Becky Villareal taught early childhood in Dallas Independent School District for 23 years. For the past ten years she has been completing family research. She spent the last 10 years working on family research. She has written two books about Gianna the Great.
Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Becky. Tell us a bit about your writing and your most recent work.
Becky Villareal: I have worked with many children who come from multicultural backgrounds. Since I come from a similar background, I was always trying to place myself in a group. I wrote Gianna the Great to address those inner conflicts that children face and followed it by Halito Gianna: The Journey Continues to let the children know what happens when you don’t give up.
Ferrante: What research did you do for this picture book?
Villareal: Through working with the National Archives and multiple genealogy websites, I was able to piece together the parts of my family tree that have been missing. I used this research to develop this story.
Ferrante: Do you think it is important for people to know their roots?
Villareal: On my website I use this Chinese Proverb, “To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root.” When a person comes from a multicultural background and has little knowledge of that history or culture, they feel lost like a boat at sea with no shore in sight. Once they feel they have found their place, they can embrace those strengths and weaknesses that are inherent in their own personalities that are part of their DNA makeup i.e. creativity, personality, intuitiveness etc..
Ferrante: Why did you create the character Gianna the Great?
Villareal: In truth, I created Gianna to express to all children how wonderful they are, how unique, and how special. It doesn’t matter who our parents are, what background we come from, what matters is that there never was nor will ever be again someone just like them.
Ferrante: What do you feel makes your writing original?
Villareal: When I am writing from Gianna’s point of view, my writer’s voice comes out in full force. I want the reader to experience what Gianna is experiencing as she goes through her journey to find her family history.
Ferrante: What is the most important thing you have learned about writing?
Villareal: The most important thing I have learned is to trust the Lord to give me the insight into what I need to write. He has given me the gift, now I trust His direction. Also, never lose faith in yourself or your writing.
Ferrante: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Villareal: Gianna is a series with a third one in the hands of my agent Jessica Schmeidler from Golden Wheat Literary Agency. I am more than happy to help other novice writers by reading and reviewing their works.
Ferrante: In all your travels, what is the most awe-inspiring bridge you have ever crossed?
Villareal: The bridge that goes into Galveston, Texas.
Ferrante: If you lived on a farm, which chore above all others would you definitely not want to do?
Villareal: I would not want to pick okra without gloves. I did it once as a girl and suffered for it.
Ferrante: If you had to rearrange the letters of your first name to give yourself a new name, what would your new name be?
Gianna the Great will be reviewed on this blog Monday, January 9, 2017.
Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.
Review of Gianna the Great January 09, 2017.
Review of Halito Gianna February 11, 2017.