Rise of the Borderland is the fictional account of a young man living in the borderland between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, as he struggles to rise above the adversity and struggles that come from growing up in a divided home. The 22-year-old author, Ector Acosta, sat down with us to tell us a little bit about the novel, his own experiences that went into the story, and his mission.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well to start off, I feel that I have been portrayed as a superman in past articles the media has written about me. I’d like to clarify that I am not perfect; I’m far from it. I’m trying my best to set a good example and be a good role model, but I have weaknesses just like everybody else. Recently, I became a writer for The City Magazine in El Paso, Texas. This is exciting because I have a chance to use my writing ability to write about others as opposed to myself, which is what I did in my book. There is a lot of talent rising in El Paso Texas and I’m glad to have the chance to write about them. I also speak out against bullying, which is a big issue in today’s society. I was bullied growing up and it was a harsh experience, but now that I have endured it, I feel that I can use my podium to strengthen others to persevere through it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!
Your book, Rise of the Borderland Man, is a fictional story, but it seems to take a lot of its inspiration from real places/events. What inspired you to write it?
Several things inspired me to write it. Maybe it wasn’t so much that I was inspired, rather that I was outraged with my situation which helped me to look outside myself and see that others are going through similar struggles and being persecuted in ways that are not being addressed by superiors. I felt that I could use my writing ability to stand up for myself and others. Of course, the main issue I fight against is bullying. It happens everywhere. In addition, I was oppressed by peers on social media and I felt that it was wrong for them to use social media to cyberbully me. I even tried to find help, but nothing could be done. It was a great injustice, but literature was a perfect outlet. It got so bad that I started thinking maybe they were right. One friend even told me to kill myself. I prayed and prayed and God helped me see a way out. I stayed off social media for a while and wrote away. In the end, I forgave them all which is the best thing you can do. Once I let go of the hate and began to love my enemies the bigger picture became so clear. I just used my insight to write and help others get through it like I did. I wrote this short passage in my journal recently.
“You don’t want to hear the truth but now that I am an author you have to hear it, everyone does. This is for those who have persecuted me in the past. I have to shove it down your throats or else bullying will never end. I was one of the few who made it to the point of acquiring a platform but out there are millions who suffer and have no voice. Though I admit with muscle & years of wrestling I haven’t been bullied physically since middle school and early high school but I still hear what is said about me and I know the hatred looms in the heart of many. You have made me out to look like a monster when in reality everybody has a dark side. Many continue to endure the struggle. I will be their voice. For years I lived in doubt believing what you said about me was true and maybe I was wrong. You crucified me. You tormented me. Nothing was done to stop it. Now that the pen is in my hand and I have the power you would expect me to crucify you back right? Who in their right mind wouldn’t retaliate if given the chance? Well I didn’t. To prove a point. Even with a larger number of people to reach out to I still don’t do what you did. That is what makes me powerful and you weak. You feel powerful using social media to put someone down but in reality you are weak to the degree that words cannot describe. The truth is always the right answer. I learned a great lesson from the movie Schindler’s List. ‘Power is when we have every justification to hurt someone – and we don’t.’ One of the greatest powers in the world is the ability to forgive. I forgive you.”
Do you have a favorite passage?
Yes, on page 12 I detailed an actual experience despite the book being semi-fictional. I paid homage to the President and all he has done for us on the border. Especially now with the orders he has passed to allow more immigrants into the country. It was so amazing seeing him give that speech, and, like he said, it will all take time, it won’t happen over night so that is what we have to keep in mind with the Dream Act he proposed. He was speaking to the minorities and immigrants as a whole, and these are my people so of course I want to see them grow in the education system. In the passage, I thanked the President for giving us hope.
“My freshman year in college I was able to see the President give a speech on immigration reform at the Chamizal National Memorial. 500 members of the faculty and student body of University of Texas El Paso had the chance to attend this event, and amongst them I stood proudly. It was unbelievable how he got the crowd roaring! In his great speech he proposed to us “The Dream Act.”
I was comforted by Mr. Obama’s words and in support the propositions that would help non-citizens make a way into the education system and contribute to society; now everything he voiced is really happening. This was the key to restoring order in Mexico. Now all of the young ones have great opportunities that will allow them to make a big difference.”
Rise of the Borderland Man deals with issues like immigration, the demolition of El Paso’s City Hall, and the drug violence. Why do you believe these are such important issues?
Well I stand by immigrants as I’ve previously mentioned. Many are bright individuals with good hearts who only want a brighter future. They are our neighbors. They deserve the opportunity to come to the states and receive and education. This can, in turn, enable them to help our country grow. In the end, this will make our load lighter as we are creating strong leaders for tomorrow.
Who are your inspirations?
My father, Joel Acosta, is my greatest inspiration. I felt that the media portrayed him as someone who had forsaken me. We all make mistakes. He has always been there for me. My father has played an active role in the El Paso community since a young age. He was an All-State football player, champion boxer and wrestler, Valedictorian at Bowie High School, and Chief Justice at the University of Texas at El Paso. He raised money with city Parks and Recreation to build the Multi Purpose Center in El Paso. He is the hardest worker I know. One time I had an interview and I had to drive him to work, which was on the other side of town. He can’t lose his job; it’s his lifeline. He knew I was late to my interview so he got out of the truck and started walking to work and told me to get to my interview. This was after he was recovering from two strokes. I could never fill his shoes. He’s a great man. These are only a small number of his great accomplishments.
Are you planning to write another book? Can you tell us anything about that?
Yes, I plan to write many more. I’ve recently started collaborating with famous UFC fighters and singers to help them put their stories into books. A fellow author once told me, “each book has it’s own destiny” so I don’t want to rush it. I want to use art to raise awareness about issues in society. That is what art is all about. Hip-Hop was originally meant for artists to rhyme about issues in society. They changed it up so much. I want to revive the old school style and give a voice to fellow artists who actually care about issues in society like bullying, violence, and injustice. Not money, drugs, and sex, like a lot of the famous artists today talk about. Art is the best weapon against violence.
Can you name a few of your favorite books for us?
Notes From the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
And last, but not least, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers before they read your book?
Whatever struggle you are going through, it will pass. With God all things are possible.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Thank you, Ector. We’re looking forward to reading your next book.