A Sprinkle of Spirits: Community and Día de Los Reyes by Anna Meriano
It’s always interesting to switch gears from writing a book to talking about it. When I started promoting the first Love Sugar Magic book, I quickly found that the themes from the book I wanted to talk about the most were the ones that resonated with my life. Publishing my debut novel was magical, and it felt almost nonfictional to describe Leo coming into her powers, claiming her place in the world after a series of false starts and insecurities, and discovering (after a lot of unnecessary worry) that her culture and her family traditions had never been out of reach. Now as I think about the themes of book two, I’m struck by how both Leo and I have grown since our debut. We’re both determined not to repeat old mistakes—but still end up making new ones. We both need our friends more than ever even if we aren’t always the best at showing it. And in particular I notice how, even more than before, we’re both surrounded by amazing, supportive, magical communities that shape the fabric of our stories.
In Love Sugar Magic: A Sprinkle of Spirits,Leo learns that she and her family are not the only brujas in the world. In fact, they’re members of the Southwest Regional Brujería and Spellcraft Association, which comes complete with a bimonthly newsletter and a yearly convention. While this may not seem like the juiciest plot nugget at first glance, opening the magic system to the world gives Leo and her family so much more to explore—new books to consult and friends to visit and spells to try out. In addition, Leo spends more of this book interacting with other citizens of Rose Hill, Texas, learning about the town’s history and inhabitants from some surprising sources. Although she struggles at first with knowing how to fit into her community as a bruja, Leo relies on her friends and family to help her solve her new batch of magical mishaps.
My publishing journey has only been possible because of the support of so many intersecting communities. The CAKE Literary family started me on the journey of writing the series, the amazing team at Walden Pond Press brought the books to life in their best possible form, and my immediate and extended family encouraged me along the way and shouted my book from the rooftops when it came out. Both before and after my debut, I found myself welcomed into communities of writers, bloggers, booksellers, librarians, and teachers online and in real life. At my first ever book event, the Texas Book Festival introduced me to Mexican and Mexican American authors and illustrators as we presented to schools near the Texas border. A Twitter encounter led me to WorldCon with the MexicanxInitiative, with fantasy authors and illustrators who have become an extended family of support. Most recently I am excited to be part of Las Musas, a group of women and nonbinary Latinx kidlit authors working together as we release our debut and sophomore novels. Going to conferences and conventions this year is already starting to feel less like uncharted territory and more like a chance to see old friends, and the more I feel a community surrounding me and my work, the more comfortable I am with my role in the community.
A Sprinkle of Spirits takes place during the celebration of Día de los Reyes, a Christian holiday celebrating the day that the three wise kings brought gifts to baby Jesus. This holiday is celebrated around the world in a variety of different ways, but it has particular significance in Latin America and among Latinxs in the United States. It makes sense to me that this holiday—the moment when the newborn is welcomed into a community of wise and powerful kings—would resonate in a culture where community is so important. It is clichéd advice to tell writers to find their people, but it is absolutely true, and whether you are a baby religious figure, a baby bruja, or a baby author, you’re going to need the support of a community. I’m so grateful for mine.
Anna Meriano is the author of the “Love Sugar Magic” series, which has received starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness. A Houston native, she graduated from Rice University with a degree in English and earned her MFA in writing for children from the New School. Anna works as a tutor and part time teacher with Writers in the Schools, a Houston nonprofit that brings creative writing instruction into public schools. In her free time, she likes to knit, study American Sign Language, and play full-contact quidditch.
LOVE SUGAR MAGIC: A SPRINKLE OF SPIRITS
PUBLICATION DATE: February 5, 2019
LOVE SUGAR MAGIC: A SPRINKLE OF SPIRITS BLOG TOUR
February 5 Nerdy Book Club
February 7 Las Musas Reads
February 9 Charlotte’s Library
February 10 A Library Mama
February 11 Boricua Reads
February 12 YAYOMG
February 13 Pragmaticmom
February 14 Latinos in Kidlit
February 14. 24hr.yabookblog