Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts
In his book, The Storytelling Animal, Jonathan Gottschall states that a "Story's role in human life extends far beyond conventional novels or films. Story, and a variety of storylike activities, dominates human life" (8). This quote illustrates how important writing and writers are in our society. This idea resonates with my deeply felt need to create meaningful work, work that will make its way into the fabric of our social structure, work that will improve and elevate life for humanity and the world our children will inherit.
One thing that is always of utmost concern to me as a writer and which I try to address with my work is the need to add to a body of work that is sorely lacking, namely diverse stories, own voices, and multicultural books. According to recent findings published by the Cooperative Children's Book Center there were 3,400 books for children published in the United States last year. Of these, 166 books were about Latinos, and out of those 166 books only 101 were written by a Latino author.
My First Moon is important in that it adds to that very small percentage of books written for and by Latinos in America. In fact, it is even more significant considering that this percentage is even smaller for my specific culture because the American Latino population is widely diverse and books for and by Mexican Americans are significantly fewer. One would say they are minute. To this end, I try to create works that depict the struggles Mexican American women face, specifically as they pertain to life on the US-Mexico border, where old world values are often in conflict with modern and American influences. My First Moon attempts to elucidate the complex issues surrounding common misconceptions and perceptions of female courage, strength, and value. The oppression, neglect, and abuse of women, as well as questions of female identity and self-worth, all of which are social issues directly associated with the culture of life on the border.
The idea for My First Moon came to me after hearing of an incident in my neighborhood of a small child being run over by his young mother. There were numerous rumors and stories swirling around about the logistics of the tragedy. Two of my sons, who were home from college at the time said they'd heard the boy's young aunt, a girl not much older than them, had been taking care of the child. However, she had become distracted and let go of his hand on the porch. The boy had run out into the driveway and been run over by his young mother, a single parent, who was leaving the house to go to work.
The discussions surrounding the incident and my own imagination sparked horrible imagery and nightmarish thoughts. My own personal experiences with my younger sister, two young mothers trying to make it on our own by taking care of each other's children, filled me with questions. How does a young woman forgive herself for being careless and inadvertently causing the death of her nephew? How does one recover from such great loss? And, more importantly, how does one salvage the relationship she has with her sister? Can such a relationship survive the heartbreak that comes with losing a child? These were the questions that I asked myself as I started to work on My First Moon.
As the project progressed, I began to see that I was crafting a Bildungsroman or coming of age story. This came as no surprise, as that is the genre I have been working with for most of my writing career. However, as I continued to work on the piece, what started out as a contemporary young adult (YA) novel evolved. Somehow, on the way to resolution, the story shifted and began to develop paranormal elements until I saw that the piece was more of a gothic novel. For this reason, I would have to say My First Moon is a subtle gothic novel in the vein of works marketed toward older young adult readers set in the borderlands of Texas. It toys with common elements in gothic novels prevalent in classic, literary stories like Jane Eyre and Rebecca while at the same time introducing my exploration of the concept of what some call "South Texas Gothic." This novel draws its gothic undertones from the fascination Mexican Americans have with the paranormal and supernatural elements so prevalent in our stories.
In The Perpetual Orgy, Mario Vargas Llosa states that "Every novelist re-creates the world in his image and likeness, corrects reality at the prompting of his demons; in the fictional reality" (5) and, although he is speaking about Madame Bovary as it pertains to high modernism and the realistic novel, I find the quote to be fitting of all writers attempting all kinds of literary works. One more thing I attempt to do with my own work is to create new spaces where I see gaps in representation of Mexican Americans within specific genres. If finding books in the library by and for Latinos is hard, it is even harder to find books with Latino protagonists in fantasy, speculative fiction, and paranormal books, and even harder still to find something that is specifically set in the borderlands of South Texas.
Received from ProQuest
Guadalupe GarcÃa McCall
García Mccall, Guadalupe, "My First Moon" (2017). Open Access Theses & Dissertations. 457.