Mary Louise Sanchez is the author of The Wind Called My Name, a new historical novel for kids that takes place in the 1930s. A retired teacher and librarian, she grew up in Rawlins, Wyoming, near where the novel is set, and now lives in Thornton, Colorado.
Q: You note that you based The Wind Called My Name on your own family history. What did you see as the right blend between the historical and the fictional as you wrote the book?
A: I knew I wanted to place my characters ( family members) in the historical setting they lived in, so I tried to be accurate about those times and family, and then I wrote what I thought would make an interesting story using facts when I could and making up story elements when I needed to.
Q: How was the novel's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?
A: The story evolved from Just Plain Maggie to Margarita's Gift to The Wind Called My Name. The final title suggests that the winds of the Great Depression push the family away from their New Mexican home, and then Wyoming winds (people) push at the family, but Margarita stands strong because she gets validated for who she really is.
Q: What do your family members think of the book?
A: My book debuted [recently], so many of my family are just now receiving their books. Family members who have read the book told me how much they've learned about ancestors, and that parts of the story are laugh-aloud funny because they understand the subtext that other Hispanics would understand.
Q: Which authors do you particularly admire?
A: I love all of Tomie DePaola's books, particularly the ones which center on his family. Barbara O'Connor is a favorite author and I'm always discovering new middle grade authors whose works astound me.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I have a picture book about a boy whose ancestor was a famous New Mexican santero which is almost ready for submission. I also have a finished middle grade rough draft set in Wyoming during World War II. This one will take some big revisions, but hopefully it won't take as long as The Wind Called My Name.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: The diversity movement in children's books has made a big difference to me and publication of my novel. Now I want to do all I can to help the next generation of diverse authors.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb