As part of the Novels In Verse Reading Challenge I’m going to be doing an author interview each month with an author in this genre. This month’s interview is with Guadalupe Garcia McCall, author of YA novel Under the Mesquite.
Although, this is Guadalupe’s debut novel, she has had a number of smaller works published over the years. If you want to learn more about Guadalupe and her work you can visit her at: www.guadalupegarciamccall.com
As the oldest of eight siblings, Lupita is used to taking the lead—and staying busy behind the scenes to help keep everyone together. But when she discovers Mami has been diagnosed with cancer, Lupita is terrified by the possibility of losing her mother, the anchor of her close-knit Mexican American family. Suddenly Lupita must face a whole new set of challenges, with new roles to play, and no one is handing her the script. Click here to add this to your Goodreads shelf.
Now, on to the interview! =)
Born Bookish: Under the Mesquite is your first novel, how does it feel when you see it on store shelves?
I have to admit, I am ecstatic every time I see Mesquite on shelves, in someone’s reading bag, or in a friend’s hands. It’s just indescribable how happy I am to see this dream come to fruition. I get such a warm fuzzy feeling when I see it at stores. I take out my phone and take pictures of my little book sitting prettily on those shelves. Here’s a recent one from my local B&N.
Born Bookish: This book was based on your real life experience, did that make it harder to write or easier?
I think because so much of it came from my own experiences it was both. While I was able to draw easily from my own experiences how I felt, what I went through, what I thought, it was also very difficult to relive that heartbreaking time in my life. But it was truly a story I needed to tell.
Born Bookish: What made you want to tell your story in verse, opposed to traditionally?
The book was born from a collection of poems, so it wasn’t so much a conscious decision to use that format to write a novel in verse. It just evolved in that format, but it feels very organic and natural to tell that story that way.
Born Bookish: As I mentioned above, this book was based on your experience growing up, why is it classified as fiction and not a memoir?
Early on in the process my editor, Emily Hazel, and I made the decision that the story needed to be fictionalized. There were many reasons for the decision, but mainly it provided me the opportunity to be more creative in the process.
Born Bookish: What is your favorite novel in-verse?
OUT OF THE DUST is absolutely my favorite novel-in-verse, but HEARTBEAT by Sharon Creech is not far behind.
Born Bookish: Did you read many books in-verse to prepare yourself to write one of your own?
I actually didn’t read many novels-in-verse in preparation for writing Mesquite. I had read a lot of poetry, Gary Soto and many other Hispanic writers. I had also read OUT OF THE DUST in my classroom, and I knew I loved it, so that was helpful.
Born Bookish: A lot of people are hesitant to try reading this format, why do you think that is?
I think a lot of people are afraid of poetry, mainly because some can be hard to understand and we’ve all had to try to figure out the meaning of some pretty challenging poetry in English class when we were young, and were totally lost. But free verse poetry can be very accessible and shouldn’t be feared.
Born Bookish: If you could take any classic novel and re-write it in verse, which would you choose?
I don’t think I’d re-write, but I would love to do a re-telling of several Greek Myths in verse form as a collection perhaps, just to put a new spin on them.
Born Bookish: Do you have any other books in the works that you can tell us a little bit about?
Yes, my second book, a YA novel entitled SUMMER OF THE MARIPOSAS is coming out in the fall from TU BOOKS. It is a re-telling of The Odyssey, only the characters are Hispanic and the mythological creatures are all from Mexican folklore. In the story, Odilia and her four sisters get into all kinds of adventures as they take a trip into Mexico to try and return the body of a drowned man to his family in El Sacrificio, Coahuila. On the way they meet all kinds of monsters, which they must defeat to get back across the border. But their biggest challenge is waiting for them when they get home.
Also, I am currently busy finishing up a YA Historical novel-in-verse entitled, JOAQUIN, THE JACK OF HEARTS. It is the story of a shy, introverted boy struggling to find his voice, assert his identity, and win over the girl he loves while enduring the racial tensions, savagery, and turmoil caused by the infamous Plan of San Diego in the Nueces Strip of South Texas during the time of the Mexican Revolution.
Born Bookish: Here at Born Bookish I have a segment called Breathtaking Book Covers where I post the cover image of a book that I think is stunning. Is there a book cover that has ever taken your breath away? If so, what book?
Oh, so many to choose from. In YA, I think the one cover that made me stop, read, and buy was THE GIVER. The old man’s eyes on the cover, his melancholy, made me reach for it, and I loved it. But I would have to say the one book cover in regular fiction that caught my attention as I walked by it in a bookstore was THE RED TENT. I love that book cover. It made me stop in my tracks, read the excerpt & first pages, and buy the book.
PS: The book didn’t disappoint.
Thanks again Guadalupe! =)