Interview with Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Guadalupe Garcia McCall's author photo

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? Where can we find you on social media?

I was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, but I grew up in Eagle Pass, or El Águila, which is what we call it. Now, however, I live in Sherwood, Oregon, because I teach at George Fox University in Newberg.

What kind of creative work do you do?

I write young adult multicultural novels in several different genres, like contemporary, fantasy, and historical. More than anything, my novels speak to issues of social justice and call for social reform.

Had you ever been to a Worldcon before?

This was not my first time at Worldcon. I was at Worldcon/LoneStarCon 3 in San Antonio in 2013 promoting my book, Summer of the Mariposas (Fantasy, Tu Books, 2012). I was on panels for Mexican Folklore, Magical Realism, Poetry Inside Out, Mexican Female Writers of the Fantastic, and using YA SF to Boost Interest in Science! That was a great weekend too!

What did you expect being part of the Initiative would be like? How did your experience compare with that expectation?

I expected this Worldcon experience to be as magical and fantastical as it was when I was at Worldcon/LoneStarCon 3 in 2013, and it was. However, there was more to this Con experience for me, because this time there was a bigger intent and purpose to my attendance. This time, it wasn’t just my publisher sending me there to promote my books. This time, I had received a blessing, a gift, from people trying to make a positive impact on our world—mi gente, moviendose juntos as a collective. I just wish I’d had more time to enjoy it. I could only attend for the weekend.

Cover of All the Stars Denied by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Tell us about one highlight moment of your Worldcon experience.

I rushed in on Saturday, feeling like Psyche when Breeze picked her up and deposited her on magical grounds above the clouds. I stepped lightly, quietly, because the panel with our gente was already underway and I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of ideas. It was magical and wonderful and beautiful to see and hear our embajadores de Mexico speak about the work they do in their side of the US/Mexico border. I was overwhelmed with emotion to be in the audience flanked by others like me, sitting together in solidarity, to support and cheer each other on. It was truly a blessing.

Recommend any or all of the following: a song, a written work, a piece of visual art, and a movie. Tell us why you love them!

I recommend the 1997 movie Gattaca with Ethan Hawke, because there are elements in that movie that spoke to me then and have stayed with me until now. Just this morning, I was thinking about the play on the word, “Invalid” in that movie. In that world of social injustice and prejudice based on the process of purity of birth and genetic sanitation, the word “Invalid” is pronounced “in-valid” meaning “not valid” or not genetically engineered and thus not “validated” by their government and society. But the first definition on the Webster’s dictionary, and the way most of us read that word when it first appears on the screen in the movie (registering the MC’s blood sample), brings to mind someone with a disability. And the way the MC (Ethan Hawke) explains it, “We now have discrimination down to a science,” is so spot on. I think that movie makes us reflect a lot on our future on this earth. It asks a lot of questions, and that’s what it’s all about. Reflection.

Guadalupe Garcia McCall with a stormtrooper at Worldcon 76 (Sent by Guadalupe Garcia McCall; photo by Anonymous on Guadalupe's phone)

What was the funniest thing that happened during your trip?

I saw a stormtrooper and quickly asked him to pose with me. It was funny because I posted it on social media and immediately people were asking me if I had looked to see if it was Mark Hamill. I hadn’t even thought about it, so that was a forehead-slap moment for me. I should’ve looked!

Where should new people start familiarizing themselves with your work?

My books are all published by Tu Books/Lee and Low Books in NY. My latest novel, All the Stars Denied, is not SFF, but it’s of interest because it deals with our current immigration issues in that it portrays the “repatriation” of over 1 million Mexicans/Mexican Americans back to Mexico in 1931. During these “round-ups” 600,000 deported “repatriates” were actually US born citizens.

Pablo Defendini