A girl and her cat. This is the inspiration behind debut novel, Gaby, Lost and Found, by Angela Cervantes. I’ll review it tomorrow. Save the date: February 22!
Angela, age 10, with her brother, and their puppies. The dogs were the inspiration behind the character of Spike in Gaby, Lost and Found.
Most of Cervantes’ childhood was spent in Kansas, living in the Mexican-American community of Oakland. Her family also spent a lot of time in El Dorado and Wichita visiting abuelos, and a slew of aunts, uncles, and cousins on weekends.
As the story goes with many authors, from her website, you’ll discover Cervantes showed early signs of being a writer. She liked spending time alone, reading, watching clouds, and hoarding paper and pens for writing time. One of her much-loved reading pleasures as a child were the Chronicles of Narnia, which not only did Cervantes read multiple times but she also wrote her own sequel to it. In high school, Cervantes discovered poetry and absorbed anything by Sylvia Plath and by Langston Hughes. About that time, she also began to read Kurt Vonnegut, who remains one of her all-time favorite authors.
Although Cervantes thought she would never finish her university program, due to struggles with algebra, she graduated with the help of a math tutor from Pakistan. Armed with a degree in English, Cervantes moved to Mexico, where she taught at a private school. Showing more signs of being a writer, she also wrote a notebook full of short stories. Unfortunately, she lost it on a trip home.
In 2003, Cervantes returned to Kansas, where she completed another degree, co-founded a Chicana poetry group, published two chapbook with the group, and began working at an international children’s organization. Five years later, she won third place for Creative Nonfiction in the Missouri Review’s audio competition and Kansas City Voices’ Best of Prose Award. In 2008, she was also recognized as one of Kansas City’s Emerging Writers by the Kansas City Star Magazine.
Today, Cervantes tries to be disciplined as a writer, but says she finds herself easily distracted by the clouds outside her window and cat videos on YouTube. Despite this, her writing process for Gaby Lost and Found was this: come home from work, write for three hours on a daily basis, and then write for seven to eight hours on the weekend. The first draft took nine months. According to The Debutante Ball, there were many times Cervantes doubted she could finish, but her husband promised her that they could get a dog if her book got published.
When not writing, Cervantes likes to read. If not reading or writing, she likes to run. It clears her mind and makes up for the long periods of time she sits to write. Gaby, Lost and Found was released in August of 2013. Cervantes is currently working on a second middle-grade novel.