I wanted to write a book that would transform the reader’s inner state. To literally remove the reader from this reality and deliver them to a parallel world, inhabited by humans and animals and plants, but different, too. Magical, romantic, and mysterious.
My wish is for the reader to lose sight of their mundane surroundings, their problems and needs. To enter the world of Mariposa, to walk beside Annarose in the 1920s and 1930s, and meet her family, friends, and lovers. To feel the white heat of a Texas summer, to gaze in wonder at a lunar festival in Chinatown, and to thrill in the company of Frida Kahlo and the brilliant, complicated Crisanto.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote guided me in my efforts to place words on paper. The romantic mystery of Rebecca and the surreal childhood experienced by Capote’s main character lent themselves to my own story because these two books spoke to me. I felt something truthful in them and wanted to convey this truth in Mariposa. My work has also been influenced by John Fowles’ The Magus. The exotic locale of this book, the erotic mystery, and the almost unfathomable ideas presented in the story made an impression on me that lingered with me for years.
My summers and holidays were spent at my grandparent’s home in San Angelo, Texas, on a bluff overlooking the Concho River. The home was isolated, with no telephone, miles from town or any neighbors. Rooms were heated by fireplaces, even in the 1960s. A bullet hole next to the name, Roy, carved by a knife, decorated the mantle of one fireplace. Legend had it that the home had once been a way station for the Butterfield Stage Route and Pony Express, almost 200 years ago. This home became the setting for my main character, Annarose’s, childhood. It was a haunted place, not by ghosts, but by more elemental entities — the spirit of the wind, the river, and the land. As a child I knew that one day I would write about my experiences on that wild, beautiful landscape.
Years later, after I grew up, I spent more than a decade living in Los Angeles. I traveled to Mexico in 1987, looking for magic, just almost desperate for it. I found it, I thought, in a man. I still believed that all the good things in life existed outside myself, that something could be given to me, instilled into me, and that from then on, my life would be beautiful. This is the theme of Mariposa. Transformation only occurs on the inside. The gift is within.
While I understand that a good book or a magical romance can transform a person’s inner state, they cannot provide lasting change. However, they can give you a taste of the difference, and once you have had that taste, you can learn to create this way of being on your own. Devotion to permanent transformation is necessary. Years may be needed to accomplish this desire. Or not. The principles subtly interspersed throughout Mariposa can offer direction.
Candis C. Coffee is the author of MARIPOSA. You can visit her website at www.candiscoffee.com.