The Thunder Child blog Daily Space is proud to host the virtual book tour of author Kim Baccellia, the author of The Earrings of Ixtumea, a fantasy novel for young adults published in July 2007, featuring a Latina heroine and an adventure into an alternate world where the culture of the Maya still flourishes. And check out her website at: http://www.kim-baccellia.com/
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My questions are in bold.
1. Your book takes place in the parallel world of Ixtumea, which is modeled after the Maya civilization. Can you describe a bit about that civilization. (Where was it located, who were the rulers, how was it run, what roles did women have in the society, etc.) and how you modified it, if you did, to become Ixtumea. What did it feel like to be a "world builder."
I’ve always been fascinated with the ancient Mesoamerican civilization. When I did research I found out that my ancestors had a civilization that was more advanced than the conquistadores that invaded them. I cringe to think of all the history the invaders burned in order to civilize them.
I wanted to base my fantasy world in this country. The Mayans and even Incans are still shrouded in mystery. I found a book from a professor who based his thesis on the idea of the Incan khipu (knots) not being an abacus but instead a code to their history, culture, language. The Incans did this in order for their history to survive. Problem was once the Incans priests died out so did someone who could translate the code. I played around with this idea and use it as part of Lupe’s responsibility in Ixtumea.
I also liked the idea of a woman leader. I often wondered if our world be a lot better if we had a woman in power. Hence the idea of the Revered One and her maidens. I still have wise men but they have to report to the Revered One, who’s the one in power. Malvado is based on a male of our world who is sexist and didn’t like the idea of a woman being in charge.
Ixtumea would be located in lower Mexico/central America.
I did use some of Mexican myths and legends plus I wove throughout my story dichos-sayings that are similar to our proverbs. I modeled Concha after a modern date Malinche. I can’t believe Hollywood hasn’t done a movie on her life yet.
The idea of the Spider Goddess was also based on Mexican mythology plus I admit I added some of my own ideas to her. I also wanted the spiders to be the ‘good’ ones. I was sick of how spiders were always portrayed as being bad.
2. Most young adult books have a "message" or "theme." For Earrings of Ixtumea it's that people should have knowledge of and be proud of their heritage. In your experience teaching Latinos (and others) in the LA county school district, are the youngsters so intent on "fitting in" that they do ignore or are ashamed of their culture?
I based this on experiences related to me from family members of my grandfather who’s mother, my great-grandmother, was Mexican. My grandfather was ashamed of his Mexican roots—most of his family was—to the point they tried changing her name to make it more “Spanish sounding”. They even said she was adopted by a Mexican couple. I later learned from Professor Ortega at Ca State Fullerton about the racism and prejudice against Latinos in California during the 1900’s. I even found out about the court case Mendez vs. Westminster school board, where a Latino couple fought to have their children go to a nearby school and not to the segregated ‘colored’ school. It made me wonder if my own grandfather was segregated during the Second World War based on his color.
Also in my classroom I found it disturbing how my six-year-old girls would color themselves blonde, blue-eyed, and fair skinned. Their idols at the time were Britney Spears and Xuxa from Brazil, a blonde, blue eyed TV star. Also the telenovelas had a lot of the blonde models and actresses.
I’m hoping with JLo, America Ferrera( I love how this actress shows it’s okay to be yourself), and a few others that there will be more Latino role models for youth to look up to.
3. In your initial draft, did you have the book outlined where you knew from beginning to end what you wanted to happen, or did the characters "come to life" and dictate changes to the story?
I used a character chart and listed down my character’s quirks and traits. I also used a classical 3 act structure from Greek dramatic works.
All of my characters came to life to me. Some more than others. Concha’s struggle with betraying her daughter to the man she loved haunted me. The one scene where Lupe finds out why her mother is the way she is refused to leave me. I remember crying when I wrote that scene. I left it in as I felt it was important.
4. The artwork on your site is done by Liz Jones. I'm confused as to whether she did your cover artwork as well. Regardless, how did the cover art come about? Did you say what you wanted - the temple, etc., and have the artist draw it, or did the artist read the book and then choose a dramatic moment to illustrate?
The cover art was done by the talented Michael Leadingham. He based the cover from one of my scenes when Teancum first takes Lupe to Ixtumea. I wanted the cover to show this. Liz Jones did the self portrait with characters from both of my books. I had her put in my own bisabuela looking down on me from the spider web, guiding me in my own search of my heritage.
Thank you, Kim, for answering my questions. The next stop on Kim's virtual blog tour is at www.plugyourbook.blogspot.com/ on August 9, 2007.