On the Shelf: Las Cruces author created book series for her ‘gente’

Community Reports

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – A Las Cruces author set New Mexico as the backdrop in her debut novel as a way to honor her heritage. Now she hopes people around the country can see New Mexico in a new light.

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Lydia Udero-Vaughan is an eighth-grade teacher in Las Cruces. Having been born and raised in Silver City, she attended New Mexico State University and said she fell in love with Las Cruces immediately and decided to make it her home.

Udero-Vaughan has enjoyed writing since she was in kindergarten, but it wasn’t until about six years ago that she decided to sit down and write her first novel, As I Battle Your Demons. “I was going through a lot at that time, and writing has always helped me get through things,” Udero-Vaughan said.

It was a concept she began working on a while back, but finding it inspired her to see how far she could take it. Finishing the book was the easy part, Udero-Vaughan said. What became a challenge was finding people within the industry to support her. “Trying to find an editor and a literary agent was the most difficult part. I didn’t quite get there but I got a lot of feedback and decided just to go for it myself,” Udero-Vaughan said.

She was met with her book receiving a lot of local attention, something she didn’t necessarily expect. Her book was number one on Amazon’s Best Seller’s list as a debut novel for a couple weeks and remained in the top five for a few weeks after that.

The tiresome process didn’t discourage her from writing. In fact, as she completes her follow-up book, she plans to continue searching for industry professionals to support her on her journey. “There’s so much beauty around us, I just want people to see that it truly is the Land of Enchantment,” Udero-Vaughan said.

When her main character needed more characterization, Udero-Vaughan decided to draw from her Mexican heritage in order to allow children to see themselves represented in a fictional book. “In a lot of stories that I read growing up, I didn’t really have anyone to look up to. There wasn’t anything really about New Mexico itself that was fictional. Everything was informational or a salt-of-the-earth kind of thing, so nothing for younger kids to be entertained by, so I decided I was going to do something for my people, for mi gente,” Udero-Vaughan said.

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