Both Regina Moya’s writing and her life are a blend of two cultures. Her childhood in Mexico City was interrupted by a period of living in Philadelphia from the age of two to six. This was the perfect age to become fluent in both Spanish and English, and to absorb some of the culture of America. Fast forward to 2003, and a six-month to one-year project in San Antonio has turned into 13 years to date. Now she is happily ensconced in her King William home with her husband, Juan Fernandez, and their three children.
Growing up, it fell to Regina, the second of five children and one of 30 grandchildren, to organize the holiday posadas created to entertain their family. She used her rich imagination to write the dialogue, full of humor and often containing parodies of her elders. Regina went on to study communication and to earn a Masters degree in literature and creative writing. She wrote her first novel when she was 20 years old. She announced to her family that she had written it, but was not going to let them read it yet. She registered it in Mexico, but did not pursue publishing it.
Three years later, at her wedding, her father surprised her by announcing a secret about Regina that he was going to reveal. While packing up her belongings for the move to her new home, her parents found the manuscript she had hidden. They really liked the story. To her great surprise, they found a publisher for the book, and her father presented the printed Memorias de dos mujeres mexicanas to her at the reception. She told me that she read it over and over during her honeymoon and told herself that she needed to write.
Regina began to have an interest in children’s literature. She took classes to learn illustrating as well as painting. She was fortunate to meet Lina Cuartas, a children’s book author and illustrator who was born in Columbia but now lives in San Antonio. Lina took Regina under her wing and taught her illustration. Regina also took classes at the Southwest School of Art and at Gemini Ink. While perfecting her skills, she participated in the Writers in Communities (WIC) program sponsored by Gemini Ink. She was able to teach writing and painting to migrant children in detention, to kids in juvenile detention, to high school dropouts and to incarcerated, pregnant moms, among others.
After a 10-year break from novel writing, Regina set herself a deadline to start a book. It was just before...
a Thanksgiving when she was preparing for a big dinner for family arriving from Mexico. Swamped and frustrated, she finally got inspiration for a character for a story. Eventually she put herself in the book as the main character. The resulting book, intended for an adult audience, is in the style of magic realism. She drew the colorful illustration for the cover. It is available in Spanish, and an English edition will soon be completed.
If you haven’t met Regina in the neighborhood yet, I hope you will soon. She is grateful to her King William neighbors for embracing her family and for their support of her writing. Her enthusiasm for writing, illustration and painting can light up a room. Be sure to pick up a copy of Turkey Day and get a taste of the Mexican/American Thanksgiving tradition.
- Nora Peterson