Behind my novel is the image of a woman who is strong, fiercely independent, ambitious, intelligent and attractive to both men and women, but who is at the same time a profoundly imperfect and flawed human being. From the beginning, Ximena Godoy has been more an idea than flesh and blood, and I confess that as I crafted her life story, her image grew in me obsessively, compelling me to write the novel. Her complexity, the mystery of who she really is, more so than any of the other characters that I’ve crafted up to this time, inspired me.
As she developed I witnessed how Ximena Godoy seduced men, how she compelled them to fall in love with her, and to desire her. She did this not for romantic or loving reasons, but prompted by ambition, or a way to gain freedom. I also saw that when sexual ardor dimmed in her, or ended, she walked away, never looking back, leaving behind her a pathway littered with withered loves. Although this side of her character baffled me, it also made me want to know her even more.
As her story came full turn, when events standing in her way unfolded, I was taken aback by how she became obsessed with the desire to retaliate; how she conceived a crime of revenge with more passion and planning than when she conceived the child of her flesh. And there was yet another side to her nature: Ximena Godoy was a profoundly lonely woman, obsessively introspective, who abandoned herself to solitude and compulsive introspection as her only escape, even though it evoked bitter feelings of guilt in her. These characteristics also became a force behind the novel.
So you see, the story behind the book is really the presence of this woman who is more idea than flesh. She’s the woman that lives life as she chooses; the woman who is unconventional and defiant of that Mexican tradition that dictates how a woman should conform. Ximena Godoy is the woman who often loves, but also betrays. On the other hand, she is the woman who in the end faces her demons, and dies with no regrets.
I leave it up to you, my reader, to love Ximena Godoy or leave her. What I hope is that you share in my fascination for such a protagonist.
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Graciela Limón is a Latina Writer, Educator and Activist. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish Literature from Marymount College Los Angeles, a Master of Arts Degree in the same field from the University of the Americas Mexico City, followed by a PhD in Latin American Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Prior to retirement, Limón was a professor of U.S. Hispanic Literature as well as Chair of the Department of Chicana/o Studies at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California. She is now Professor Emeritus of that University.
Limón has written critical work on Mexican, Latin American and Caribbean Literature. However, she now concentrates her writing efforts on creative fiction that is germane to her areas of interest: feminism, social justice and cultural identity. Her body of work includes In Search of Bernabé that won The Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award (1994). Limón also published The Memories of Ana Calderón (1994), Song of the Hummingbird (1996) andThe Day of the Moon (1999). Erased Faces, which was awarded the 2002 Gustavus Myers Book Award, was published in 2001, Left Alive was released in 2005, The River Flows North, 2009, followed by The Madness of Mamá Carlota, 2012. Her latest book is The Intriguing Life of Ximena Godoy, published by Cafe con Leche Books. Find out more about Graciela at www.gracielalimon.com.