritage, including Spanish, Mexican, French, Jewish, Native American, English and Irish ancestry — and her father — a writer and retired sociology professor at the University of New Mexico and a Cuban exile who emigrated to the United States in the 1960s. Their combined influence as free-thinking writers not only contributed to fostering her cultural and individual identity but also helped to establish the importance of Hispanic literacy, independence, social confidence and integrity in her life.

"I personally identify as a human being. That is how I see myself. I have long said that labels generally do more to serve the purposes of the labeling class than they do to serve those who are labeled. We'd all be better off without labels," Valdes said during an interview with Latin Post. "That said, I am aware that my mother is a Native New Mexican and that I am very much a New Mexican, having been born and raised here and having family roots that go back to the 16th century in this place. I am also aware that my father was born and raised in Cuba and that he and I are both dual citizens of the United States and Cuba, and so we have some cultural and linguistic links to that place that are very strong."

"I am Maxine's daughter, Nelson's daughter, granddaughter of Kathleen and Clifton Conant, granddaughter of Eugenia Leyva and Ricardo Hernandez. These are human beings, not census boxes," she said.

Valdes explores many of these themes in a new historical novel she's submitted to her agent, based on her father's life as he and over 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban minors arrived in the U.S. in 1961 during Operation Pedro Pan. She's also written the first 100-pages of a suspense novel, "Lines in the Sand," which takes place on the U.S.-Mexico border and details two families' involvement with the Mexican drug cartel and the resulting collateral damage. 

Valdes also identifies as a woman, a mother, a reader, a writer, a runner, a gardener, a cook, a saxophonist, an empathic individual, an entrepreneur and a creative; she said she doesn't believe that people should self-identify based solely on census categories. Valdes says there are no "Latinos" in Latin America, simply complex histories, people and unique systems of separating and joining groups of people.

Ever prolific, she is working on her first science fiction novel, about an "exceptional teen girl in New Mexico who is chosen to broker a visit to earth by aliens from an earth-like planet. In real life, Valdes' doesn't like the typical distictions people make between each other.

"All people on earth are genetically related, only 2,000 generations separating us from mitochondrial Eve, our maternal common ancestor. Race is a human construct and not scientifically real," Valdes said. "We are all people, we are flesh and bone. We are all the same, all equal. I don't find any joy in segregation, no matter who does it."

You can read more at Alisa Valdes' website or on Twitter.