Orlando Ortega-Medina is a London-based US immigration lawyer. Born in the United States to Cuban parents, who themselves were children of immigrants, his family history is one of geographical dislocation extending back several generations.
Ortega-Medina himself is an immigrant, having been forced from the United States in 1999 due to an immigration system that denied him the right to marry his same-sex partner, a foreign national who had fled his war-torn country and sought refuge in the United States. Prior to graduating law school, Ortega-Medina earned a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from UCLA. Ortega-Medina writes fiction inspired by his struggles with his cultural and religious identity and about intergenerational immigration.
You are an author, but is it your day job? I’m a lawyer by profession and the senior associate of Ortega-Medina & Associates, a US corporate immigration law firm based in London, England.
Did you always want to be an author? Yes, ever since I can remember.
What is your most recent book and what inspired you to write it? My most recent book is The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants, a family drama that plays out within a legal thriller. It’s inspired by my own legal practice in San Francisco in the late 1990s.
How do you hope your book uplifts those who read it? There’s familial reconciliation following a decade of estrangement between the main character Marc Mendes and his parents. This is the most uplifting aspect of the novel. There’s also a high impact ending that’s getting a lot of attention.
What are you most excited about with this book? I love the many opportunities coming my way to discuss the novel’s backstory, including the chain of events that forced my Salvadoran partner and me to leave the United States.
How did writing a book help your career take off? The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants is my fourth published book. My profile as an expert in US immigration law has progressively increased with the release of each of these book, which has helped add to my firm’s client base.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to succeed in your professional industry? Find a niche practice that excites you and specialize in it. Teach yourself; don’t wait to be taught.
How do you handle setbacks and criticism? Not very well. Falling down hurts; being knocked down by someone else feels even worse. But I just get back up, brush myself off, and get on with it. Better that than giving up, I think.
Being an author today is like running a business. How do you manage all your publicity, social media and keep your engagement up with readers? I divide all of that up between myself, my partner, and my publisher.
How do you hold yourself accountable and achieve the goals that you set forth? I keep a “TO DO” list that I share with my partner and we tick off each task and/or goal that I complete.
How do you structure your day and make time for writing? I wake up at 6 a.m. and write until 8.m. which equates to an average of 1000 words a day. Then I get ready for work.
What do you find most fulfilling in the career that you’ve chosen? The respect I get as a lawyer.
What book uplifts you? The Garden of Emunah: A Practical Guide to Life by Rabbi Shalom Arus
Learn more about Orlando and connect with him via his website.
Images Courtesy of Smith Publicity, Inc.