Friday, November 30, 2012

Researching in Guatemala

The countdown has begun. Four days from now ...

Thanks to a grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI), I’m traveling to Guatemala, a beautiful fierce land with rainforests, volcanoes, wild animals, and a rich Mayan heritage. Many ancient Mayan cities are still being found today, buried in the thick jungles to the north. But I’m not traveling to the jungles.

Guatemala is luring me to its highland capital, Guatemala City, surrounded by three volcanoes: Pacaya, Agua, and Fuego. Known as one of the most dangerous cities of Central America, Guate (as the locals call it) is home to millionaires and paupers and everyone in between. But I’m heading there to visit the dump.

Research for my work-in-progress novel for middle grade readers (ages 8 to 12) requires that I see, smell, and experience the dump, a place where toxins and medical wastes are cast, where methane gases caught fire in 2005, and where over 11,000 people live. Titled The Vanishings, my novel exposes the plight of life in the largest dump of Central America. Outcasts among their society, these people are treated barely better than the garbage they live in. Many of them even believe they are the refuse of the world.

I’ve been told this will be a heartbreaking journey. I want to share it with you. Join me here, beginning December 4th.