Mario X. Martinez
Author of Converso
Mario Martinez was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico and attended schools in Santa Fe and Pecos, New Mexico. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Northern Colorado in 1974. Mario taught high school mathematics and coached boys’ basketball for four years before attending the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1978. After working for the Johns-Manville Corporations and residing briefly in the Denver, Colorado area, Mario moved to Albuquerque in 1983 to raise his two children, Firmino and RoseAna, from his first marriage.
Since then, he has spent over fifteen years teaching high school mathematics and coaching basketball with the Albuquerque Public Schools and surrounding school districts. A week-long seminar on screenwriting conducted by Frank Zuñiga in 1997, combined with his research into the Sephardim (the Jews of Spain), inspired Mario to complete his first screenplay, Converso, in 1999. Three other full-length and one short-length screenplays would be written in the following seven years. Mario recently adapted Converso into a novel which was published and released by Gaon Books of Santa Fe in May, 2009.
Set in Northern New Mexico in the late 1870’s, Converso is a testament to the oral histories and recollections shared by his deceased grandmothers, Anna Maria (Lucero) Valencia and Emilia (Mares) Martinez, his parents, Jacob and Ana Maria Martinez, and assorted relatives.
Mario currently resides in Rio Rancho with his wife, Alice, and two sons, Santiago and Elijah. He is a former teacher at Rio Rancho High School. He has travelled to Spain during the summer of 2007 and 2008 and spent a total of 23 days in Spain in 2008 while serving as an English-speaking volunteer with the Pueblo Ingles and Vaughan Town programs. For 13 days, Mario helped Spanish business professionals improve their English-speaking abilities and made new friends from all over the world in the process. He presented two workshops during the 2009 New Mexico State Student Council Convention (hosted by Rio Rancho High School) encouraging student leaders to seek international volunteer opportunities.
Education and high school athletics have been Mario’s main means of communal involvement within the Chicana/Chicano community. Most of his career has been spent teaching or coaching at high schools with significant Hispanic enrollments. His assigned duties as a math or special education teacher often involved “at-risk” students from the local Hispanic and Native American communities (Albuquerque, Moriarty, Pecos, Jemez, and Rio Rancho). Mario has also served as a volunteer coach with the Albuquerque Boys’ Club and Bernalillo County Youth Basketball programs. For the past four years, Mario has served as a middle and high school volleyball official in addition to his teaching duties.
Mario’s previous published works have been limited to two sports-related newspaper articles published in the Santa Fe New Mexican in 1975 and 2004 and a book review of Hitting Into The Wind published in the Elysian Field Quarterly, a national publication dedicated to the sport of baseball.
Honors and Distinctions:
Mario participated on the “Sephardic Memory and Families” Panel along with two other authors during the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies 2009 Conference, Lakewood, Colorado, in August, 2009.
Converso is released as part of the Santa Fe Art Institute’s “Memories Preserved: the Crypto-Jewish Roots of New Mexico” program, a multi-media presentation featuring Sephardic music, visual images, and reading from two novels.
The New Mexico History Museum’s “Sephardic Voices” program held at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe on October 19, 2008, features Marioas one of its five participants - Mario served as the story’s narrator while his brother, Gerard, assisted with Converso’s presentation.
Mario presented “Converso: A Writer’s Journey” at the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies 2002 Conference in San Diego, CA that detailed the evolution of his story from diverse life experiences and literary sources.
The screenplay version of Converso, earned Semi-Finalist honors in the Santa Monica, CA, Film Festival’s Moxie Awards 2000 Screenplay Competition and Quarterfinalist honors in the New Century Writer Awards 2000 Screenplay Competition.
Lorenzo Dominguez interviewed Mario on his “Mi Sefarino” syndicated radio show which received the 2000 Katie Award for Best Public Affairs Reporting by the Press Club of Dallas, TX.
A six-actor reading of Converso was conducted at the now-defunct El Rincon Bookstore in Albuquerque for the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies 2000 Conference in Albuquerque, NM. This is the third reading and final reading held at El Rincon.
Mario’s second screenplay earns a Semi-Finalist (Top 50) honor in the Arizona Film Commission’s “Film in Arizona 2001” Screenwriting Competition and finishes in the top 15% in the prestigious 2001 Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
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