Award-winning author and immigration attorney Orlando Ortega-Medina draws inspiration from his own life for his latest novel, The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants. A burned-out lawyer named Marc Mendes discovers that his hopes for a more tranquil life are in jeopardy when his life partner, Isaac, is threatened with deportation in this 1990s San Francisco thriller. As Marc battles to save Isaac and his own addictions, a dark and tempting client who wants to entice Marc away from his chaotic existence further upends his world.
The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants is a stirring read as its intriguing noir themes tangles with the more heartwarming, true to life details. Orlando Ortega-Medina has beautifully crafted a tale that honors both his own personal journey and the significance of love in the face of adversity.
To learn more about the story behind the story, read A Good Book To End The Day’s interview with the author below.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
On the day I turned 13, my grandmother uttered the following 28 words that forever changed the course of my life: “Our ancestors were Jews who were forced to convert in Spain in the 15th century. If this hadn't happened, you would be celebrating your becoming Bar Mitzvah today.”
Tell us about The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants.
The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants is about attorney Marc Mendes, who is, himself, the product of generational migration. Marc falls in love with Isaac Perez, a refugee of the civil war in El Salvador, with whom he tries his best to make a life in San Francisco whilst they await the inevitable knock on their door from the US immigration service. The novel tracks the ups and downs of their relationship and an eventual courtroom showdown.
What was the inspiration behind the story?
My life inspired the story. What began as an intended memoir about my own migration to Canada with my same-sex partner, evolved into the novel it is today, a family drama that plays out within a legal thriller.
Your book encompasses several major issues plaguing the world, like marriage equality, discrimination, and immigration rights. What message do you hope readers take away from the story?
There’s still a long way to go before we who are LGBTQ+ are on equal footing with everyone else, given that close to 50% of the US population still considers us to be counterculture. Along my journey, I’ve encountered several other couples with similar stories, and it is to them that I have dedicated The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants. I’m hopeful that my book, as a crossover novel, may engender some empathy for our cause and help swing the pendulum of public opinion a bit more to our side.
What does literary success look like to you?
For me, true literary success means being able to make a living on writing alone.
Do you have any other projects in the works at this time?
I’m actively working on a prequel to The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants, which follows Isaac Perez’s journey from El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the border into the United States. The tentative title of this work is Emerald City,
How can readers keep in touch with you?