Wow, what an honor to be the first Curator for @CatalanVoices! My name is Liz Castro and I am a bestselling computer book writer, and lately a publisher of books about Catalonia in English. Currently based in rural Western Massachusetts on a small farm with sheep and chickens and a speedy DSL connection, I love making things—from Maple Syrup and hand-knit sweaters to computer manuals and hand-published books.
My connection to Catalonia began with an interest in bilingualism and sociolinguistics: why do people speak a given language when they have two to choose from? I had taken a course in Catalan at Berkeley, and traveled a few times to Barcelona before going in 1987, at the age of 22. I felt at home right away. Bilingualism went from theoretical to practical as I realized how important speaking Catalan was. You could communicate with Spanish, but you could only really connect with Catalan.
In Barcelona, I first worked with a computer company who wanted to market a computer program in the US (and needed my translation skills), and then started a publishing company that specialized in localizing software and eventually in publishing computer books about the Macintosh in Spanish—a tiny but untapped market in 1990.
In 1993, I returned to the US to edit The Macintosh Bible in English, and began to write my own books: HTML for the World Wide Web, that in 7 editions has sold more than a million copies, books on Perl and CGI, Blogger, iPhoto, and most recently, EPUB Straight to the Point, which explains how to create ebooks in the standard EPUB format.
In 2009, after the first straw poll for independence in Arenys de Munt, and frustrated with the dearth of news about Catalonia in the English-language press, I began a blog called News Catalonia (http://www.newscatalonia.com). I also began to use Twitter (@Lizcastro) to occasionally spread news about events in Catalonia.
In 2011, I began to use what I knew about ebook production to create two books about Catalonia in English: Barcelona, Catalonia: A view from the inside, by Matthew Tree, and “What Catalans Want: Could Catalonia be Europe’s next new State?” by Toni Strubell with photographs by Lluís Brunet.
Things have accelerated so much in Catalonia—between the massive demonstration of 1.5 million people in favor of independence in September, to the snap elections in November, and the Declaration of Sovereignty in January—that I decided to publish a new book of brand new essays by leading Catalan political leaders, academics, economists, writers, and linguists. This new book is called “What’s up with Catalonia?” and was published February 25, 2013.
Please ask me any questions you like. I’ve done a fair bit of traveling in Catalonia, and am well versed in the local culture: from calçots (tender onions eaten grilled with Romesco sauce) to diables (fireworks daredevils) to castells (human tower builders) to modernist architecture (not just Gaudí) to beaches (fine sand vs grainy), and more.
You can find me on Twitter at @lizcastro. My main computer book blog is Pigs, Gourds, and Wikis (http://www.pigsgourdsandwikis.com), my website for my books is ElizabethCastro.com, my NewsCatalonia.com blog talks about current events in Catalonia, and I have a Catalan language blog at http://blocs.mesvilaweb.cat/lizcastro, and I post pictures to Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cookwood). I also have published a few videos about both Catalonia and ebook production on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/LizCastro).