One Story One City author highlights her book

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, right, author of Gods of Jade and Shadow is interviewed by Debby Verba, Public Service Librarian of the Old Town Newhall Library as Morena- Garcia speaks about her writing process during an event hosted by the City of Santa Clarita Public Library and held at the Newhall Family Theater of Performing Arts in Newhall on Saturday, March 7, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

Silvia Moreno-Garcia shared insights from the writing process for her book, “Gods of Jade and Shadow,” on March 7 to an audience of avid book readers in Newhall. 

The One Story One City program the city of Santa Clarita hosts each year is meant to promote reading and inspire citywide discussion about a featured novel, according to a city of Santa Clarita news release. This year, “Gods of Jade and Shadow” was chosen. 

“Gods of Jade and Shadow” is a novel inspired by Mexican folklore that follows a coming-of-age tale of Casiopea Tun who finds her grandfather’s secret box. After opening the box, she releases the Mayan god of death, Hun-Kam, which sends Casiopea on a journey through Mexico to help Hun-Kam recover his throne. 

At the Newhall Family Theatre for the Performing Arts, Debbie Verba, public services librarian from the Old Town Newhall Library, led a conversation with Moreno-Garcia about her writing process and the influences behind her book. 

Growing up, Moreno-Garcia read whatever she could get her hands on, Moreno-Garcia told the audience. 

“(I read during the 1980s) so there was no such thing as young adult literature,” said Moreno-Garcia. “My mother read very widely, so I learned to read widely.” 

Along with being an award-winning author, Moreno-Garcia is a short story writer, editor, publisher and columnist for The Washington Post and NPR. Outside of writing, she is the communications coordinator on the Faculty of Science at the University of British Columbia. 

Short story writing was the start of her writing journey. 

“I sold a lot (of my short stories) to tiny magazines for small amounts of money and just kept doing it,” said Moreno-Garcia. “You have to write a lot of stuff to get better.” 

When she first started out in the field, it was not very diverse, she said. 

“There were almost no writers like me and by that I mean people of color,” said Moreno-Garcia, “and even less Latino writers around.” 

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, author of Gods of Jade and Shadows signs autographs during a book signing after an event hosted by the City of Santa Clarita Public Library and held at the Newhall Family Theater of Performing Arts in Newhall on Saturday, March 7, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

However, since then Moreno-Garcia has noticed a shift in society and in the writing field. Despite being told in her career that her name was too long to fit on the spine of the book or that a successful novel based outside of the United States would not be possible, Moreno-Garcia was able to achieve that success and more. 

“Gods of Jade and Shadow” was written for Moreno-Garcia’s great-grandmother, who was the one who introduced storytelling to her. 

“She would tell me stories when I was a child and I wanted to tell a story to her,” said Moreno-Garcia. “I wanted to create somebody that she could identify with.” 

Her great-grandmother could not read, yet Moreno-Garcia explained that reading and storytelling are not mutually exclusive. 

“She was a great storyteller,” said Moreno-Garcia. “Oral storytelling is sometimes undervalued, but it is a valuable skill.” 

Once the conversation came to a close, audience members were able to ask Moreno-Garcia questions and get their books signed. 

To learn more about the One Story One City program, contact Senior Librarian Crystina Yeager at [email protected] or 661-259-0750.

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