torrey maldonado
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  Torrey Maldonado
Torrey Maldonado

Growing up, Torrey hated reading. No. He hated boring books and books that seemed to hate or dismiss him and where he was from. With books failing him in a failing school, he unplugged so hard from books that he repeated a grade, almost three times. Luckily, he was introduced to NOT boring and culturally responsive books. It inspired him to become a middle school teacher and author. For nearly 20 years, he has used the formula that hooked him to books. Provide mirror and window books for readers to love, they will love those books back, and book-lovers and writers will grow. He still teaches in the Brooklyn neighborhood where he was born and raised and uses his students’ & his experiences to write what readers say "don't feel like books". Voted a "Top 10 Latino Author" & best Middle Grade & Young Adult novelist for African Americans, he was spotlighted as a top teacher by NYC’s former Chancellor. His writing is praised for its current-feel, realness, & universal themes. Learn more at


Q: Why do you write?
As a boy, I wrote to distract my mind from the rough realities of my neighborhood and schools. Writing helped me with my problems but it also brought new problems. There was great pressure for me to follow the crowd and the crowd felt writing equaled school and school equaled corny.  Where I’m from, young female writers are called nerdy but boys get called “soft” because people think school’s a girl’s thing. I never stopped writing though and it paid off. People around me mistook me writing as “soft” but writing turned out to be hard enough to smash my chains of poverty. It helped me avoid ending up dead, in jail, on drugs, or living below my full potential. Now, I write a lot to help young people also improve their lives.
Q: If you had 30 seconds to tell someone about your book, what would you say?
A:  Want to see the reality of teens in city and school life? Want a fast-paced mix of excitement, humor, and, mystery? If you say yes, get Secret Saturdays. You’ll find a familiar male, teen voice and an urban fiction you won’t want to end.

Q: Secret Saturdays really stands out from other urban fiction books. Did you know it would? 
A:  I felt Secret Saturdays was unique because writing it gave me the rush I got from doing flips as a kid all day in Recreation Center pools. My book pumped me up the way handball and video games, shows, movies, and comic books did. I only really knew I made a "stand out" book when middle and high school students, Literacy teachers, and librarians began praising Secret Saturdays as different and great.

Q: Why did you write Secret Saturdays?
A. Some things haven't changed since I was a boy: kids keep dealing with the same stressful problems I had growing up. They live in rough neighborhoods, single-parent families, have deadbeat dads, and trust issues. They wrestle with racism and being racially mixed. On top of that, a lot of their required school reading bores them. So, I mixed my passion for writing and teaching and made Secret Saturdays, which can help young people better handle tough times and gives them an exciting read.