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Fantasy Film Casting for 'Summer Camp Is Cancelled'

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

Belita Moreno as Grandma Raquel

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As a kid, I grew up watching George Lopez. I loved Belita’s character, even though she was actually much meaner than Grandma Raquel. Belita was always a sassy, no-nonsense person in her portrayal of George’s mother. But, she was also very harsh at times, so if she were to play Grandma Raquel, she’d have to turn down her harshness just a smidge.


Javier Bardem as Father González

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Who else could play Father González BUT Javier Bardem? Javier usually plays a villain and why wouldn’t he? He can speak death using only his eyes and face. He scared the hell out of me when he played Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men. Javier is 100% perfect to play Lyndon’s strict priest and I know he’d do a marvelous job.


Ardal O’Hanlon as Father O’Brien

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In the 90s, Hat Trick Productions made the show Father Ted, a hilarious comedy based in a fictional part of Ireland. The show surrounds the daily life of a Catholic priest, Father Ted, and his co-father, Father Dougal, who was played by Ardal. Ardal’s character was goofy, kind, and gentle, just like Father O’Brien. Since Ardal has experience portraying a funny priest, he would adapt to Father O’Brien’s role very easily.


Horatio Sanz as Uncle Manny

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I remember seeing Horatio on Saturday Night Live back when I was in junior high and thinking he was the funniest cast member of the lineup. He’s extremely talented at doing impersonations and exaggerating his facial features to get a laugh from his audience. If anyone can do an awesome job playing the most annoying character in SCIC, it’s definitely him.


Eva Longoria as Mrs. Donna Pérez

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Not only is Eva Longoria an excellent actress, but she’s also a huge philanthropist for children’s causes. Because of her generous history, I know she’d play a great mom to Lyndon. Additionally, she is also a Texan and since Summer Camp is Cancelled is rich in both Mexican and Texan culture, she would know exactly what to do for her role.


Jaime Camil as Mr. Edgar Pérez

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Jaime Camil has been in both Mexican and American productions. He was the voice actor for Miguel’s father in Coco and he’s also been on Jane the Virgin as well as other comedy shows. His background in making people laugh is perfect for playing Edgar.


Last, but not least – who would play Lyndon Baines Juan Pérez?

This is a hard question because I really don’t know! Lyndon is such a sweet boy and he has strong beliefs in friendship and how others should be treated. Whoever plays his character should have similar personal beliefs.


You can pre-order Summer Camp Is Cancelled by clicking here.

 
Our Voces Features Darlene Campos For Hispanic Heritage Month
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Through October 15, Our Voces will be featuring posts for Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting Latinx and Hispanic kid lit authors. This past week they interviewed Darlene Campos to get her thoughts on various things. In the article, Campos spoke on the first time she saw herself represented in literature.


‘The House on Mango Street’ by Sandra Cisneros! I read it for the first time when I was 13 years old and I could relate to the characters and the story line so well... For the first time ever in my school assigned readings, the main character was a Latina, just like me.
— Darlene Campos

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Campos also spoke on her first novel, Behind Mount Rushmore, her next project, Summer Camp Is Cancelled, and also, her hopeful future for Latinx books.


I want today’s Latinx kiddos to see themselves in main characters and be inspired to write their own stories to share with the world. I’d especially like to see graphic novels starring Latinx characters.
— Darlene Campos

You read the full article here. Campos will also be giving donating 100% of her royalties to ongoing hurricane relief through October 15.

5 Writers Who Started From The Bottom

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

Writing, like many careers, has its risks. There is no guarantee a writer will be a bestseller or have their story made into a movie. However, many writers did not go into this field for fame and money – they write because it is their passion. While writing carries its risks, it is not impossible to become a successful writer over time. Here are five writers who started from humbled beginnings.


Sandra Cisneros

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You may know Cisneros from her novel The House on Mango Street. In addition to this novel, Cisneros is the author of many books as well as a past winner of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship and the Texas Medal of Arts. Cisneros’ childhood was not an easy one. She grew up in poverty, constantly relocated, and with six brothers, she often felt isolated in her own home. It was this isolation that led Cisneros to writing and she composed her first poem at just ten years old. When one of her high school teachers encouraged her to keep writing, Cisneros took the advice and was later admitted into the Iowa Writers Workshop. It was at this workshop that Cisneros discovered her writing voice. She is now considered one of the most influential writers of this generation.


Stephen King

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Best known for his horror stories, Stephen King’s works have become synonymous with terror and fright. He is known for several novels including Carrie, It, and The Shining. Before King became the writer he is today, he had a difficult childhood. His father left the family when King was only two years old, making King’s mother the sole provider for him and his brother David. When King grew up, he was barely able to support himself and his wife Tabitha due to unemployment. He made some income by selling short stories to magazines, but it was not enough. It was around this time that King began drafting Carrie. He became so frustrated with the novel that he initially threw it away in the garbage, but Tabitha encouraged him to finish it. Carrie proved to be King’s big break, thanks to his wife!


Gabriel García Márquez

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García Márquez is best known for his novels One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. However, like many writers, García Márquez’s past was a struggle. Before he started writing One Hundred Years of Solitude, García Márquez had the idea for the novel, but he was unsure of how to write it down. One day, García Márquez was driving his wife and children to Acapulco for vacation, the first line popped into his head and he immediately turned the car around to head home and write the first draft. To make ends meet, García Márquez sold the family car and his wife Mercedes persuaded the local butcher, baker, and their landlord to grant them a line of credit until García Márquez finished his latest book. When One Hundred Years of Solitude was finally released, it became an international success and García Márquez officially became a respected voice in literature.


Toni Morrison

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Morrison is a former winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. She is famous for her novel Song of Solomon. As a child, Morrison grew up in a difficult time. When she was around two years old, her family’s landlord set fire to their home since they had been unable to pay the rent, leaving them with nothing. Morrison’s father worked several odd jobs to support the family. Later in life, Morrison married and had two sons, but divorced soon after, leaving her to care for her two young sons all by herself. When she began writing her first novel, The Bluest Eye, she woke up each morning at 4 AM to write as her sons slept. It was Song of Solomon that gave Morrison her biggest acclaim, and with this, her writing career kicked off to a supreme start.


Octavia E. Butler

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Butler is best known for her science fiction Patternist series and the Xenogenesis series. Before she became a writer, she too came from humbled beginnings. Her father died when she was only seven years old and she was raised by her mother and grandmother in a very strict household. Butler’s mother was a maid and sometimes she accompanied her to work where they witnessed and experienced racial segregation. Butler was also extremely shy and was diagnosed with dyslexia and often bullied at school. She took comfort in reading books and when she was ten years old, she begged her mother to buy her a typewriter so she could begin writing her own books. As an adult, Butler worked several jobs to support herself and woke up every morning at 2 AM to write before a long day of work. Butler would later win the MacArthur Fellowship, becoming the first science fiction writer in history to hold this award. She would go on to win many more awards for her influential science fiction works.


Yes, writing has its risks, but sometimes risks are worth taking. To writers who are just getting started, remember that you are just getting started and the future holds completed dreams. These five writers got their breakthroughs despite the odds and you can, too!

122 Rejections For 'Behind Mount Rushmore' Tells A Story of Perseverance for Darlene Campos

BY: GH

 

Every time our authors do an interview, we learn something interesting about them. Posted today at Tuscon Tales, a children's and young adult literature publication showcasing new and established writers, Darlene Campos revealed that 'Behind Mount Rushmore' was rejected 122 times.


Sometimes I was up until 2 or 3 a.m. just sending out queries. Fortunately, I had publishing credits to show off in my query letter, but I still received 122 rejections for Behind Mount Rushmore.
— Darlene Campos

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But she continued to submit her book for publication and encourages other writers to do the same.


Writing is not easy and publishing a novel is definitely not any easier. There will be times when you feel like you’re not a good writer and you shouldn’t even try anymore, but this is not true! Rejection letters show you’re trying. Wear them like a badge of honor. Keep on writing and keep on querying even when you don’t feel the drive to keep on. Even when everyone you know tells you that you can’t, show them you can.
— Darlene Campos

She also recognized the importance of pushing diverse stories involving diverse characters, which was a main driver that led to publishing with Vital Narrative.


The press I’m with focuses on diverse books by diverse writers which was definitely a big help because we turned out to have the same goals: more diverse books for readers.
— Darlene Campos

Campos also gave insight on the research she completed for the book, her inspirations for characters and revealed some information about her next novel, Summer Camp Is Cancelled.

Read the entire interview here. Darlene is donating 100% of royalties to Hurricane Harvey Relief in her hometown of Houston this month. You can support here.

 

Campos To Donate Royalties to Hurricane Relief

BY: DARLENE P. CAMPOS

 

Floods aren’t anything new in Houston. We’ve gone through hurricanes before. We knew the neighborhoods most prone to flooding before Harvey paid us his visit. We prepared ourselves with full hoards of food, bottled water, and gas. We thought we were ready.

Harvey showed us we were wrong the minute he arrived.

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Yet, unlike thousands of fellow Houstonians and Texans in other cities, I didn’t lose anything.

I didn’t lose power.

I didn’t lose water.

I didn’t lose my car.

I didn’t lose my house.

I didn’t lose my life.

The only physical loss I had was a couple of pounds because I was so petrified, I could barely eat. Harvey made me lose weight. That’s it.

Harvey also made me lose pieces of my heart. The neighborhood where I grew up is in shambles. A beloved bakery my fiancé and I visited whenever we wanted a good dessert is gone. The libraries I practically lived in during my college years are severely damaged. Watching your city, the place you call home, conquered by floodwaters is agonizing. Yet, Harvey did not take Houston’s hope. We Houstonians watched our city be ravaged by Harvey. We Houstonians have come together to rebuild.

After Harvey, I was overjoyed to be unharmed, but I felt so guilty to be spared. Why didn’t Harvey come for me? He tried. He flooded my entire street and then the water crept up to the rear of my car. By morning, the water receded. Harvey came close. For others, he came full force and showed no mercy.

I pledge to donate my royalties from September 15th through October 15th to the Greater Houston Community Foundation’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. For the next month, all of my royalties will go directly to helping Houstonians rebuild their lives. Please visit https://ghcf.org/hurricane-relief/ for more info or to donate.

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“And so there are claims forgiven

And so there are things that are gone

Houston is filled with promise…”

  • R.E.M., “Houston,” 2008
Darlene Campos Shares Dedication from 'Behind Mount Rushmore'

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

To my great grandfather, Jose Alcides Martinez Tobar (1903-1994), who would wake up in the middle of the night to write and drive my great grandmother, America Isidora Villamar Naranjo de Martinez (1920-1988), crazy every time he did so. Thank you for passing on your talents and determination. Thank you, great grandmother America, for always being his inspiration and making his written works possible.

To my mother, Tammy Yasmin Martinez, who has supported my writing journey since the day it began. Thank you for all the home-cooked meals, the prayers, the ridiculous jokes, and your nonsensical quirks which have appeared in every single story I have written. My love for you is so deep, there will never be a tool long enough to measure it.

To my boyfriend, David Noé Alcalá, who lets me write without any interruptions or distractions. Thank you for always boosting my mood, your hugs and kisses, and all the surprise “I Love You” text messages. I cannot wait until you are officially my husband. You make me feel emotions I did not know I had. I might be a writer, but I could have never written the love story you show me every single day. I love you, teddy bear.

To my good friend, Javier Andres Pritchard, who read the first (and terrible) drafts of Behind Mount Rushmore. I am so lucky to have had you as a reader during my early writing days. You always told me one day I would have a book published and now, here it is. Thank you for your suggestions, your encouragement, and your open ears whenever I need a friend to talk to.  

To all the creative writing/English professors and classmates I had over the years – this book would not be possible without you. Special gratitude goes out to Jessica Paige Wilson, Anthea Ara Rafique, Bertram Allan Mullin, Carla Erizbett Arellano, Donna Dennis Muñoz, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Bruce James Martin, Laurie Clements Lambeth, and Aaron Reynolds. Go Coogs! Picks Up, Miners!

To all of the wonderful English teachers I had in public school, but especially to Carol Thielemann, my second grade reading and writing teacher, Terri Cyphers, my sixth grade English teacher, Laurie Wilmoth, my seventh grade English teacher, and Carolyn Giannantonio, my ninth grade English teacher. I owe the strength of my writing skills to you. Thank you for being my foundation. A big shout out goes to Meadow Wood Elementary, Spring Forest Middle School, and Stratford High School!

To every literary journal that has published my work – thank you kindly for giving me the opportunity to share my words with your readers.

Last, but certainly not least, to Jennifer Snider-Batula. Thank you for your homemade cookies, the coupon booklets, and your wise insight on this adventure called life. You are the best co-worker and neighbor anyone could ever imagine. When Fred Rogers talked about good neighbors, he was talking about you.

The following stories were previously published in slightly different form:

  • “The Friend” was previously published by The Gap Toothed Madness
  • “The Dance” was previously published by RiverBabble
  • “The Funeral” was previously published by Word Riot
  • “The Cigarette” was previously published by Alfie Dog Limited
  • “The Burst” was previously published by Connotation Press
  • “The Crush” was previously published by Forever! Onward
  • “Lost Angeles” was previously published by The Aletheia
  • “The Fork” was the 2013 prose winner of Glass Mountain’s poetry and prose contest, previously published by The Writing Disorder and featured in Plain China’s Best Undergraduate Fiction Writing of 2013 anthology
  • “The Return” was previously published by Bartleby Snopes
  • “The Wedding” was previously published by Red Fez
  • “The Bullet” was previously published by Elohi Gadugi and was the winner of the 2013 Sylvan N. Karchmer Fiction Prize, awarded by the University of Houston
 
Fantasy Film Casting for 'Behind Mount Rushmore'

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

Charlie Hill as Jay Eagle Thunderclap

Unfortunately, Mr. Hill passed away in 2013. He was a fantastic Native American stand-up comedian and actor. In fact, he appears in the Roseanne episode “The Last Thursday in November” as D.J. Conner’s teacher. He was also a guest on The Richard Pryor Show as well as The Tonight Show with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman. His humor definitely fits the bill for Jay Eagle’s character.


Irene Bedard as Josephine Thunderclap

Ms. Bedard was phenomenal in the movie Smoke Signals. There is a scene in the movie when she tells Victor the real story of a house fire his father was involved in. Her delivery is spot-on and most of all, her acting makes you feel like you’re in the movie with her. She is outstanding on the big screen! I can’t imagine anyone else playing Josephine other than Irene Bedard.


Graham Greene as Mr. Wayne Graywolf

I’m a huge fan of Graham Greene. He plays Mogie in the movie Skins which is based on the novel of the same name by Adrian C. Louis. If you’ve read Skins, it’s impossible to imagine another actor playing Mogie. He’s charming, funny, and can adapt easily to any role he’s given. If anyone should play Mr. Graywolf, it’s him.


Sacheen Littlefeather as Sequoia Red Cloud

If you’ve heard of Marlon Brando, chances are you’ve heard of the time he refused to accept an Academy Award for Best Actor in The Godfather. Brando sent Littlefeather in his place to decline the award as a form of protest for the unjust misrepresentation of Native Americans in the film and television industry. I admire Littlefeather for her bravery in speaking up. If you look up her speech on YouTube, she was met with some applause, but also a lot of booing. Despite this, she kept on speaking. While Sequoia might not be the most likeable character among people, she holds her beliefs true to her heart, no matter what anyone thinks. Littlefeather would be perfect for this role.


Geri Keams as Yolanda Running Bear

Keams is an incredible storyteller, though she has appeared on several television movies and shows. I love how engaging she is when she tells a story. You can find her telling stories on YouTube if you just search her name. Ms. Running Bear is known for being a quirky science teacher, so I believe Geri Keams would fit this role just right.


Gary Farmer as Ray Firebird

This role is a big role. Gary Farmer stars alongside with Graham Greene in Skins as Mogie’s friend, Weasel Tail, which is where I first discovered his acting. He’s been in Smoke Signals and Powwow Highway where he is just as mesmerizing. Ray Firebird is a major character in Behind Mount Rushmore and only a major guy can play him. Gary Farmer is that major guy!


Eric Schweig as Gray Mountain Thunderclap

Like with Graham Greene, I’m a big fan of Mr. Schweig. He usually plays a tough guy, but a tough guy with a big heart. He plays Graham Greene’s brother in Skins and he does a fantastic job at this role. He’s flawed, but honestly, he’s an excellent brother in this film. He’s best known for being Uncas in The Last of the Mohicans, but this movie does him no justice. He is seriously underrated in the industry. He’s a perfect match for Gray Mountain Thunderclap.


Michael Peña as John David Gutierrez

Who knows where Nimo would be without John David? This role requires an outspoken nature, strength, friendship, and most of all, a smart mouth. John David doesn’t hold back and for this reason, I’d pick Michael Peña to take on this role. Peña played Cesar Chavez in the film of the same name and he was Sal Castro in Walkout. In these roles, Peña gave his all to stand up for what he believed in and never backed down. Peña has just what it takes to be John David.


Elaine Miles as Mrs. Rebecca Graywolf

Elaine Miles is probably best known for her work in the television series, Northern Exposure. She also starred in Smoke Signals and Skins as well. However, I first stumbled upon her acting in the mini-series The Rez in which she plays Mad Etta in the second season. She’s hilarious and unique not only as an actress but as a person, too. Mrs. Graywolf is a role she could master right away.


Last, but not least – who would play Nimo Thunderclap?

This is kind of a funny story. About a year ago, I went to my favorite Chinese restaurant here in Houston with my boyfriend. After dinner, we needed to get a few things from the grocery store down the road from the restaurant. Once we were inside, I noticed a young man, an employee specifically, who was the EXACT description of Nimo. I mean exact as in if I could make Nimo come alive from the novel, he’d look exactly like that employee. For privacy purposes, I won’t tell you the employee’s name, but I did ask him for helping locating an item I needed. He spoke just like Nimo and had his gestures. If there’s ever a movie or TV series based on Behind Mount Rushmore, I want to find this employee and ask him he’d like another job!


You can pre-order Behind Mount Rushmore by clicking here.

 
Resource List for 'Behind Mount Rushmore'

BY: STAFF

 

Darlene Campos spent six years researching while writing Behind Mount Rushmore. Listed below is just some of the resources she used to develop characters, create settings and build her story.


There are many more books I read – this is just a list of the books I can think of from the top of my head. I feel like I read a small library for this one novel.
— Darlene Campos
 


You can pre-order Behind Mount Rushmore by clicking here.

 
Darlene Campos Releases New Poem "Welcome To Houston"

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

We love Houston the way a mother loves her child,

more than the mother who stuffed

her dead daughter in the fridge to keep

collecting the girl’s social security check.

 

In Hermann Park, Sam Houston’s statue stands high

above everyone else. He faces children playing Frisbee

and sick people lingering to the Texas Medical Center.

At Buffalo Bayou, a man lies by the water

with a sack for a blanket while Joel Osteen

preaches prosperity.

 

We love Houston the way a car loves to speed,

more than the man who raced past a house

with his gun, splitting the

skulls of two kid brothers.

 

Jensen Drive is where sleazy men go

for a good time. If caught, they go

downtown to the jail on Bagby Street

where they can see the Aquarium from their cells.

The sharks wiggle around in their too small tank

as a child points up at their jaws. His mother pulls

him close, closer than Andrea Yates who drowned

her five kids in a bathtub.

 

Yet we love Houston the way mosquitoes

love sucking on our skin, the way the big oil

tycoons love their mansions in River Oaks.

 

Southwest is the place where it can be scary

to sleep at night and even drive through during

the day, but if you keep going, you will

end up in the Museum District where

Mr. Sam Houston will greet you again.

 

We love Houston the way a con artist

loves counting money.

 

We love Houston the way a wife loves her husband

that she’s been married to for over twenty years.

She looks at him with squinted eyes, remembering

a time when he was younger, thinner, and stronger.

She loves him just the same today as she will tomorrow.

 

She loves him the way a Houstonian loves Houston.

 
My Top Ten Favorite Books: Darlene Campos

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

I read this book for the first time when I was about 13 years old. It’s about an immigrant family and all the hardships they experience as they create their new lives in America. It’s sad. This book made me weep for the characters. They’re a family trying to make ends meet yet it seems like the whole world is against them. I honestly wonder why we don’t have a movie version of this book. There was one made a long time, in silent movie form, but it has since been lost through history. It needs a movie soon.

I heard about this book for a few years, but I didn’t read it until I was in college. It was recommended to me by my creative writing professor and I’m so glad she took the time to recommend it. Just like ‘The Jungle,’ it’s a sad book. The family struggles with money and Arnold, the main character, knows there is something better for him. Despite everything, Arnold makes it through. While this book is very sad in certain parts, it’s also one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Alexie can make you cry in one chapter and have you laughing until your belly hurts in the next.

Exile by Padraic O’Conaire

This is another book I read in college and it was an assigned reading for my Irish Literature class. I had never heard of this writer nor had I heard of this book. This is one of the best adventures stories I’ve ever encountered. Each page was gripping – I could not put the book down for any reason at all. I wish ‘Exile’ had more publicity because it’s just that good. This book needs a movie, too.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Unlike the books I mentioned above, this is a memoir, so it’s nonfiction. I just read it last year after years of wanting to read it. I found a copy at a used book sale for just 75 cents. This is one of the most compelling life stories I’ve ever read, right after Frank McCourt’s ‘Angela’s Ashes.’ I found myself cheering and crying for Walls and her family, even for her parents who are not your average parents at all. I could feel myself right in the story with Walls, as if I was a guest in her life and she was personally showing me around. It only took me two days to read this book and I’m so happy I did.

Big Fish by Daniel Wallace

One of my favorite movies is ‘Big Fish.’ I saw it in the movie theater a few days after it came out and I was blown away by how beautiful the story was. Edward Bloom’s life is riveting both on the big screen and in the book. The book has more fantasy elements than the movie. I am NOT a fantasy literature fan, but this book somehow grabbed me right away. If Daniel Wallace made a fan of someone who hates fantasy books, you know this is good.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

R.J. Palacio’s ‘Wonder’ is a children’s novel, but I believe everyone, including adults, should take the time to read it. Auggie Pullman is your average kid – he loves Star Wars, he goes to school, he wants to make friends, and he loves his pet dog. The only thing that makes Auggie different from his peers is his rare medical facial deformity condition, yet the bullies around school focus on this one thing about him. They don’t see his humor, his kind heart, or his intelligence – just that his face looks different. The feature film comes out later this year and I hope it stays true to the book. It’s a huge lesson everyone needs to learn.

Maus (I & II) by Art Spiegelman

I’m a history buff, especially when it comes to World War II history. My brother recommended I read this book because it wasn’t like other history books – it was a true story told in graphic novel form. The ‘Maus’ series surrounds the lives of Spiegelman’s parents, mostly his father. Spiegelman listened to his father tell his story of being forced into a ghetto by the Nazis and then being taken to Auschwitz where death is always hanging by the door. The drawings are simple black and white graphics, but this is more than sufficient since the story is hard to put down.

If Anne Frank had survived the Holocaust, I wonder what else she would’ve written. I visited the Secret Annex years ago, which is where Frank hid for about two years. Can you imagine hiding in fear in such a small place for such a long time? Frank’s diary isn’t just any diary – it’s a piece of history which has taught the world what happens when hate takes over love. Frank wanted to be a professional writer after the war. Even though she died so young, she left her mark on the world as a writer, just how she planned. This book, like ‘Wonder,’ is one every person needs to read.

Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite writers. He was so talented and a big shot in his time. When I visited San Antonio last December, I found out he’d stayed in the hotel I booked. I immediately found the room’s location and snapped a picture. ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ has some of the most beautiful lines I’ve ever read – they make Hallmark cards look like a pile of crap. Wilde was a prolific writer. He only lived to be 46 years old, yet he made the most of these years with all of his works.

Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

This book was part of a summer reading list when I was in middle school. As much as I loved to read when I was younger, I hated assigned readings - I think it’s part of my ‘don’t tell me what to do’ attitude. Anyway, this book was on the list and it was one of the shorter ones, so I picked it. I got so into the book that I read it in a day and a half. The imagery was rich, the story was interesting, and the characters felt so real, it was as if I knew them personally. This is a beautiful book and I’m thankful it was an assigned reading or else I may have never discovered it on my own.
 
Darlene Campos Pens A Love Letter To Houston

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

Houston.

It’s the city my parents settled in almost 27 years ago. It’s the place where I was born, the place I was fortunate to grow up in, the place where I went to college, and the place where I still live today.

How long does it take you to get to work in the morning? It takes me just a few minutes because I’m lucky to live close by - but at my former job, it took me almost two hours. And it was only sixteen miles away. What can I say? Morning traffic.

How big is Houston? My boyfriend lives about an hour away from me. If I drive to his place from mine, I still wouldn’t reach George Bush Intercontinental Airport because I would need to drive even further. IT'S THAT BIG.

And, it’s getting bigger. More people have moved here. The traffic is worse. But it’s still home. For me, Houston will always be home.

It’s home because of its rich diversity. If I want Korean food for breakfast, Lebanese for lunch, and Cuban for dinner, it’s totally possible in Houston. There are 145 languages spoken here. There are Cuban festivals, Palestinian festivals, Japanese festivals, Greek festivals, African festivals – more than you can think of. And we all love Houston just the same.

It’s home because of its love for the literary world. Inprint brings writers like Sandra Cisneros, George Saunders, and Ann Patchett. WITS hires writers to teach creative writing in public schools, prisons, and hospitals. Brazos Bookstore, Blue Willow Bookshop, Becker’s Books, and Kaboom Books are just a handful of indie bookstores Houston has to offer.

It’s home because of its museums. The Houston Museum of Natural Science once had the Magna Carta, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston brought Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night and the Health Museum is now hosting Bodyworlds. The Children’s Museum is a giant building where kids have loads of fun and they learn without even noticing. The Holocaust Museum educates and pierces your heart no matter how many times you go. We have over 150 museums here. We love learning and learning loves us.

It’s home when I’m stuck in traffic.

It’s home when I get the finger, even though I was the one who got cut off.

It’s home when I can’t find a parking spot at Hermann because I was dumb enough to go on a Saturday afternoon.

It’s home when the news says there’s been another shooting, another kidnapping, another robbery, another child missing.

It’s home when the Texas Medical Center and the oil industries announce more layoffs.

It’s home when I drive by the big “We Love Houston” sign off I-10.

No matter what happens.

Houston is my home.

Full Cover Revealed For 'Behind Mount Rushmore'

BY: STAFF

The much-anticipated cover art for Darlene Campos' debut novel, Behind Mount Rushmore, was revealed today on Twitter.

Here's a better view:

Behind Mount Rushmore follows the story of Nimo Thunderclap as he lives life on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and will be available for pre-order on April 14.

Full Cover Release Date For 'Behind Mount Rushmore'

BY: STAFF

 

Earlier this month, we revealed a sneak preview of the cover for Behind Mount Rushmore when Darlene Campos dropped her Spotify playlist, which featured that infamous blue-and-white truck (if you haven't had a chance to check out her amazing playlist, be sure to listen below).

Tomorrow, March 31st, we will finally reveal the full cover for her debut novel which is set to release on May 19th. A description for the novel is posted below:


‘Behind Mount Rushmore’ is a story of survival, family, love and humor on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Nimo Thunderclap is a young boy living there where life is tough, but wonderful. No matter what life throws at him, he can take it - or can he?
 

Pre-orders will begin on April 14th.

Darlene Campos Spent Six Years Researching For 'Behind Mount Rushmore'

BY: STAFF

 

We sat down with Darlene Campos to discuss her book, some of its characters and the significance of the title, Behind Mount Rushmore.


Explain the significance of the title.

A: I remember learning about Mount Rushmore when I was in fifth grade. I learned it was in South Dakota, specifically in the Black Hills, and of course I learned about the faces that make Mount Rushmore – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. However, it wasn’t until my freshman year in college that I learned about Pine Ridge Indian Reservation from one of my history professors. He showed us a presentation about the reservation and told us about the poverty, the alcoholism, the teacher turnover rate, etc. Until then, I had no idea Pine Ridge Indian Reservation even existed. How could this be possible when Pine Ridge is located, in my professor’s words, “just behind Mount Rushmore?” Since many have heard about Mount Rushmore, I knew using its name in the title would make the book stand out. The word “behind” lets the reader know the book is focusing not on Mount Rushmore, but what’s going on behind it.

 

What made you choose a Native American reservation as the main setting of the story?

A: I must admit that before taking the history class I mentioned above, I knew very little about Native Americans. This was quite a shame because I have a large percentage of South American indigenous roots in my family. I feel like I should have known at least a little something about indigenous people, especially the indigenous people of Ecuador, which is where my parents are from. Anyway, all I knew about the Native population of the United States was basic information I learned in elementary school: They helped the pilgrims. They grew corn. Squanto spoke English. They live on reservations. When my professor gave us that first presentation, my interest in the Native community sparked. I started learning more about Pine Ridge and more about the Lakota tribe in general. After this history class was over, I took a Native American literature class the following semester and I was frustrated because we were assigned nothing but old Westerns. The texts were very outdated and stereotypical. My professor claimed there wasn't literature featuring contemporary Native Americans and I thought, "Well, you're obviously not looking hard enough." At the advice of a creative writing professor, I became inspired to write my own book after reading the works of Sherman Alexie, Vic Glover, Adrian C. Louis, Mary Crow Dog, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Louise Erdrich. My literature professor was wrong – there were lots of contemporary novels featuring Native people available.

There are many elements I find appealing about the Native community such as close-knit family life, traditions, and humor. These are elements I enjoy with my own family, so it was lovely to see the similarities. While writing this book, I read several novels with contemporary Native American characters written by Native authors and some by non-Native authors. In 2012, I had the opportunity to have lunch with Sherman Alexie, thanks to my college. He told me as long as I made sure my writing was good, I should be okay as a writer. I also attended numerous pow wows and spoke with Native Americans about their day to day lives. This was the most fun in my opinion. You can read all the books in the world, but the best learning experience is immersion. 

In total, I spent about six years researching to make sure I didn't stereotype or misrepresent the Native community in the United States. As a minority myself, I know how much it hurts to be stereotyped, so I definitely didn't want to write one of those outdated Westerns my professor assigned. It’s a tricky thing to write about a culture you didn’t grow up in, but with sufficient research from the right sources, it can be done. I DO NOT recommend writing outside your culture without researching first – you’re going to mess up badly, trust me.

 

In this political climate where immigration continues to be a hot-button issue, how important was it to discuss the mistreatment of Native Americans throughout their history and into present day?

A: The treatment of the Native Americans in the United States has a long history of despair, betrayal, and genocide. After going through massive tragedies like Wounded Knee, Sand Creek, and the Kingsley Cave Massacre, the Natives who survived had to endure boarding schools where they were forbidden to be in touch with their culture. They weren’t allowed to speak their Native language, allowed to practice their religion, and do anything which stemmed from their upbringing. Some Native children were very young when they were forced into boarding schools and when they returned home, they did not remember how to speak their Native language and could not communicate with their family members anymore. Then, you bring in more injustice such as the fact that Natives were not even considered citizens of their land and could not vote until 1924. Their voting rights were not extended to all 50 states until 1965. They did not have full freedom of speech and expression protection until 1968. They could not practice their Native language in schools until 1990. On top of all of this legislation, they had to (and still do) deal with racism, misrepresentation, and stereotypes in the media. Right now, they are protesting the Dakota Pipeline - in 2017! When will enough be enough? The biggest issue is how they are and have been disrespected and nearly destroyed in their own home. Imagine not only being disrespected, but having everything taken from you and huge numbers of your relatives murdered and your culture nearly obliterated. The Natives in the United States are strong – no matter the odds they have faced, they are still here today. History has a habit of repeating itself. I say we repeat the good parts of history and leave the bad parts behind. But, the only way to do this is by educating this generation and the next.

 

What in particular do you want readers to take from your characters and their interactions with others? Is there anything you hope resonates beyond just the characters themselves?

A: The main purpose of writing Behind Mount Rushmore was to show readers that Natives are still here – they are so much more than the old Western movies you see on TV. More so, I wanted to show the positive. As I said earlier, my heritage is Ecuadorian. I can’t express how irritated it makes me when I see a travel show go to Ecuador and they only show the slums and the crime. They don’t show families eating and laughing together. They don’t show the rich history of the cities. Yes, there is poverty in Behind Mount Rushmore. There is also death. There is racism. But above all of these instances, there is love, friendship, and humor. As for going beyond the characters, I want the reader to see Native people as people first – not as a stereotype, not as exotic, not as weird, just as people. When we start to see other populations as people equal to us, this is when we are able to change our perspectives from negative to positive.

 

Are these characters based on people you know?

A: Some traits are based on people I know. Nimo’s father says a few lines my mom has said in real life. The humor in the story is heavily based on my mother, too. My parents divorced when I was 14 and my household became a single-parent household virtually overnight. There were times when food was scarce and there were many sleepless nights due to there not being much money in the bank. These were hard times. There’s a part in the book when Nimo says he has to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all the time because it’s a cheap meal. I had to do this at one point myself and let me tell you – as much as I love peanut butter, I HATED peanut butter during that time. However, we survived with humor. I remember one evening years ago when I was sitting at home with my mom and we were talking about something, I don’t remember what. We laughed and laughed throughout the conversation and then she said, “The devil must be so mad at us. We don’t have much money, he wants us to be sad, but we’re here laughing.” Since I survived with humor, it was easy to place humor into Nimo’s life. The medical aspects of the story are based on my father who is a physician. I grew up seeing himself in a white lab coat and hearing him talk about surgeries. He’d talk about his co-doctors and new innovations happening in the medicine field. The medical world is very close to my heart – I knew I had to include it somewhere in the book.

 

Discuss how Nimo interacts with those closest to him such as his family and friends? How do these interactions enrich his character and theirs?

A: Nimo’s a shy kid – he lives on a huge reservation, yet he doesn’t really have many friends. When it comes to friends, he listens. He might not express everything he’s thinking out loud, but he has open ears to anyone who talks to him, even the infamous Ray Firebird! In regards to his family, he’s more comfortable opening up to them, especially to his father. When Nimo talks to his father, he not only learns about his father, but his father in turn learns about him. The same happens when Nimo speaks to his mother. Just by talking to their son, Nimo’s parents build a strong relationship with him. Since his parents are deeply involved in his life, Nimo grows to appreciate and love his parents even more. Now, if it wasn’t for John David, Nimo’s best friend, who knows where Nimo would be? Nimo’s very hesitant, too. He needs John David’s metaphorical pushes to succeed. In turn, John David has Nimo as his closest source of trust. I feel that all the characters need each other in some form, even the ones who don’t get along.

 

Many themes are touched on regarding sexuality, race, income disparity and others. What made you choose these constructs over others and how do they all intersect?

A: I chose these issues specifically because I believe they are issues which deserve greater awareness and reading a book with characters a reader connects to is a way to accomplish this. Income disparity is a big issue because there’s this idea that the poor are poor because they don’t work hard enough, they want handouts, they’re entitled, etc. It’s the same with a lot of other issues. I’ve heard people say the LGBT community should ‘just snap out of it.’ I’ve even heard some people say racism is over and that it ended with the Civil Rights Movement. This is just plain ignorance. In fact, the last time someone called me a racial slur to my face was in 2015. These issues need attention and education so we can fix them. Once you learn about people who are different than you on a personal level, it becomes harder to hate and easier to love. When we generalize people, it’s so easy to think, “Yes, those people are dangerous” or “Yes, those people are wrong and we are right.” The truth is we are all equal and we can all connect to each other. It’s just a matter of putting love over hate.

 

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

A: The answer, hands-down, is Jay Eagle Thunderclap AKA “Ate,” Nimo’s dad. Years ago, in the first drafts, Nimo was a baby and the story was told from an omniscient narrator. The narrator shared the day to day lives of the Thunderclap couple and their baby son. However, Jay Eagle was not the same person he is now. In fact, he was booooooooooooooring. Instead of cracking jokes and having his devil-may-care attitude, he would sit around on his porch and share vague words of wisdom with everyone who passed by. Eventually, I thought, “Wow, you are so boring. I either need to kill you off or massively change you.” Thankfully, I’m not George R.R. Martin. So, I decided to keep Jay Eagle and drastically change his character to who he is now. I can’t imagine Jay Eagle not being in Behind Mount Rushmore. Here’s a word of advice to aspiring writers – if you think your character is boring, your reader will think the same. Back when I was submitting the standalone chapters to journals, most of them said “We love this story! The dad is amazing!”

A close second favorite character is Ray Firebird. You know that person who always interrupts you when you’re busy? The one you pretend NOT to see when you run across them? That’s Ray Firebird. We all know Ray Firebird. If you don’t, you are Ray Firebird.

 

Do you see yourself in Nimo at all? If so, how so?

A: Yes, definitely. He’s fairly shy and doesn’t open up easily just like me. He only confides in a small circle of people. And, of course, he’s an aspiring writer. He has a best friend he deeply cares for and I did, too, back in the day. I don’t know what she’s up to now, but I wish her the best. The relationship he has with his mother is about the same as the one I have with mine. His relationship with his father is where we differ greatly. I’m not saying I had a terrible father. My father was and still is a very hardworking man. He came from an impoverished family of ten children, but he dreamed of being a doctor someday and he made his dream come true with his strong determination. I admire him for never giving up despite the situation. As a kid, I had everything I needed like clothes, food, a place to live, and I got to go on trips to Europe every year for my father’s medical conferences. Having a doctor for a father is not easy. My father was almost never home and he didn’t know much about me, not even the grade I was in. He didn’t know the names of my best friends or the names of my teachers. After my parents divorced, I didn’t talk to him or see him for several months. He wanted me to follow in his medical footsteps even though I told him many times that I wanted to be a writer. Nimo has a solid, loving relationship with his father. The reason why I did this is because it’s my imagination of what a good father-child relationship is like. I wish my father was like Jay Eagle, but life is what it is. Nimo is definitely a lot worse off financially as a young child than I was, but there is no amount of money that can buy you a close relationship with your parents. Nimo’s riches lie with his family.

 

If there's one thing you want the reader to take away from reading your book, what is it?

A: Laugh every single day – make the devil mad at you.

Authors Interviewing Authors | Cheryl & Darlene

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

 

DC: What inspired you to write your first book?

CD: Well, my first book is still in the works. It’s collection of short stories so I was inspired to write this book by a lot of things. A lot of the stories are about personal awakenings, that coming of age that happens at various ages and phases of life. I wanted to communicate these epiphanies. 

DC: Are you working on anything right now?

CD: I am currently still working on the collection. I am workshopping a few of the stories at the Chicago Writers Studio. I also write a blog called “Who’s Invited?” that is featured on ChicagoNow, Chicago Tribune’s blog site.

 

DC: Do you have a writing playlist? Who are your favorite musical artists to listen to while you write?

CD: I don't have a writing playlist. I actually prefer quiet when I write, I'd spend too much time singing along with the songs and not enough time writing. I will however immerse myself in music that creates a mood and puts me in a headspace. I’ll listen to it during times when I'm not writing. I'll listen to it in the car, in the shower, on a run, etc. 

DC: Do you have a writing drink/food of choice?

CD: I love iced lemon water in a bulbous red wine glass. 

DC: If you could have dinner with any of the characters in your first book, who would it be and why?

CD: None of them! They have been living in my head so long that I need a break from them. But I think I would like to take Jordan from “The Melting of Armor” out for lunch.

DC: If you could build a piece of IKEA furniture with any one of your characters, who would it be?

CD: I prefer doing it myself unless my husband is around. He has all the fancy tools.

ikea.jpg
 

DC: Do you outline your works first or do you just start writing away?

CD: Depends. If there’s something that I just have to get out, I’ll just write. But generally, I outline the stories first to see where the story is going and to try make sure that it gets there, but of course things change so much from outline to finished work. 

DC: If you had the chance to visit with your favorite writer, how would you spend your day with them? Alive or dead? 

CD: Dead - I'd sit and talk with Zora Neale Hurston, laugh with Langston Hughes. Alive - I'd have coffee/tea with Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. 

DC: Stephen King once said you have to kill your darlings - how many darlings have you killed so far? How do you decide who lives and who dies?

CD: I haven't kept track of the death toll, but as a hardcore Game of Thrones fan, I do understand the concept! The characters that meet their demise on the page do so because it is their time, whether I like it or not.

Darlene Campos Reveals Why She Included The Roseanne Theme On Her Spotify Playlist

BY: DARLENE CAMPOS

On Monday, we shared the playlist for Darlene Campos' Behind Mount Rushmore, featuring 21 songs inspired by the book. Those songs were selected by Darlene herself, and below, we feature the reasons she selected those songs.

 
 

Keith Secola – NDN Kars

This is one of my favorite rock songs. It pertains to the story of an “NDN Kar,” which is an old clunker that’s falling apart but it still runs. The lyrics and melody are so catchy – you’ll be singing this song in your head for days!
 

Keith Secola – Say Your Name

Unlike “NDN Kars,” this song has a much sadder tone to its lyrics and rhythm and the reason is because it’s about the history of Native American boarding schools. Years ago, it was legal (yes, legal!) to take Native children from their homes and families and put them in boarding schools. These boarding schools were meant to kill off Native culture by forbidding the children to speak their native language, practice their religion, and practice their traditions. This is an ode to those children and their descendants. As Secola says, “preserve our children.”
 

Robbie Robertson – Peyote Healing

Sung in Lakota by Verdell Primeaux and Johnny Mike and produced by Robbie Robertson, this is a healing song as its title states. The lyrics call out to “Ate,” which is the Lakota word for “Father.” In this instance, “Father” is God and the song asks for health restoration. I first heard this song in the movie Skins, based off the novel of the same name by Adrian C. Louis. As soon as I heard it, I was inspired to write more in ‘Behind Mount Rushmore.’
 

The Cody Blackbird Band – Tribal Blues

I’ve been following Cody Blackbird and his band for the last couple of years. Blackbird is Eastern Band Cherokee and Roma descent. He’s fairly young, too, I believe in his late 20s. He won Flutist of the Year in 2011 at the Native American Music Awards (NAMA). This is my favorite track by him – you can really feel his talent for flute playing in this song.
 

Robert Tree Cody – Lakota Love Song

Cody is the adopted son of the actor Iron Eyes Cody. He is of Dakota Sioux and Maricopa descent. When writing ‘Behind Mount Rushmore,’ I wanted to make sure I focused on love, especially the love between Nimo’s parents. Love is a feeling all of us human beings crave and I feel that this song, even though it has no words, captures the emotion of love for another.
 

Lakota Thunder – Looking For My Friend

Lakota Thunder is an awesome, Grammy-nominated band. This song is especially important because of the friendship Nimo shares with John David. If you listen closely to the song, you will hear the word “kola.” The Lakota word for a man’s friend is “kola,” but kola means more than just friend. As defined by Lakota language teacher Sam High Crane (his lectures are on YouTube and totally worth checking out if you want to learn some Lakota!), the word kola means a friend you would be willing to give your life for to save his. John David is undoubtedly Nimo’s kola and Nimo is John David’s kola in return.
 
 

Robert Tree Cody – Lakota Lullaby

Back when ‘Behind Mount Rushmore’ was its earliest drafts, the point of view was an omniscient narrator and Nimo was only a six-month-old baby. His parents sang him their own version of this soothing lullaby. However, once the drafts changed, Nimo began telling the story and surely, he wouldn’t remember his baby life. Even though this lullaby isn’t mentioned in the book, it remains as a huge musical influence for ‘Behind Mount Rushmore.’
 

Judas Priest – Breaking the Law

One of Jay Eagle Thunderclap’s favorite bands is Judas Priest. In “The Clash,” he is observed grilling turkey meat while blasting Judas Priest on his personal radio. I don’t know which song he was blasting, but it was probably this one.
 

David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust

This is one of my favorite David Bowie songs because it tells a story from beginning to end in just over three minutes. In “The Fork,” Nimo and John David head to Rapid City to see a David Bowie tribute band called The Mars Spiders, a name which is taken from this song specifically.
 

David Bowie – Let’s Dance

This tune is the tune which comes on at George’s in the second to final chapter of the book. Since the full details contain spoilers, I won’t say much about its importance.
 

Madonna – Into the Groove

Nimo’s a big Madonna fan, but John David is not – in fact, this is probably the only interest they don’t share. Madonna plays a major role in the one of the chapters, but again, this is a spoiler alert. My lips are sealed on this one as well.
 

Sonny and Cher – I Got You Babe

I was introduced to this song by a former professor during my freshman year of college. We watched the movie Groundhog Day in class which infamously uses this song about a billion times. As I created Jay Eagle and Josephine’s characters, this song was endlessly stuck in my head thanks to that professor! I feel this song describes their marriage down to a T. There are times when the Thunderclaps don’t have much, but they have each other and they’re not letting go.
 

Lakota Thunder – Lakota Hoksila

This is another great song by Lakota Thunder. Its title means “Lakota Boy” which applies to Nimo throughout the entire novel. He might grow up in the novel, but he remains a Lakota boy at the core of his heart.
 

Sacred Spirit – Yeha Noha

This song is a rendition of a traditional song from the Navajo Shoe Game. This specific version is sung by the Navajo elder Kee Chee Jake. Even though it is a Navajo song, I listened to this song many times while writing Behind Mount Rushmore to some creative sparks on. The full story of the Navajo Shoe Game is told on YouTube by the user DayBreakWarrior.
 

Will Peters – Memorial Song

Death is a process we all must go through. Nimo experiences the death of a relative and he laments the deaths of other relatives he never got to meet. This song is for those relatives.
 

Buddy Red Bow – South Dakota Lady

Josephine Thunderclap, Nimo’s mother, is definitely a South Dakota Lady. She’s strong, she’s loving, she’s hardworking, and most of all, she doesn’t put up with nonsense. If Jay Eagle was a real person, I can imagine him singing this song to his South Dakota lady.
 

'All in the Family' Theme

All in the Family is a show the Thunderclaps watch a lot because I watched it (actually, I watched the series) while forming the early chapters. This isn’t the original theme sung by Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, but it’ll do. In fact, when ‘Behind Mount Rushmore ‘was only a few chapters long, I visited Los Angeles for the first time and I had the opportunity to visit Carroll O’Connor’s grave while I was there. If it wasn’t for Carroll O’Connor’s Archie Bunker character, ‘Behind Mount Rushmore’ would not be the same.
 

'Roseanne' Theme

Roseanne is a show I grew up watching, but I never fully understood its weight until adulthood. It’s a pivotal show for its portrayal of the working class and their struggles with money, but it also shows their deep love and humor. Jay Eagle and Josephine Thunderclap’s marriage was greatly inspired by Dan and Roseanne Conner’s marriage.
 

The Magnetic Fields – The Book of Love

This song is dedicated to John David’s character. He’s a tough guy when it comes to showing emotions, but he falls in love, too.
 

Northern Cree – Thank God I’m an Indian Boy

While this song is sung by members of the Cree tribe, it certainly applies to Nimo. No matter what happens to him on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, he’s proud of his heritage and his ancestors.
 

Robbie Robertson – Cherokee Morning Song

This is another Robbie Robertson production sung by Rita Coolidge. Coolidge is one of the founding members of Walela, which means hummingbird in Cherokee. I’m NOT a morning person at all. If I could hit my alarm’s snooze button more than once, I would, but I can’t be late for work! This song somehow awakens me with its peaceful tones. It does not only awaken my body, but it also awakens my mind for some more writing.

Behind Mount Rushmore will be available everywhere books are sold on May 19.

The Official Soundtrack for "Behind Mount Rushmore"

BY: STAFF

We asked Darlene Campos to curate a Spotify playlist for her book, Behind Mount Rushmore and she selected 21 incredible songs featuring David Bowie, Madonna, Judas Priest and a bevy of Native American artists.

You can listen to the entire soundtrack below or on Spotify.


Behind Mount Rushmore will be available everywhere books are sold on May 19.

Debut Novel for Darlene Campos Gets Release Date

BY: STAFF

Vital Narrative's newest signee Darlene Campos will finally release her much anticipated debut, Behind Mount Rushmore on May 19.

I remember learning about Mount Rushmore when I was in fifth grade. I learned it was in South Dakota, specifically in the Black Hills, and of course I learned about the faces that make Mount Rushmore – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. However, it wasn’t until my freshman year in college that I learned about Pine Ridge Indian Reservation from one of my history professors. He showed us a presentation about the reservation and told us about the poverty, the alcoholism, the teacher turnover rate, etc. Until then, I had no idea Pine Ridge Indian Reservation even existed, but I knew a lot about Mount Rushmore. How could this be possible when Pine Ridge is located, in my professor’s words, “just behind Mount Rushmore?” Since many have heard about Mount Rushmore, I knew using its name in the title would make the book stand out. The word “behind” lets the reader know the book is focusing not on Mount Rushmore, but what’s going on behind it.
— Darlene Campos

Behind Mount Rushmore follows the life of Geronimo "Nimo" Thunderclap as he grows up on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. "It was important to me for Vital Narrative Press to be the company that brings this novel to light," Founder & CEO Gregory Hedgepeth II said. "The very first time I read it, I was completely blown away. I literally stopped everything I was doing, cancelled all the appointments I had scheduled for that day and spent it reading her book. It's THAT good. We really can't wait to share this project with you." Pre-orders for Behind Mount Rushmore will begin on April 14.