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Raquel Vasquez Gilliland Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

Dirt and Honey (2018)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Tales from the House of Vasquez (2018)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Mexican American novelist, poet, mother, painter, and an aspiring micro-farmer. Through her work, she explores folklore and myths as well as plants, motherhood, and the lineages of all things. She is inspired the most by fog and seeds.

She was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, where she grew up with her brother, sister, and parents. Raquel studied fine art for many years, specializing in painting, during both her high school and college years. She has her BA in cultural anthropology from the University of West Florida and her MFA in creative writing from the University of Alaska, Anchorage.

When Raquel is not busy with writing, she tells stories to her plants and they tell stories back to her.

Raquel grew up in a family of story-tellers. She also grew up with magic. Her mom would cut distant rain clouds with kitchen knives, while her grandma swept fear away with her corn broom. Both of them carry holy water, rosaries, and dried beans anywhere they went.

Having long been removed from Mexico proper, Raquel’s maternal family kept what she always imagined were ancient practices alive. Masa, clapped into some discs and bubbled over the skillet, fried eggs that were cut with tomatoes and molcajete-smashed peppers, and old fairy tales of the family, told after the meal was blessed.

Since she was influenced by the magic from her upbringing, her work focuses on her Mexican-American identity and heritage, and keeping ancient folk tales in verse, stories which are both familial and regional.

Raquel’s chapbook, called “Tales From the House of Vasquez”, won the 2018 Rattle Chapbook Prize.

Raquel’s debut novel, called “Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything”, was released in the year 2020, and was published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Her work is from the genre of young adult fantasy.

Raquel’s debut poetry collection, titled “Dirt and Honey”, was released in the year 2018, and was published by Green Writers Press.

“Dirt and Honey” is a poetry collection, released in the year 2018. The retelling of feminist reclamations of ancient myths, Mexican family folktales, and new motherhood, this collection reveals the links of each of these experiences with her odd language and metaphor. The book itself reads like a creation myth of its own, and is divided into four parts: Dirt, Clay, Honey, and Pollen.

She writes across myth and time, describing the grandma of God, one woman that grew leaves, and the powerful tale of her grandpa, who left, a century prior, for Texas as one of the refugees of the Mexican Civil War.

This work centers the reader in a place all of Raquel’s own making. One where old lineages are drawn with breast milk, fisherchildren displaced from wars always are welcomed into brand new lands, and seduction starts with feasts of hot peppers.

Raquel is able to invent whole entire worlds where woman is the same thing as nature. With these poems, women are the first creators: flowers bloom right at their feet, and pines grow out of their words. These poems ask us to rethink our own treatment of our environment, by offering up these symbiotic relationships between nature and humans as mythical.

“Tales From the House of Vasquez” is a poetry collection, released in the year 2018. After she gave birth to her son, she had a nervous breakdown that was so severe that her husband quit his job in order to help out with the baby. Two years later, she re-examined this experience with poetry. Mental illness is something that runs on her mom’s side of her family, particularly with the women.

While Gilliland hunted for the reasons why these women suffered, she discovered stories. Some of the stories came from the lips of her grandma, Ofelia, and her mom, Maria Elena. Some stories came unearthed from the very fertile dirt where poems grow. Put all together, “Tales From the House of Vasquez” makes for an archetypal journey in verse.

This poetry collection is full of wit, warmth, myth, magic, folklore, and feminism. Readers found themselves being thoroughly charmed by Raquel’s gorgeous poems. She is unafraid to merge the touching with spooky in the same masterful poem. These poems will embrace and enthrall anybody that takes the time to read them.

“Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything” is the first stand alone novel and was released in the year 2020. This is the story of a Mexican American teen that discovers profound connections among things like alien life, immigration, and folklore.

It has been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and one ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years have gone by since Sia Martinez’s mother vanished. Sia would like to move on, however it is tough in her small Arizona town where folks refer to her mother’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident”.

Sia knows her mom has to be dead, but each new moon Sia drives out into the desert and lights la Guadalupe and San Anthony candles in order to guide her mom back home.

Then one night, under one million stars, Sia’s life as well as the world we know it cracks wide open. A blue lit spacecraft crashes right in front of Sia’s car. Inside is Sia’s mother, who is very much alive.

While Sia races to save her mother from armed and quite possibly alien soldiers, she finds secrets just as profound as they are dangerous in this exploration of family, first love, immigration, and our vast and limitless universe.

Raquel paints some rather striking images in some clean prose that bleeds like poetry, and with this story, she has crafted a spiritual, mythical, science fiction, and a genre bender of a tale. Sia’s voice is filled with lyricism, spirituality, and sassiness, and she is a relatable teenager, as she is sad, vulnerable, angry, loving, and real. The stories that Sia’s grandmother told to her, which are filled with history, are used in a fantastic way to bring Sia closer to her family and her culture.

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