Aldina Vazao Kennedy is no stranger to good storytelling. "My mother is a wonderful storyteller, as was her father. That’s how they entertained themselves at night in the pre-television era," she said.
As a participant in a beginning-level fiction workshop, There's a Story in Everyday, at the Center for Continuing Education's Writing Institute that met on three Saturdays last fall, Ms. Vazao Kennedy worked on three short stories that, in June, received the Bronx Council on the Arts' BRIO (Bronx Recognizes its Own) Award for excellence in fiction writing.
"Aldina had her stories with her; rich and beautiful stories inspired by her family heritage," said her instructor, Patricia Dunn. "What she did on those Saturdays was to figure out how to tell her stories. She figured out her structure and her genre. She transformed her non-fiction into compelling and honest fiction.”
In her workshop of fewer than 10 students, and in her one-on-on conferences with her instructor, Ms. Vazao Kennedy was able to see the potential to transform her family's experiences as Portuguese Americans into fiction. It was during the conference meetings that she was encouraged to take the seeds she had already gathered through the stories told to her and her personal interviews and to add the details, drama, and characterization necessary for a compelling short story.
Ms. Vazao Kennedy said that her stories are all based on real things, real people and real events that took place. But, she said "there were so many gaps, so many things I didn't know. There aren't witnesses anymore. I had to become the witnesses and make up what could have happened."
Her goal is to publish a novel consisting of 12 interconnected short stories. She continues to build her collection through participation in workshops and writing courses, such as those offered at Writing Institute.