April 23, 2010

Behind the Book: Marcelo in the Real World + Giveaway!

"Behind the Book" explores the story behind certain 5-star books I have already read. This time it's a book that not only impressed me but touched me deeply. Francisco X. Stork is the genius behind this awesome piece of literature. Francisco was born in Mexico and came to live in Texas at age 9. This is an inspiration to those of us who aspire to be writers even if English is not our first language, because this book is "insanely well written"- quote from my review. See review here.

Photo of Francisco X. Stork by Tsar Fedorsky/Getty Images for Reed Business.

How did you come up with the story?
The initial novel was actually about Aurora, Marcelo’s mother. It was the story of a mother who loses her son and one year later discovers his journals. When I started writing the journals, I became very interested in Marcelo, the son. At that point, it was as if Marcelo was urging me to tell his story, and so I did.

Does it have to do with your life?
Marcelo in the Real World is not explicitly autobiographical although there are autobiographical elements in the story. I’ve worked in a number of law firms that are similar to the one in the book. I’ve also always had a deep, personal interest in the world’s religions, just like Marcelo.

How did you create Marcelo?
Ultimately, I think that the voice of a character is just given to you. Once I discovered his voice and his personality, I tried to think and feel and see the way someone like Marcelo would. I became Marcelo to a certain extent and I’m sure that there’s a lot of Marcelo in me.

What was your research process like?
Most of my research was on autism and Asperger’s syndrome. I read all the scholarly works as well as biographies and autobiographies of people with Asperger’s. I also interviewed a lot of kids. But the real research consisted in imagining someone like Marcelo and working hard at being him as much as possible.

How long did the book take to write?
I had many false starts where I had to rewrite the book so all told the process was about three years.

What other books influenced you?
Once I started writing the book, I stayed away from books with similar themes (i.e. other books about kids with autism or Asperger’s syndrome) because I didn’t want to be influenced.

How has the book changed your life so far?
The book has made me aware of the responsibilities that an author has to write with as much truth and beauty as he or she is capable. I have had so many e-mails and letters telling me how the book touched their lives that it is overwhelming to think about at times. I prefer to think that the book was a vehicle through which grace flowed into people’s lives.

Why do you write YA?
I didn’t start out to write YA. I started writing books about young people and YA publishers were the ones that became interested in the books. Now I think that there is a need for the kind of YA books that I am interested in writing and I feel that I’m in the right place.

What are your favorite books?
I read as much as possible of all kinds of books. Religious texts from all the world religions are some of my favorite. When I’m writing, I like to read authors who are extremely literary so that their good writing can rub off on me. I like Flannery O’Connor, Annie Dillard, John Updike, authors like these whom I can never hope to emulate - but it is still worth trying.

Name three YA books that you would call a must-read.
I think everyone should read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes; Mark Twain’s books, and J.D. Salinger’s short stories.

Muchas gracias Francisco!

Thanks to Francisco you can enter to win an autographed and personalized copy of Marcelo in the Real World.

  • Fill out the form below 
  • No extra entries on this one, but feel free to spread the word :P
  • Open worldwide, ends on May 14, 2010.


  1. This is my first time hearing about this book. I love books that tackle difficult topics like this. I hope I win!

  2. I've great great things about this book.

  3. Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the interview:)

  4. Great interview! I loved this book too! :D

  5. I have heard so much buzz about this book. What a great interview! I work with children with Autism in the summertime and hope to have a chance to read this. What a great topic!

  6. Great interview! Marcelo in the Real World sounds like a brilliant novel, I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  7. It is a beautiful book that has touched my heart, mind and soul. I can also think of many others for whom the book will also be touching and helpful.


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