Gloria Garcia Diaz was still struggling to learn English years ago when she read Fort Collins author Laura Resau’s first book, What the Moon Saw. As a student in Resau’s English as a Second Language class, Diaz developed a friendship with her teacher. “I saw a special spark in her,” Resau said.
It took months for Diaz to struggle through the book, word by word but she persisted because she was so drawn to the story. She related closely to the main character who made a trip back to Mexico from the U.S. to visit family she’d never met, something Diaz could not do. “I was so inspired by the book,” Diaz said.
She has always loved books and remembers her father riding the bus to work in Mexico City, holding onto a strap with one hand and using the other to hold the book he was reading. He played the guitar and sang and passed his sense of rhythm and love of language on to his daughter. Diaz’s parents died when she was 9, leaving her and her three sisters to raise themselves. She has worked in Mexico and the U.S. as a housekeeper and field worker and has recently been working toward her GED. She’s a poet and essayist and has had an essay accepted for publication in Matter Journal, based in Fort Collins.
Resau is the author of eight young adult and children’s books and is nationally known for titles such as Red Glass, Ocean in a Saucer, The Queen of Water, Lightning Queen and the Notebook series: the Indigo, Jade and Ruby Notebooks. Her work has earned an International Reading Association young-adult fiction award and an Americas award. Inspired by her travels, study as a cultural anthropologist and experience as a teacher, her stories deal with issues of immigration and indigenous peoples. She donates part of her royalties to non-profits in Central America.
In 2010 Resau’s book,Star in the Forest, was published by Random House and sub-rights were bought by Scholastic Press resulting in widespread exposure in schools across the country. The story is set in a fictional version of Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park and the main character and narrator, inspired by Diaz, is a young girl dealing with the deportation of her father. Diaz and several of her friends and relatives provided Resau with many of the small cultural details that make the book come alive. Now fluent in English, Diaz read the book quickly and easily. She felt a strong desire to share it with her friends.
Resau had hoped to see the book translated into Spanish through traditional channels but when that did not materialize, she approached Diaz to do the job. Resau is fluent in Spanish and could have translated her own work, but she felt as a native speaker, Diaz could do a more authentic job. “Gloria has a rhythm and sense of language. I knew she would do a fine job.”
The process took about a year. Diaz translated a few pages at a time, then Resau put her words on the computer. They met frequently to discuss their work. Sometimes Resau would question the use or meaning of a word and then they’d talk about it and together decide on what worked best.
The project was somewhat of a risk. They spent hundreds of hours on the project with no assurance that it would be accepted for publication. They were elated when Scholastic agreed to publish Estrella en el bosque. It arrived on book shelves on the last day of August and is available at local bookstores and on Amazon.
Their collaboration has been so successful that Resau and Diaz are now working on Happy Mamas, a picture book in both Spanish and English focused on mother and child bonding. Both of them are parents of young children.