Meg Medina began telling stories at a young age. Now she’s won awards and devoted audiences for those stories.
The Cuban-American writer released her new young adult novel, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind, (Candlewick Press) earlier this week.
This follows 2008’s Milagros: Girl from Away and 2011’s Aunt Isa Wants a New Car. Aunt Isa, which is also available in Spanish, earned Medina the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Award, given to a new author and new artist of picture books for children nine and younger, as well as a spot on the 2012 Amelia Bloomer List for feminist literature for readers from birth to age 18.
Medina, who grew up in Queens, New York, and lives in Richmond, Virginia, talked to The Hispanic Reader as part of her blog tour for The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind. Click to watch the trailer and learn more about the book.
Q: Tell me about your book The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind. What inspired the story?
The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind is my first young adult novel. It is the story of 17-year-old Sonia Ocampo who, due to the strange circumstances of her birth, is mistakenly believed to be an angel sent to her mining village. With each passing year, her neighbors have pinned all their hopes and dreams on her shoulders (literally), a burden she can no longer bear. With the help of her clever aunt, Tia Neli, Sonia secures a job as a domestic in the capital, and for a while she believes she has escaped her burdens. Unfortunately, trouble isn’t far. Her brother has left for the north, too, and has not been heard from in weeks. Naturally, everyone turns to Sonia to secure his safety. With only her wits – and the help of a lovesick taxiboy – Sonia has to untangle lies and secrets that have plagued her since her birth.
The novel is written in magical realism, but it touches on contemporary issues: migration and legality; true love vs. predatory relationships; defining yourself despite how others define you; young people’s dreams and having the right to follow them.
Q: What influenced you to become a writer?
I have to believe that it was inevitable. I come from a large Cuban family that loves to tell stories. The act of retelling events was part of my life from a very young age – and I’m thankful to my aunts, my mother, and my grandmother for that gift. Even today, when my elders are in their eighties, I enjoy hearing their stories of Cuba. The stories connected me to my imagination and to my culture. I use my writing in much the same way.
Q: You write mostly for children and young adults about overcoming tough circumstances. What appealed to you about this audience?
I think that writing for children is an honor. I don’t think you can find an adult who truly loves to read, who can’t name his favorite book as a child. There’s something magical about that time in our lives, and I love that my work lives there, where real life and stories hold hands. It’s such a treat to write for an audience that operates that way. As for writing about tough circumstances, I say that it’s important to give children – especially bicultural children – a way to see themselves, their struggles, and their families in books and stories.