I've been working on The Daring Young Man, the sequel to The Mumbo Jumbo Circus, for (I kid you not) a couple of years now. The Mumbo Jumbo Circus took a couple of years to come to its present, published state as well. But I have given myself some extra-special, mighty challenges with my main character in DYM, Dante Delgado.

Dante is sixteen, from Patzcuaro, Michoacan, and is of Purepecha heritage. He used to be a star trapecista in his family's circus, able to do a quadruple somersault. When our story begins, Dante is orphaned and his hand is forever maimed. He will never fly on the trapeze again. He is understandably angry and confused.

I am none of those things. But I AM highly empathetic and I love research, so I blithely set about writing my story. Along the way I have battled the demons of sophomore-book self-doubt, (MJC is not my first completed novel, but it's the first to enter the world), and the challenges of building a book that both fits in a series and stands alone. Each book in the Mumbo Jumbo Circus series is told from the viewpoint of a different teen. I've been meeting these challenges with grace, chocolate, and teeth-gnashing, but the process has been horribly slow.

And that's about to get WORSE. But it's a REALLY GOOD THING!
Danza de los Viejitos. (Dance of the Old Men) Image from KUOW.org.
I have discovered that among my acquaintance is a lovely man who is a Purepecha from Michoacan. He speaks the native language. And in a spectacular bit of real-world magic (as in the universe providing me with the tools I need), his sister is a bruja (witch or wise-woman) and can assist me with details regarding Dante's abuela (grandmother) who was a bruja. He himself is the male equivalent, shaman would probably be the closest English word.

My friend is helping me with both the Spanish and Purepecha language in the book, and with cultural details. As I discussed Dante and his story with him, I was AMAZED, and I'm not using that word lightly, at the similarities, coincidences, and serendipitous alignments between my story and his experience. I was seriously blown away. I love it when the world throws me a bone and encourages me to keep going. Dante's story will be told, and a few of the riches of the Purepecha will be shared with a wider audience. It's just going to take a little more time. I'm now shooting for a February publishing date.

In the meantime, I will also publish my novel X-IT. So I will have a title coming out between now and February.

When I'm writing, I often feel that the book already exists in time and it's my job to reach through the veils and pull through the best possible version, bringing it into the present piece by piece.  I was able to share Thanksgiving with my friend who will be such a gift to my work, and I am grateful, humbled, and excited at the magic at work here.