by Francisco Stork on July 3, 2017

Figuring out the inspirational origins of a novel is usually a difficult process for me. Multiple images, memories, ideas and emotions come together at different times to form the work’s initial vision. This was not the case with Disappeared (published September, 2017) where two seemingly disparate events coalesced in my heart and imagination with unusual clarity. The first consisted of the disappearance of hundreds of women in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Young women, typically between the ages of fourteen to twenty-two, are kidnapped from downtown streets and are either never seen again or their mutilated and sexually abused bodies are found some time later.  Mexico’s own National Human Rights Commission estimates that 4,500 young women disappeared from 1993 to 2004.

Who knows why of all the suffering in the world some of it touches us more deeply, more personally? Maybe the crisis of the Desaparecidas affected me because my memories of Juárez.  When I was nine-years-old and my adoptive father sought to bring our family to the United States, we lived in Juárez for a year while my mother waited for her visa to be approved. And even after moving to El Paso, we never really left Juárez. We moved back forth naturally and freely between the two cities, the two countries, hardly noticing the legal border that separated them. We bought our groceries, went out for lunch and dinner, got haircuts, visited doctors and dentists, repaired our cars, in Mexico. When I got to high school, I learned to appreciate my Mexican heritage even more in the festive and welcoming Juárez bars only two miles from my house in El Paso.

The other event that inspired Disappeared was the recent presidential campaign. That’s when I saw the anger of many people in this nation against Latino immigrants. It was hard not to feel included in the spreading rage despite assurances that the anger was not ethnically-motivated, but simply the desire for tougher enforcement of our immigration laws. I didn’t know what to do with my own anger and sadness. That’s when the memory of the missing Juárez women came to me. I felt that the best thing I could do was to write a book about two young Mexicans, a brother and a sister, who are admirable in many ways, while continuing to be fully human. Sara is a budding journalist in Juárez investigating the disappearance of the young women. Emiliano is a soccer star, an enterprising high school student with his own arts and crafts business who is determined to make it big in Mexico. They each must confront dangerous situations at home which force them to make hard moral choices, including the decision to cross into Texas desert for the freedom and safety offered by the United States.

Disappeared helped me grow as a writer and as a person. Creating a suspenseful, fast-paced story from the perspective of two different characters challenged me as a writer in a fun and meaningful way. But I think that it was in trying to respond to hatred creatively, with all the love I could muster, where I grew the most. My hope is that Disappeared will do something similar for you, its reader.

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A Secret Place

by Francisco Stork on May 30, 2017

When I retired a little over two years I go, I intended to make this site more a reflection of a true journal. I meant to write here more frequently in the open and free and unconscious manner that I write in the private journal where I write every day. But I found it impossible to do so. I could not forget the presence of a reader the way I can in the private journal. Another way of saying this is that I could not be as fully honest here as I needed to be. I had to go and stay in that other “secret place.” For honesty is what I craved the most. That secret place consisting not only of my private journal but also of the need to withdraw from public view, is where I can see and discover the truths of my internal world. The seeing and discovering would not be as clear if these were done in front of others where the need for attention and admiration clouds the starkness required by the vision. I would like to think that the self-enclosure, the hiding from public view, is not totally egocentric for it is there in the secret place where the characters and images and thoughts of my novels are born. I don’t go to the secret place with the utilitarian goal of harvesting the discoveries for my public work. That kind of ulterior motive would no longer make the secret place the kind of honest space it needs to be. The priority of the secret place needs to always be a greater awareness of my soul, the hidden as well as the more obvious parts. What is found there may or may not be shared, but if it is, the content that becomes public, is always a byproduct, a gift even, of the primary intent of self-discovery. These past two years, the secret place has been the foundation for my more public work, the hidden bedrock on which I build the structures that I share with others.  I wrote a novel entitled Disappeared during my two years of retirement. Disappeared is the story of Sara, a young journalist from Juárez, Mexico investigating the disappearance of hundreds of young women in that city. It is also the story of Emiliano, Sara’s younger brother, a soccer star, an ambitious young entrepreneur determined to be financially successful in Mexico. Each of them must face the difficult decision whether to cross without documents into the United States in the face of threats against their lives and their souls. This novel was written even as I felt in that secret place the hatred of many Americans for the Latino immigrant. It was in that secret place where my own anger and sadness were seen and allowed to endure without judgment and it was there that they were allowed to transform, slowly and painfully into the creative force needed to write the novel. A creative force that I have no name for other than love.

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2017 Resolutions

January 1, 2017

Be a tree. Live and know, suffer and enjoy The spot of earth you are planted. Root down each day for the deep moist soil of your soul And draw from there the sap of love. Be strong in your stillness, But let the wind sway you as it will. Be a shelter. Provide shade. […]

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