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May 17, 2024

Cesar Barroso: Writer of Junipero Serra

May 17, 2024
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This week, we talked with Cesar Barroso, writer of Junípero Serra, about his work, Saint Junípero, and the craft of writing. You can hear more of Cesar's work here.

TMB: When did you first learn about St. Junípero Serra?

CB: Moving to California after college meant an immersion in Junípero Serra's legacy. His life and works left us cities and missions, but misconceptions swirled around him. I was drawn to find the truth behind the Saint.

TMB: What's your favorite story about him that you couldn't fit into the final version?

CB: Beyond the familiar narrative of Spanish colonialism lay a lesser-known aspect of Serra: the defender. He meticulously documented abuses against Indigenous peoples, sending petitions to Spain to protect them. Unfortunately letter writing and fighting legal cases from across an ocean doesn't make for good audio-drama!

TMB: What was something that you learned while writing Serra that surprised you?

CB: I learned that Serra wasn't a solitary figure, but a great friend who knew how to count on those around him; his story is enriched by his Franciscan companions, Francisco and Juan; and the noble soldier Gaspar. Together, they embarked on a grand endeavor, a testament to teamwork.

TMB: How was this project similar or different to some of the other Saints' stories that you've written?

CB: This project allowed me to revisit the Americas, a setting I explored previously in the Juan Diego series. Interestingly, this story, set 300 years before Serra, features a subtle connection to his narrative. A key difference here is the focus on a group of protagonists. Like I said before, Junípero wasn't working alone. Writing about their collaborative spirit, this project felt refreshingly like a Franciscan superhero team-up.

TMB: Do you have any advice for young and aspiring writers?

CB: For aspiring writers, my advice is simple: read extensively. Your writing will reflect the quality of the material you consume. While the creative process can be fun, don't let that overshadow the seriousness required. Approach writing with the dedication a lawyer brings to law or a doctor to medicine. Success may not mean becoming a bestselling novelist, but you can make a living. If you have a story to tell, tell it.

TMB: What's something you hope listeners take away from the finished series?

CB: My hope for this project is to offer a nuanced perspective on 18th century America. The narrative surrounding Spanish immigration has been distorted. The Americas, particularly the West Coast and Central and South America, are a tapestry woven from rich cultures, Catholicism, and a commitment to spreading the Faith. Ultimately, I want listeners to be equipped with knowledge and courage. Junípero Serra, a man marked by a limp, dedicated his life to his faith and the people of California. He deserves to be remembered accurately, not through falsehoods. Let us defend him and set the record straight.

César Barroso is a Venezuelan-American writer and photographer. After earning a degree in Film and Photography at the University of Miami, he worked in talent representation in Los Angeles for a decade, eventually becoming partner for a world-class modeling agency. During that time, César fed his passion for writing through a number of projects, including writing for the Spanish version of a TV series. Following the pandemic, César chose to pursue photography, visual arts, and content creation full-time. He recently opened his own studio in Austin, TX, the city where he now lives with his wife Laura and their four children.

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