Monday, May 05, 2008

Between the Pages with Jamie Martinez Wood

I've had the privelege of watching my friend, Jamie Martinez Wood's new book, Rogelia's House of Magic come to be. When we first met, she was in revision hell. But then I got to sneak a peek at the copy-edited manuscript and then was one of the first to see the cover. This summer, readers will go on a journey with Fern, Marina and Xochitl, who discover their powers through Rogelia, a housekeeper and curandera.

Chica Lit: Tell us about the first moment you came up with the idea for Rogelia's House of Magic.

Jamie: The project came to me and I was so excited that I immediately got into a car accident. Claudia Gabel, an editor at Delacorte Press, decided she wanted to see a book about Latina teens and magic so she began casting around for a suitable writer for the project. Marcela Landres knew that I had written four nonfiction books on magic (two for teens: The Teen Spell Book and The Enchanted Diary) and two books of Hispanic culture (Hispanic Baby Name Book and Latino Writers & Journalists) and recommended me. So I took the bus everywhere - like a teenager seeking independence (the car was in the shop for a month), and by putting myself in their shoes, I was able to create their individual stories. The girls of course needed a mentor, who became Rogelia, named after the nanny who took care of my baby sister when I was a teen.

Chica Lit: You've written several nonfiction titles but how different was it to write a novel?

Jamie: In a non-fiction book, the writing is linear and straight-forward. In a fiction book, writing moves in circles that weave back and forth. I love writing dialog (I can finally put those voices in my head to work!) Non-fiction is telling people exactly what you want them to know. Fiction or storytelling requires symbols and relationships to convey your message. I love creating a world that runs like a movie through your imagination.

Chica Lit: How much of yourself is in these three young women?

Jamie: I am these three girls rolled into one. I am an impetuous Wild Child like Fern, more often barefooted hugging some tree, and like Marina I tend to worry, had a trying relationship with my mother, and we share family history. In my quiet moments, I tend to mimic Xochitl's autonomy, determination and solemnity about what's important to me.

Chica Lit: You have a really interesting family history and deep roots in California. Would you share?

Jamie: My family history dates back to the Spanish soldiers and Mexican civilians that came with Father Junipero Serra in 1770s. Jose Antonio Yorba and Juan Pablo Peralta (mentioned in Rogelia's House of Magic) were granted the first land grant, 72,000 acres, from the King of Spain in what is now Orange County. I also have reason to believe (by virtue of some pictures) that I have Native California heritage as well, perhaps Tongva or Ajachemen (aka, Gabrieleño or Juaneño). I became aware of this heritage when I was nine and it seems to me that is when I began feeling the spirit of my ancestors all around me.

Chica Lit: When did you tap into your spirituality? Do you hope that the book will encourage readers to find their spiritual calling?

Jamie: I was one of those kids tapped into their spirituality from a young age, probably seven or so. I was raised Christian Scientist, a mystical Christianity, (not the Tom Cruise one – but the one where people would say "oh, you're the ones who don't believe in doctors"). This upbringing taught me that Sacred Source is male/female, loves me dearly, and that all things and ideas – metaphysical, physical, or emotional are available to me whenever I ask for them with "faith as a grain of mustard seed… nothing shall be impossible." Combine this belief with a tarot-reading nana, a Catholic mama who loves ritual and symbology, a nana whom I only knew from the spirit world (my mom's mom died a month before I was born, but stayed around to be my guardian angel) and a bent toward nature, you get earth spirituality with a healthy dose of magic.

My hope for my readers is more that they find their gift or talent and begin sharing that with the world. I personally believe a spiritual calling helps us discover our unique specialness because by believing in a loving, positive source energy greater than ourselves, we begin to believe that something really wonderful lives within us. And when we are connected to this source and everything and everyone, we intrinsically know that sharing joy with others expands the joy within.

Enter to win a signed copy of Jamie's upcoming novel, Rogelia's House of Magic. Go here.

1 comment:

Zulmara said...

kudos--to both of you...the book sounds lovely and I can't wait to read it...

Felicitaciones...a ustedes...