About the Author

Changing the Narrative with Grace and Mercy

By Guadalupe García McCall

Born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, and raised in Eagle Pass, Texas, Guadalupe García McCall is the award-winning author of several young adult novels, some short stories for adults, and many children’s poems. Guadalupe has received the Prestigious Pura Belpre Award, a Westchester Young Adult Fiction Award, the Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Children’s Book Award, and was a finalist for the William C. Morris Award and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, among many other accolades.

I come from a long line of storytellers, generations of borderlands women who shared their stories with family and friends as a way of building community. Some stories illustrated hope, offered wisdom, and celebrated lives. But there were other stories, dark, foreboding tales meant to inform and protect those they loved, and I grew up listening to all of them.

Ghosts and ghouls were always part of the dark stories. “Go to bed,” Mami would say, “or the Lechuza is going to get you,” and she’d point out the silhouette of a screeching “witch-owl” perched on a willow tree across the street. “Don’t go too far,” my aunt Genoveva would warn before she told us about La Llorona, the weeping woman who wandered the banks of the Rio Grande looking for her drowned children, ready to replace them with our little, lost souls.

As I got older, the stories grew with me, addressing conflicts related to women’s issues. The story of “The Girl Who Danced With The Devil” is an interesting one. According to legend, there was once a beautiful young woman who loved to dance. With so many bailes breaking out on our Texas borderlands, finding a place to dance was not a problem. The problem was with her willfulness. So, when her parents forbade her to go out, the young woman crept through her bedroom window and went to the baile without permission. There, she found the perfect dancing partner, a well-dressed, handsome gentleman who spun around and around with her until they became a blur. But when the music stopped and the disheveled and confused young woman looked down, she saw that in place of feet her partner had a hoof and a claw. Horrified, the girl collapsed, falling dead to the floor as the Devil disappeared in a fiery cloud of smoke. And that’s it. That’s what happens to girls who like to dance too much.

That story disturbed me then as it disturbs me now, because the truth is that the problem is not with that vibrant young woman but with the Devil himself. My gothic novel, Echoes of Grace, touches on this topic on a metaphorical level. It’s the story of Grace and Mercy, two sisters navigating life with the echoes of family secrets and generational trauma, crimes against women that plagued their mother and grandmothers and now permeate their lives.

One morning, Grace’s visions—the don she inherited from her mother—the sights, sounds, and smells that overwhelm her daily life distract Grace and a terrible tragedy occurs. The heartbreaking event changes Mercy’s life forever and she distances herself from Grace, blaming her for her devastating loss. As Grace moves forward, she is determined to find redemption and make her way back to love and sisterhood with Mercy. But the guilt, grief, and the ghostly apparitions that torment her are all part of the bigger mystery: What happened to their mother?

I wrote Grace and Mercy’s story because it’s time to change that old narrative, time to dispel the myth that a girl cannot “dance” without meeting an awful fate in our world. As a counternarrative, Echoes of Grace points to a different way of informing our daughters, an honest, healthier, more hopeful way of looking at the futureofouryoungwomen