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Senior Spotlight: Sofi Aguilera blends art, work

Zeisha Bennett / Thresher

By Sejal Gupta     2/28/23 11:42pm

When Brown College senior Sofi Aguilera first wrote her fantasy book, “Paragon,” she didn’t know she was about to become the youngest published author in Mexico. Now, five years and a book series later, Aguilera is preparing for a full-time role at a California-based venture capitalist firm and, of course, still writing.

Aguilera began writing at fifteen as an outlet to express the emotions that arose from her own life. 

“I never felt I could express my emotions in a safe way with anyone, so I started doing so through my books,” Aguilera said. “[My characters] are very explosive with their emotions because it was everything I had suppressed.”

“Paragon,” which was published in 2018, is the first book in Aguilera’s “The Lost Origin” series. The series follows seventeen-year-old Matt Anderson, who discovers he has superpowers after his parents’ murder. At 17, Aguilera translated the book into Spanish, published it and sold 5,000 copies in her first year.

Aguilera said she decided to pursue self-publishing for her latest book “Andromeda,” which was published and listed on Amazon on Jan. 25, 2023. Upon the release of “Andromeda,” Aguilera said she received immediate support from the Rice community.

“When you see [your book] on a computer it’s very different from holding it,” Aguilera said. “The Rice community’s very supportive. I feel like we like helping each other out, so that’s helped a lot.”

With multiple published books, Aguilera is no stranger to the daunting writing process. Aguilera said she blocks out full days to write. She begins by fleshing out her characters and their motivations — including the antagonists. 

“Finding their humanity was really important,” Aguilera said. “I feel like that’s what makes a good villain, when you notice that they’re just human beings also trying to do what they think is best.”

When Aguilera wrote “Andromeda,” she prioritized historically accurate mythology in her writing. Now, she plans to use her bioengineering degree to write novels based on real research and innovation. 

“Bioengineering is the field that’s turning science fiction into reality,” Aguilera said. “If I want to write better stories, I have to understand the science behind them.” 

Aguilera finds stories everywhere: she interned at a venture capital firm specializing in biotech start-ups last summer and was inspired by the advanced technologies she saw.

“I asked my boss, ‘How do you know who has a good startup?’ [My boss said] the most important thing is how well they can tell a story,” Aguilera said.

Aguilera said she looks forward to graduating and dedicating more time to her books. Her active imagination leaves her constantly dreaming up new book ideas, but she reminds aspiring writers that the only way to turn ideas into published works is to put pen to paper.

“A lot of people wait for the right time … there’s never a right time to write. If you have an idea, just write,” Aguilera said.

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