Rosa Martha Villarreal, born in Texas, is descended from several Spanish founding families of early colonies in Northern Mexico in the 1500s. Viallrreal began her college education initially a pre-med major at San Jose State University in California. Eventually she received undergraduate degrees in Botany and English as well as a Masters Degree in English, having changed her college major under the influence of a professor who recognized her abilities as a writer. Villarreal began to establish herself as a writer with the production of her short story The Mendel of Hidalgo which was awarded the Phelan Literary Award from San Jose State University as well as being published in Sabine Magazine. In 1995 she published a novella Doctor Magdalena. A second book was published in 1999, Chronicles of Air and Dreams. In 2003, with An H. Nguyen, and Bernardo Salinas, she co-founded Tertulia Magazine with the intention of providing a forum for publishing the work of talented independent writers and artists. This journal received enough attention and was able to publish enough that the founders went on to create Tertulia Press in 2006. Its first published book was The Stillness of Love and Exile, Villarreal's third novel, which came out in 2007. In addition to her career as a professional author, Villarreal is an adjunct professor at Cosumnes River College. She currently lives near Sacramento and remains very active in writing and literature, especially literature associated with the Hispanic culture throughout California and the southwest.
Doctor Magdalena (1995)
This novella tells the story of a female doctor who travels within space in order to resurrect indigenous American healing practices.
Chronicles of Air and Dreams (1999)
Villarreal's second novel is about an American archeologist who, while excavating inside a Mayan pyramid, is trapped there for several day by an earthquake. She is rescued unhurt but seems initially to have been deranged by the event and is no longer able to communicate intelligently. The reality is that something strange has happened to her and she is only able to speek in an unknown ancient dialect. In her isolation, she retreats into a world of dreams where she encounters the spirit of Martin Cortés, the bastard son of Hernan Cortés, the conqueror of Aztec Mexico. Eventually she and her loved ones are possessed by unavenged, centuries-old ghosts of Cortés's interpreter Malintzín, Cortés, and Malintzín's younger son. These possessing spirits then use the bodies they have taken control of to reenact their violent ancient quarrels. The archeologist is eventually able to make sense of her dreams and in doing so reveals an ancient Mayan legend with ties to a deeply held secret of her own family.
The Stillness of Love and Exile (2007)
The story fo a beautiful young Mexican woman who is raped and then shamed into a loveless and abusive marriage where she is trapped for six years. Eventually she gains the strength to leave and she flees to Hidalto to live in hiding with her grandfather. The author continues her use of supernatural magical realism devices in this novel. They function as part of the coping strategy that enables her heroine to recover and find herself again. When she is able to love again though she finds herself torn between two men who share many similar qualities. Eventually the young woman is able to find peace within herself. The book also notable for the author's detailed descriptions of life in small-town Mexico and the blending the two worlds or rural, almost primitive isolated Mexico with the modern Mexico of cell phones.
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