It was in the early 90’s that I wrote my version of the Aztec legend of Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, the two volcanoes found in central Mexico. I did it to share part of my culture with my children. It was a story I grew up with. My version was a short story. I found that each version was a little different so I felt comfortable telling my own as I learned it over the years. The main format was that of a tragedy a la Romeo and Juliet but in an Aztec version.
While tinkering with the first version of the story I procrastinated getting it done until one day. My husband invited me to a tasty taco joint in Stafford, Texas and lo and behold, pinned to the wall was an illustration of a glorious Aztec warrior with a beautiful sleeping maiden in his arms. The caption had the legend written in about 8 lines. I took that as a sign that I should finish my story.
In 1999, I decided to turn the story into a novel and work on the manuscript began. I finished it in 2002 and sent it out to a few publishing houses that I thought might be interested in the subject matter but I began to collect rejection letters. It was not something they were looking for at the time.
Time went on and every time Popocatepetl, a semi-dormant volcano, spewed steam and ash I took it as a sign that I needed to do something with the book. I began to have a strong feeling that I needed to share the book with more kids, not just my own. I felt that by sharing this story built on the background of research I conducted about the Aztec culture to believably place my story in a space and time, I could help Hispanic and Latino kids better understand where they came from and be proud of their rich culture.
So my mission became to use the book as a tool to generate curiosity about a native American culture we don’t read about in school. We may learn about the pyramids in Egypt but we don’t learn about what was one of the strongest cultures in the Americas.
My kids are grown now. I published The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant with my own illustrations and use it to help me share with Hispanics and non-Hispanics about the love I have for my culture and the things we have learned from the Aztecs. And maybe, the book can be a spark to generate curiosity to learn more about the Aztec contribution to the world through urbanism, agriculture, engineering, astronomy, calendars, culinary richness and so much more.
More about The Lady of the Turquoise Pendant: