"Is the Chupacabras Real?" Xavier Garza Answers Questions from Children

by Janine M. Schall, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX

On this fifth Monday of November, we continue our focus on children’s author Xavier Garza. In this post, Xavier answers questions from 2nd and 3rd grade students at Ynes B. Escobar Elementary in Roma, Texas. Student questions were video taped and transcribed. Xavier’s responses follow the transcription.

Mr. Xavier Garza, what gave you the idea to write the storyJuan and the Chupacabra? Like were you looking around and something gave you the idea?

Xavier: The idea came to me from my childhood memories. When I was little my cousins and I would pretend to hunt for monsters in the fields found in the back of our grandfather’s house. We would hunt for everything from La Llorona to the Chupacabras, but we never did catch any of them.

Mr. Xavier Garza, did you have fun writing the story Juan and Chupacabras?

Xavier: Yes, it was a lot of fun. I love to write, and I write about things that I love. It’s a lot of fun.

Mr. Xavier Garza, have you ever seen a chupacabra?

Xavier: No, I am sorry to say that I have never seen a Chupacabras, however, I would like to add that I have seen a Witch Owl!

Mr. Xavier Garza, was the chupacabra a reptile or a mammal?

Xavier: Neither actually. It’s an alien from outer space.

Mr. Xavier Garza, who gave you information about the chupacabras?

Xavier: I first heard about El Chupacabras from my grandfather. He had a friend from Puerto Rico that had mentioned the story to him, except he called him, “El Chupa-sangre.”

Mr. Xavier Garza, did somebody help you with the story of chupacabras?

Xavier: Yes, when you write a book for a publishing company you work with an editor. Their job is to help you make your story better. I have been very lucky that all the editors I have ever worked with have been truly great.

Mr. Xavier Garza, I have a question for you. Are the characters in Juan and the Chupacabras and Lucha Libre real?

Xavier: They are based on real people, yes. The names may have been changed, but the spirit of who they are based on remains.

Mr. Xavier Garza, how long ago did you do the story Lucha Libre?

Xavier: I did Lucha Libre back in 2001. The book didn’t get published till 2005.

Mr. Xavier Garza, was the boy with the gray mask in the lucha libre the tio [uncle]?

Xavier: Maybe, perhaps, but in the end I can’t say for sure. Nobody knows who a luchador truly is.

Mr. Garza, usted ha visto la lucha libre de verdad? [Mr. Garza, have you seen lucha libre in real life?]

Xavier: Si, yo cuando era un muchachito me llevaban a ver la lucha libre. Conozco a muchos de los luchadores. [Yes, when I was a little boy they took me to watch lucha libre. I know a lot of luchadores.]

How did the illustrator or you draw the pictures?

Xavier: When I do the pictures I first pretend to see the images play out in my head like a cartoon or movie. Then I make quick sketches of the most exciting scenes I saw. This I turn into illustrations.

Mr. Xavier Garza, which one is your favorite book that you have wrote?

Xavier: I love all my books, but Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid is very special to me because the little boy is based on  my son. I even made him look like my son.

Mr. Xavier Garza, do you have children? If you have children have you read the book to them?

Xavier: I have a five-year-old son named Vincent, and I read a book to him every night before I go to sleep. Sometimes I read my books, but I also read books by Joe Hayes and Yuyi Morales and others to him.

Mr. Xavier Garza, have you wrote … how many books have you wrote?

Xavier: I have five books published, and have a sixth book coming out in April of 2010 called Kid Cyclone fights the Devil and other Stories.

Dear Xavier Garza, how old you were when you wrote your first book?

Xavier: I was 34 when I first got published.

Mr. Xavier Garza, my question is, how did you make those two books very interesting?

Xavier: I write about things I love, so I have a lot of fun doing it. Hopefully other people read my books and feel the same fun that I do. I am very lucky that other people enjoy my books.

Author’s Note: On behalf of Worlds of Words, I would like to thank Xavier and the teachers and students of Ynes B. Escobar Elementary, for  participating in these discussions about Xavier’s work. This process has yielded additional information, materials, and input, which we hope to publish late summer/early fall.  — Janine

Please visit wowlit.org to browse or search our growing database of books, to read one of our two on-line journals, or to learn more about our mission.

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