"A veces llovia en Chicago," the first fiction work by journalist Gerardo Cardenas, gathers several stories and incidents from the lives of Hispanic immigrants living and working in the Windy City.

Before getting involved in literature, the author worked as a journalist for more than 20 years in news agencies in the United States and Europe, as well as at Chicago newsweekly Exito.

"In journalism you're always restricted to writing about things just as they occur and base your (writing) on the context of the facts," the 48-year-old Cardenas told Efe.
"I always wanted to write fiction stories and be able to publish them, but I think that I lacked discipline and then confidence that what I was writing could be published," he said, confessing that it took him a lot of time and effort to start writing fiction.

"A veces llovia en Chicago," jointly published in April by Vocesueltas of Chicago and Libros Magenta of Mexico City, mixes together characters based on people the author knew with his interest in Mexico's history and his love of detective novels.

"Many of the stories have to do with ... Mexican or Latin American immigrants and talk about the difficulties of being immigrants in a society where another language is spoken and there are other types of experiences," he said.

One of the stories, "Gallito Bravo," is based on a real boxer who after every bout in the ring returned to his night job in a restaurant in the city.

"By accident I covered one of the boxer's fights," said Cardenas. "Immediately after fighting he went to work at the restaurant because it was his turn to work the night shift. It seemed very interesting to me and I based my story on that character."

Another story, "Nuestra Señora del Puente," was inspired by a true incident that occurred in the northern part of the city several years ago when an alleged image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, appeared in the condensation on the side of a bridge.

"I grabbed the idea of this incident but I transferred it to another neighborhood and gave it another context," he explained.

Yet another story entitled "Este no es un juego, zurdito," in which groups of Polish and Mexican immigrants organize a soccer team, came about from his experience working at Exito, when each evening groups of those immigrants came to the building to do the cleaning.

After living in Chicago for 13 years, where he ultimately was hired by another news agency, the author's experience at times resembles those of his characters.

"I believe that a person never stops being an immigrant no matter how much time you live in a place," Cardenas said, adding that he is grateful to live in a city as full of stories as Chicago.

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