Your Library was honored to host the book launch of author Raquel Vasquez Gilliland’s new novel, “How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe”. The book launch was on Saturday, August 14 at 2 p.m. in the Library’s Jones Meeting Room.
Gilliland talked about the novel and her writing process, as well as signed books. Attendees were entered to win a gift basket that included signed copies of her novels.
Gilliland is a Mexican American novelist, poet, painter, wife, mother, and aspiring micro-farmer. In her work she explores myths and folklore as well as motherhood, plants, and the lineages of all things. You can learn more about Raquel Vasquez Gilliland here.
“How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe” was published on August 10, 2021 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. It is Gilliland’s second young adult book. Her first novel, “Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything”, was published in 2020 to wide acclaim.
We got to talk with Gilliland recently about her background and what inspires her as a writer. Read our conversation below.
JCPL: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Gilliland: The first time I declared I wanted to be a writer and illustrator was in Mrs. Berry’s fourth grade class. Mrs. Berry found my writing to be promising even at the age of nine, and so it was really awesome to be able to Facetime her when my debut came out! She had bought her own copy!
JCPL: What genre(s) do you write, and what draws you to that style?
I write poetry, and in fiction, depending on who you ask, I write contemporary science fiction or magical realism or both. I think I will always write worlds that have some more-than-human element, whether magic or aliens! I think I’m drawn to this because I was raised with what anthropologists call “folk magic”—the rituals of my family that are probably pre-Columbian in origin.
JCPL: Who or what were some of your early literary influences?
Gilliland: When I was in fifth grade, I saved my pennies and bought “Pieces of You”, Jewel’s first album. Inside the insert she had included poems, and it thrilled me. I didn’t know you could do that with words. I immediately started writing my own poetry. Around that time, I read “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros for the first time. I remember specifically writing vignette-like stories like hers immediately, and I even used the book as a comparison when querying my fiction debut!
JCPL: What do you do when you have writer’s block?
Gilliland: I had never experienced writer’s block until this year. I think the combination of COVID, debut stress, injury, and burn-out made it incredibly difficult to stay on a normal creative course. I decided to try to read and write only what I love to see through. I was able to outline a new novel and feel really excited about it, so I think I am making progress!
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