Anita Perez Ferguson Discusses the Inspiration Behind Her Award-Winning Historical Fiction Trilogy, ‘Mission Bells’
Santa Barbara Author Wins Second Award for Her Young Adult Trilogy About Colonial California
Anita Perez Ferguson has dedicated decades to helping underrepresented people in politics, especially women and minorities, have their voices heard. Her timeless fight for more representation set her on her most recent journey to becoming a historical fiction novelist. Her latest Mission Bells trilogy highlights Western history and is a product of all the stories, experiences, and hardships she has worked so intimately with. The past six years of her writing venture have paid off. For the second year in a row, she has received the Best Young Adult Writer Award at the San Francisco Writers Conference.
Your novels highlight Colonial California. What about this era fueled your writing of these Western sagas?
The timeline and locations for my historical fiction trilogy are directly related to the history of my own family.
What is your biggest takeaway from working in the field of political service that has transitioned into your passion to write historical fiction?
In the 1980s to 2000, my political work was centered on bringing new voices to the decision-making table: women’s voices, underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, and other marginalized people groups. From that work, I wrote A Passion for Politics, independently published in 1999, and co-authored Women Seen and Heard in 2004 with Dr. Lois Phillips. In 2016, I began to write about other unheard voices and untold stories in our Western history. This resulted in my Mission Bells trilogy for young adults.
You have spent a career helping women find their voice in politics; does this translate into your latest novel, Broken Promises, which features a female biracial teen caught between both sides of war?
Broken Promises (2023) is the third novel in that series, intended to represent and respect untold stories that are foundational to our region. My character, Sparrow, struggles with multiple challenges and finds her voice.
Has entering the world of writing historical fiction given you any new insights on the issues that are still present in modern American politics?
We all carry our history in our genes, successes as well as shadows, and pass them on to future generations.
Why do you write to specifically reach an audience of young adults?
I believe that knowing who you are and where you come from provides a foundation of resilience and hope in this uncertain world.
What attracts you most to using history to create fiction?
Santa Barbara’s history and beauty provide a living landscape of inspiration for artists, musicians, and writers.
What is next for you now that the Mission Bells trilogy is complete?
My new work is Lupe Throws Like a Girl. Lupe Lopez, an ambitious first-generation high school graduate, is ecstatic about her future playing baseball on a college scholarship until she learns that before she can graduate, she must miss a month of baseball practice in order to complete 60 hours of community service at a run-down retirement home where her mother does the laundry.
Has being a recognized historical fiction writer changed aspects of your life?
After six years of writing and three novels, I still consider myself a beginner. I will continue to write about teen characters, especially in the Latinx community.
For more information about Anita Perez Ferguson and her books, visit anitaperezferguson.com/westerncaminos.
You must be logged in to post a comment.