This month E-volt – where you can get books for $2.99 or less – is offering The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind on sale for $1.99.
You might not remember the novel – quiet as it was – but it’s the book that has made the biggest impact on me as an author.
The synopsis is here, but I describe the novel as a mix of magical realism and telenovela mostly because it’s one of those sweeping stories with large casts and a few spirits. It’s about secrets, traitors, and love stricken heroes, all hopefully drawn with some depth.
But at its core, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind is actually realistic fiction, too. That’s because it’s a tale of migration and why young people take unimaginable risks to move toward better circumstances. It names that terrible brew of longing and violence the powerless often see in this life.
I’ve heard said that each novel you write teaches you how to be a better writer. If that’s true, this one was a strict SOB of a teacher. I rewrote The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind more times than I care to count, trying to preserve a stylized storytelling while getting at a contemporary issue with honesty. What a struggle! I reworked the manuscript top to bottom, axing plot lines and characters. Several times I thought I would abandon the project altogether. I couldn’t find my way somehow. I couldn’t settle on what I really wanted to say about Sonia and the people in her world. It’s bigger than I am. I don’t know what I’m doing. Who am I to tell this story? Why am I even doing this? The dialogue in my head was paralyzing, and it led to countless missteps. In fact, Kate Fletcher, my editor at Candlewick, worked with me for close to a year before she felt it was strong enough to even make a contract offer on it. Day after day, this novel left me feeling like a failure.
Today, I’m grateful for the nearly crushing experience. I did find my way, and the novel went on to be a finalist for the Latino Book Awards. True, it has never enjoyed the splash of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass or, even, Tia Isa Wants a Car. Maybe it’s not as good; I don’t honestly know. Readers will have to judge that for themselves. But I do know that the book changed me profoundly.
First of all, it taught me (painfully) that writing books is a messy and gut-wrenching process. I learned to value perseverance in the face of repeated failure.
But more important, the novel forced me to ask myself hard questions about why I was writing and why it mattered. It forced me to zero in harsh realities of the characters’ lives and, ultimately, to find a purpose for myself as an author that was larger than just creating an enjoyable read. Turns out, that purpose is to make the stories emerging from the Latino experience part of respected literature for all kids.
Has the book made a difference to anyone but me? I’m not sure. But here’s what I do know. I began drafting this book in 2010 or so, and it was published in 2012. All these years later, not much has changed except that the debate surrounding immigrants has grown uglier. Maybe now is a good time to discover the story if you haven’t already.
Buy the e-book here: (Note: Offer expires Jan 31, 2016)
Five Secret Things About The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind
My favorite characters: Pancho because he’s so chivalrous, and Dahlia because she has to be heartless to be good.
Worst challenge: Deciding whether Rafael should live or die. I rewrote his fate multiple times.
What it looks like in other countries:
Biggest edit: keeping the whole novel in Tres Montes and the capital, instead of having the second half happen in North America
Best thing that happened as a result of the book:
I zeroed in on a purpose. That, and The Hope Tree Project.