Jul. 26, 2014

How Candyman "happened"

In 2007 I began writing a short story, that became a novel, illustrating the cultural changes in Central America. I was intrigued by stories of "Indigenas," (Indians) and have been since childhood.  Near my home is a school with a mural of an Indian with the name "Purí," scrawled in paint above it. The village is called Purires and it is my new home town. 

My research into the Indigenous of Central America kept generating fascinating, sometimes horrifying, stories of Guatemala. If the Dos Erres story does not break your heart it probably isn't breakable. What happened in my first novel ("El Peon," in the rewrite phase), was that an Indigenous character name Candelária Arevelo entered the story as an important and dramatic, secondary character. He is a smart, gutsy kind of guy. I liked him a lot and pretty soon his story emerged from the time I spent thinking about him.
That is how "Candyman's War," the book, began. It wasn't long before I had his entire biography committed to memory. It isn't in the book but his biography informs Candyman's dramatic transitions. His story is set in his home country and is wrapped in the actual events of the time. The action peaks with the actual coup that occurred on August 8, 1983. There are other actual events built into the story. But the setting is informed by the more general malaise of the country. It is fiction, but honest enough to the times and events to call itself "historical"fiction.
Candyman came to me as a secondary character in the novel "El Peon" and I really liked him. In "Candyman's War," he takes refuge in a safe house that is run by a Ladino doctor and his Mayan mother. I like them a lot also. They have become the central characters of "Chapin!" or "Don Fernando's Family," (haven't decided on a title), my next novel due out this Fall. Candyman and his two antagonists make guest appearances in "Chapin!" as well. The new story has an epic sweep and a strong plot.