Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Q & A with Belinda Vasquez Garcia

Title:  The Witch Narratives Reincarnation

Series:  Land of Enchantment Trilogy #1

Author:  Belinda Vasquez Garcia

Genre:  Paranormal Urban Fantasy

Page Count:  368

Read It & Reap Date:  August 15, 2013

Book Description:  A novel about the unlikely devotion of a devout Catholic, and a reluctant witch. A book about loyalty, friendship and the depth of love.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but humanity will never break me,” –so claims the witch, Salia, but she was born with a soft, all too human heart that even being an outcast won't harden. Salia is a sister, granddaughter and daughter of witches. And she is a half-breed.

There is a portrait in the house at the bottom of Witch Hill. Salia looks out of the picture with haunted eyes. She is pale because her mother pinches her arm, but it is Salia's grandmother who dominates the picture. She is 110 years old but appears to be a teenager, holding out in her hand an ordinary-looking rock, a piedra imán, a rare shape-shifting stone, allowing her to bathe like in the fountain of youth, to be immortal while others around her age.

The Land of Enchantment shines with the little-known world of Southwestern witchcraft, which gives this historical series a compelling twist and a refreshing breath of originality. This first book in the series begins in the Roaring 20s, when illegal liquor flowed like oil and women’s hemlines were shortened.

Title:  Ghosts of the Black Rose

Series:  Land of Enchantment Trilogy #2

Author:  Belinda Vasquez Garcia

Genre:  Paranormal Urban Fantasy

Page Count:  303

Read It & Reap Date:  July 21, 2013

Book Description: The story continues in GHOSTS OF THE BLACK ROSE(Land of Enchantment Trilogy BOOK 2), a novel glowing with rich Southwestern mythology and the locations of historic Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

Strange things are going on in Madrid--the opera house theater is said to be haunted, and someone spies from the abandoned house at the bottom of Witch Hill. Then there is the mysterious stranger, U. S. Marshal Quill, asking questions about what happened to Samuel Stuwart. His obsession with Samuel's widow, the witch Salia, is unhealthy.

Marcelina misses her friend, Salia, and wonders if there's a way to "bring her back". Marcelina has become a beautician with the magical power of reverse beauty at her fingertips. Even while Marcelina befriends Pacheco's "wife", Agnes, she is still scared of his fanatical religious group--the Penitentes are a constant threat to modern women. Marcelina fears what Pacheco will do to her, if he ever finds out about her budding magic. She is simply practicing magic and conducting seances, trying to survive the Great Depression.

As is the shaman, Storm-Chaser, who faces a new threat at the pueblo--Salia's half-brother, Jefe, and his band of renegade witches who lust for more power. If only Jefe can find Salia's piedra imán, the same shape-shifting stone Marcelina is looking for--a rock that can make her beautiful, thin and immortal.

About the Author:  I ran across a photograph of a young Indian girl standing between her mother and aunt. All three were witches, and I was intrigued by the haunted eyes of the young witch. I thought about a girl being forced to follow in her mother's magical footsteps and join the family business, so to speak. I thought, what if a girl who doesn’t want to be a witch is really sweet and practices witchcraft only when she has to, versus a girl raised to be a Catholic and seduced by witchcraft because she wants too much. This was my inspiration for The Witch Narratives Reincarnation(Land of Enchantment Trilogy Book 1) and Ghosts of the Black Rose(Land of Enchantment Trilogy Book 2).

I have a strong Native American influence from my youth. During my research, I stumbled upon the story of the Pecos skeletons being taken to Harvard in 1915 and was so moved, that I wrote
Return of the Bones.

Q & A with Belinda Vasquez Garcia 

Q:  Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
A:  The Witch Narratives Reincarnation is about the friendship of two girls from very different worlds and their lives, and where it leads them. In the first book, third-generation witch, Salia, and devout Catholic, Marcelina, start out as troubled eleven year-old girls and grow to women in their 20’s.

Salia is a fragile half-breed with haunted eyes and dirty face. She doesn’t want to be a witch and join the coven of her abusive mother and grandmother. She is surrounded by toxic family ties and ostracized by the villagers. Salia dislikes herself and feels like a freak. She’s searching for love and acceptance, and is very insecure. Salia often uses her grandmother’s shape-shifting stone to become a coyote and run with her pack. Coyotes are her only friends, until her family makes her befriend Marcelina, a girl they have their eye on.

Marcelina tries so hard to be a good Catholic, but she has a dark side. Marcelina, also, has a good side and is the only “human” willing to befriend Salia when they’re children. As she grows to womanhood, Marcelina is torn between her religious upbringing and the allure of witchcraft. Marcelina hates the fact that she’s overweight and homely, and not beautiful and slender like Salia. Marcelina starts out as a traditional 1920’s and 1930’s female. All she wants is to get married and be a mother. By the second book, she has become a woman ahead of her time. She has her own business, a kitchen beauty shop. She is an astute businesswoman and later adds séances to her growing businesses. Marcelina has a jealous nature.

Q:  What kind of research did you have to do for your book?
A:  In a book on Southwest witchcraft, I came across a photograph of a Native American girl standing between her mother and aunt. All three were witches, and I was intrigued by the haunted eyes of the young witch. I thought about a girl being forced to follow in her mother's magical footsteps and join the family business, so to speak… which is one of the themes in my series.

I read another book on Southwestern witchcraft that had stories from eye witnesses, some given during witch trials in Santa Fe. The Spanish Inquisition set up shop in Santa Fe in 1626 and was hunting witches as late as the mid-1800s. There are court records in Santa Fe about witchcraft.

When I lived in Austin, Texas, a friend of mine was a Wiccan. A couple of years ago, one of my best friends came out of the broom closet and confessed she was a witch, after she found out I was writing my series. She’s given me some information on witchcraft and invited me to a tarot card reading class for research. She’s, also, invited me on Halloween at midnight to attend their ceremony where they read the names of all the witches who have died, which takes a long time. I have a couple of other friends who are witches. I have no desire to become a witch. I just have fun writing books about magic.

For the witches in my books, it’s not a religion for them, like Wicca. The women use magic mainly to make a living.

Q:  How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
A:  I grew up on stories about La Llorona.

Growing up, there were a lot of homes with the door frames and window frames painted blue, the color of the Virgin Mary’s robe. During my research, I discovered that the openings of homes are painted this color to keep out the local witches. Some hide crosses under their doormats so a witch can’t walk through the doorway.

My grandparents once attended an outdoor dance on a ranch when they were young. Some witches showed up, angry they were not invited to the party. My grandparents witnessed the witches rise in the air to a small canyon. The witches then spit and cussed at the partygoers.

My grandmother used to cut my brother’s hair and then burn the cuttings so no witches would get his hair and harm him using image magic.

I heard other true stories of witches in Tucumcari where my grandparents lived.

When my brother was twelve, his best friend claimed he saw his grandmother flash into a fireball.

I also have a strong Native American influence. Some Native Americans attended my elementary and junior high schools. An old Native American used to work for my aunt at the end of our street. He would visit my dad and they’d sit around smoking and drinking. My character, the shaman Storm-Chaser, is based on this ancient Native American.

Q:  Do you have any personal experiences or knowledge of witches?
A:  As a child, my cousin and I used to spy on an old lady who we believed was a witch. She’d come out of her house and we’d run screaming.

I swear when I was 13, one evening at midnight, I heard La Llorona crying from the ditch behind our house. We were on an acre so the ditch was about ¼ acre away. It was a bone-chilling cry and I was terrified to get out of bed and look out the window. The crying went on and on. The sound was so scary that for two months I couldn’t be by myself, even during the day.

New Mexico is a hotbed for witches. There is a town named Wagon Mound that I’ve heard is infested with witches. The newspaper mentioned one year that Albuquerque was the site for the annual witches' convention. A few years ago, there was an article in the paper about a witch being killed by some other witches. I found out that there are a lot of witches at the company where I used to work as a Software Engineer. It was a big engineering company though, with around 13,000 employees.

Q:  The magic in your book is Southwestern magic. How is that unique?
A:  Some witches flash into fireballs and soar across the sky, appearing like shooting stars. Down through the centuries these illuminations have been called witch lights. In my series, The Land of Enchantment, a few of the witches travel in this fashion.

If a Southwestern witch is lucky, he or she might own a rare, shape-shifting stone called a piedra imán, which means “magnetic stone.” The magic rock has been known to exist since Roman times. In my trilogy, the piedra imán is like a bone between the characters. The 130 year-old La India, Salia’s grandmother, uses the rock to shapeshift into an 18 year-old and thereby, achieves immortality. Felicita, Salia’s mother, lusts after the stone to become more powerful. Marcelina would shapeshift into a beautiful woman who can remain thin, no matter how much she eats. Salia wants the stone so she can become an opera singer. She’s not after fame. Salia wishes to be someone else. Salia’s half-brother, Jefe, also wants their grandmother’s piedra imán to gain more power.

Southwestern witches can, also, turn into werebeasts by using magic powders and spells.

They can gain night vision by borrowing the eyes of a cat. A witness recorded that he went to a witch’s home and her cat was walking around without any eyes.

There’s a magic, invisible bone cats have that can give a witch the characteristics of a cat.

There’s also Native American witchcraft in my books and a shaman.

The dead witch, La Llorona, head of the Sisterhood of the Black Rose covens in my series is a legendary, centuries-old witch known as the “Weeping Ghost” or “Weeping Woman”. She is known throughout the Americas by tens of millions. There are different versions of her story. Some consider her a witch, which is the version I choose to believe. Many witnesses have seen her ghost haunting ditches, rivers, canals, oceans, and lakes, searching for her drowned children.

In my books, La Llorona is convinced of her innocence and considers herself misunderstood and slandered. She can be summoned from her grave by a witch from one of her 13 covens of the Sisterhood of the Black Rose.

Q:  What do you do to unwind and relax?
A:  I’m a Zumbaholic. I spend days and nights sitting at my computer writing, so Zumba really helps to move my entire body, and I love the Latin Music. I, also, take a belly dancing class, which is great fun because we all dress up so it’s like Halloween once a week. To unwind at night, I watch a movie, or catch up on the Bates Motel series, or Game of Thrones. I love South Park for a good laugh. I’m waiting for The Adventures of Merlin Season 5 and the current Once Upon a Time to go to Netflix Streaming.

Q:  If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A:  The Greek Islands looked so beautiful in Mama Mia. I would like to take a Mediterranean Cruise and go island hopping. To be able to see the Greek ruins would be awesome. I’m especially fond of Greek and Roman Mythology.

Q:  What book are you reading now?
A:  I’m reading City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I can hardly wait for the movie.

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