Feb. 16, 2014

Who is Candyman?

My stories are as much about my characters as plots. Candelaria originally appeared as a minor character in a book [El Peón], rooted in Costa Rican culture of about the same period. I couldn’t get him out of my mind and as I finished that book I began to think about what happened to him. Why did I put him in that first book anyway?

Candyman is an enigma from page one. Indigenous (Que'chi), Ph.D. candidate in botany and evangelical Christian, he comes to us as an unlikely sort. Why did he not choose to leave Guatemala and finish his dissertation somewhere else? Candyman is a legal resident of the U.S. and traveling on a U.S. Passport. How does his religion shape his choices? Does his "religion" survive the story? Candyman's War answers those questions.

Luckily the story fell neatly into a three-act structure with plenty of rising action. But the story is about him, his two transitions into the person he finally became.  Those were driven by the conditions he found but were equally mandated by Candelaria Arevalo—the person. He finishes as a very different man from the bright young guy who began his journey. 

Candyman’s war is political in the sense that it portrays a vicious period Guatemala’s history. It is hard on the government.  Later American presidents have apologized for the U.S. role in supporting the government’s behavior. As Guito says in the final chapter, as an anti-war statement, “Candyman’s life speaks for itself.”