Behind the Book is an exclusive feature at Muggle-Born that gives readers an inside look into the editorial process of some of our favorite books. Plot changes, lost characters, and many more interesting topics are tackled in an interview with the author.
The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina
Did You Know?
- The original title of the book had been called, Jaibera, which is slang for crab worker.
- Meg Medina worked with the same editor who edited her first picture book
- Medina started working on the novel all the way back in 2006
- Read on to find out more Behind the Book info about THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND!
How many months did it take for you to write the original draft of THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND?
There were actually many distinct drafts of this novel, and it went through very extensive changes. I started working on it early in 2006.
How long did the overall production of your book take from the moment you sent the book to your editor to the final publication date?
Four years – but mostly because the manuscript saw a huge overhaul. In March 2008, Kate Fletcher, my fantastic editor at Candlewick Press started to work with me on strengthening the manuscript from my original concept. This was an amazingly generous act on her part. We had worked together on my first picture book, and I shared with her the difficulties I was having with the manuscript for my second novel. She made suggestions and I worked on revisions. She acquired it in Dec 2008.
Throughout the editorial process were there any significant changes to your story in terms of plot?
This novel saw a complete revision – and I do mean re-vision. Originally, the novel was about young women who come north to work as crab workers. At its core was a look at the plight of people who travel north to find work and opportunity, but I was also leaning for a love story as well. When Kate read it, she fell in love with Sonia in her home country and all the characters that inhabited that place. Today, The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind is still a love story and a look at the sacrifices people make to find their future, but my characters inhabit a more magical world that is both foreign and familiar to all readers, especially those with Latin American roots. One of the loveliest surprises about making that change was that I was able to explore the truths about young love, poverty, power, and migration as I saw them. It was much easier to achieve that from the fictional town of Tres Montes and, later, the capital.
I lost characters and gained characters as I sharpened the story. When the story changed to a setting in Tres Montes and La Capital, I lost all the American characters, of course. I vaguely remember someone named Hector in one of the stories…and Señora Mason was originally Katherine Mason, a tough lady who ran a crab plant with an iron fist. But look at all I gained! Oscar, the evil Conchita Fo, Teresa, just to name a few. And best of all, Pancho. He started out as one line in my original draft…just a background taxiboy. Obviously, he emerged as my hero. I’ve never been able to resist the shy and chivalrous at heart.
What was the most challenging part of writing and the editorial process?
Having the courage to stick with a piece of writing and reinvent it. There were many, many times I wanted to give up on this story. It made me question whether I was a good writer at all. I was very lucky that Kate had faith in my willingness to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.
Did THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND go through any title changes?
The original title was Jaibera, which is slang for crab worker.
Is there anything else that you could tell us about THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND that we wouldn’t know unless we were part of the editorial team at Candlewick Press?
Well, I’ve never adored the title, although I’m the one who came up with it. That’s the one skill I wish I had: Titles.
For more about THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND, make sure to read my review.
Make sure to check out the other stops of THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND Blog Tour!
Wednesday, March 7: http://www.wastepaperprose.
Thursday, March 8: http://bookbriefs.blogspot.
Friday, March 9: http://muggle-born.net/
Monday, March 12: www.thebookcellarx.com
Tuesday, March 13: http://www.teenreads.com/
Wednesday, March 14: http://www.mochalattereads.
Thursday, March 15: http://joyousreads.blogspot.
Friday, March 16: http://hispanicreader.com/
THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND by Meg Medina Book Review
Publication Date: March 13th 2012 by Candlewick Press
Rating: – Acceptable |
Book Summary: Sonia’s entire village believes she has a gift, but it’s only in leaving home that she finds out who she truly is. A compelling tale from a rich new voice in young adult fiction.
Sixteen-year-old Sonia Ocampo was born on the night of the worst storm Tres Montes had ever seen. And when the winds mercifully stopped, an unshakable belief in the girl’s protective powers began. All her life, Sonia has been asked to pray for sick mothers or missing sons, as worried parents and friends press silver milagros in her hands. Sonia knows she has no special powers, but how can she disappoint those who look to her for solace? Still, her conscience is heavy, so when she gets a chance to travel to the city and work in the home of a wealthy woman, she seizes it. At first, Sonia feels freedom in being treated like all the other girls. But when news arrives that her beloved brother has disappeared while looking for work, she learns to her sorrow that she can never truly leave the past or her family behind. With deeply realized characters, a keen sense of place, a hint of magical realism, and a flush of young romance, Meg Medina tells the tale of a strongwilled, warmhearted girl who dares to face life’s harsh truths as she finds her real power.
Book Review Overview:
- Setting plays a big role in THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND
- Quiet book with characters that don’t leave a lasting impression
- Displays the struggles of immigrants who travel away from home in hopes for a better future
The people of Tres Montes in THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND by Meg Medina are superstitious. They believe that a young girl of sixteen, Sonia Ocampo, has the power to heal and to protect. But Sonia knows that she is nothing special and that she has been living a lie her entire life. When given the opportunity, Sonia travels to the capital to work at Casa Mason as a housekeeper and to relieve herself of her town’s burdens.
Setting plays a huge role in THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND. Tres Montes is a sleepy mining mountain town that all the young adults want to escape. Tres Montes is isolated from the outside world; only one train enters and leaves the station each week. I thought that it was great that, as a reader, I could not pinpoint the exact location of Tres Montes. I knew that the people spoke Spanish, and the geographical features give some clues, but it is not a place that I recognize. It gives me the impression that Tres Montes can be any sleepy mining town, but at the same the not knowing also bothered me.
THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND by Meg Medina is a really quiet book, and for books like this, either the writing has to stand out or the characters have to be refreshing. While I enjoyed THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND, the characters – especially Sonia – and the writing fail to leave a lasting impression in my mind. I wish we got to learn more about Dalia, Eva, and even Senora Mason.
However, I did sympathize with the characters who were looking to live a better life. It was inspiring to hear the lengths that some of the citizens of Tres Montes would take just to get a job at the capital. For example, Ramona traveled to Casa Mason for months at a time to earn money to help raise her children – even if it means leaving them behind in Tres Montes. For those who can’t get a work permit, the journey through the mountains is a perilous one, yet young adults are willing to risk their lives in order to get to the capital. For me, this perilous journey is reminiscent of the the trip that it would take for an immigrant to cross the Mexican border. I don’t know if it was the author’s intent, but I saw THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND as a reflection for the immigrants who risk their lives in hopes for a better future.
I feel like the ending wasn’t completely resolved. I would have liked to know what happened to the girls back at the capital in Casa Mason. As a reader, we are neglected to be informed about some of the consequences of Sonia’s choices toward the end of the book. However, the closing scene of THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND is a hopeful one that leaves a beautiful and lasting image in readers’ minds.
I would recommend THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND by Meg Medina to readers who don’t mind a quiet novel.
Other Book Reviews:
Wear the Old Coat
About the Author
Meg Medina has written for adults and children for over fifteen years. Her stories and poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines. MILAGROS: Girl from Away (Christy Ottaviano Books: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers) is her first novel for young readers. Meg is also the author of TIA ISA WANTS A CAR and THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND (both forthcoming from Candlewick Press).
Meg lives in Richmond, Virginia with her family.
Find the Author
A weekly meme on the books on the top of my list to read and books recently acquired, borrowed, or bought. Inspired by the Story Siren’s In My Mailbox.
Top of the Shelf / Currently Reading
What’s next on my to-read list for the upcoming week.
Thanks to the lovely folks at Macmillan!