Many of you know I teach literature, and I revel in the many ways students can interpret the same text. But, how many of you are surprised and shocked at how readers react to your own work?
I was talking to someone yesterday, someone I respect, who has read all of my books. (Yay, You!) This individual asked, "Can I be honest with you?" I was like, "Of course!" (Though I was internally bracing myself for the worst.) The reader said, "I really liked La Bruja. . . ." La Bruja in the Orchard. I gathered that person didn't like my other work, which is fine. Yep, that cuts deep. But. Is. (Grunt.) Fine. This individual is not the first person who has said this grand revelation. I guess zombie and werewolf stories don't appeal to everyone. You fucking bastards. I just hope this person likes the sequel that is tearing a hole in my brain, but is damned good writing.
Ah, damn, I have more to say, but my daughter just woke up.
So, I'm back. As you may know, part of this week, I gave myself a different writing assignment or goal. My family and I will be on the road for three or four days, to the west coast, and I have a goal to collect one good story every day, from each state. That means I will have to talk to strangers, eavesdrop, and read local newspapers. After all, most folks are on their phones these days, but I also believe many travelers are bored and want to talk to people.
On the writing front, this morning I worked on "La Bruja del Barrio Loco." The writing is coming along seamlessly, and it is now 113 pages long and will be just a smidge longer. My editor is reading the fourth revision. The cover designer is reading the story, and I'm sure is going to wow me with a proof. My good friend is processing the best head shot and Photoshopping at least 20 pounds off (please, please). Oh, and I also found a larger community of writers on Facebook that are really helpful: Writers Helping Writers. I waited a while to join, and am glad I finally did. Because of them, I drafted the book description numerous times:
Thirty-year-old Elisa Sandoval wants nothing more than to get her graduate degree in Women’s Studies and hopefully, marry her boyfriend Greg. But, when she encounters a real witch in a Mexican herbal shop, and she slights the old woman over a seemingly trivial matter, Elisa’s life becomes an unimaginable hell.
Stalked ruthlessly for weeks, Elisa comes face to face with magic and chaos straight out of the cuentos, fairy tales her mother told her as a child. The nightmare continues as Elisa is incarcerated for a murder she did not commit.
Yet not all is lost, as she finds allies along the way who have battled the witch and will make any necessary sacrifice. But will Elisa be willing to fight? Will she sacrifice everything she loves, even her life, to protect herself and those she loves?
I hope you all are gathering stories and being surprised by your readers.
Be open to new perspectives and ideas and write them down. Even if they hurt, some. #Resist
Dr. Jesú Estrada,