In an ironic turn of events, my novel Lucia Zarate: The Odyssey of the Smallest Woman in the World, is in competition against literary giant Arturo Pérez-Reverte for first place in the historical fiction category of the 2017 International Latino Book Awards. It’s becoming a modern-day David and Goliath match, a literary showdown between a seasoned lion and a scholarly underdog. The contrast is stark: In one corner is Pérez-Reverte, a giant best-seller, a contemporary Spanish author whose many novels have been turned into motion pictures and television series. In the other corner is me, a dedicated writer with award-winning novels, but still a wee minor player in the literary arena.
I’ve read many of Pérez-Reverte’s novels, and I’ve loved his complex plots and memorable characters. I’ve watched the movie versions of his novels, read his interviews, and admired his prodigious literary output. I’ve had nothing but admiration for his work—but like a mother bear with her cub, I’m becoming very protective of my diminutive Lucía Zárate. I don’t want Lucía to be dismissed like a pesky bee. I want my novel about her poignant life to stand tall, toe-to-toe, with the hugely successful Pérez-Reverte. I hope the judges read my novel’s reviews, which describe Lucía Zárate as “lyrical and riveting, crafted with admirable acumen, and polished to gem-like brilliance by a skilled wordsmith.”
As a former marriage and family therapist, I know that exhibiting good competitive traits is much healthier than harboring envy. I am grateful that my novel has reached this high level of recognition, I admire my opponent, and I am focused on the new opportunities this competition might bring my way. I will maintain a sense of decorum, and I will exhibit a positive attitude—but still—I sure hope to be the gracious winner of the award for Best Historical Novel 2017.