Two Coast authors pen novels set in Mexico

Imagine sorting through the belongings of your recently deceased husband and finding a computer memory stick that contains his completed novel – one you thought he had abandoned, unfinished, years before. 

That happened to Halfmoon Bay’s Rose Cuddy, whose husband Norm, unbeknownst to her, had completed Return of the Jaguar prior to his death from cancer in 2016. Rose said it was just luck the manuscript was discovered, because she had never seen a memory stick before, didn’t know what it was, and was about to throw it away. 

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“Thankfully my daughter was with me and she explained what it was,” Cuddy told an audience at a Nov. 22 reading at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre. “So, we plugged it in and up popped the last draft of Jaguar. We both went, ‘What!?’” 

Years before, Cuddy had read previous drafts of her lawyer-husband’s historical fiction novel – a love story involving a B.C. man, set in southern Mexico during a violent insurrection by the oppressed native people of Chiapas. She thought the final draft was a big improvement over earlier versions and showed it to friends and family. They agreed it was very good and should be published. 

“And here we are today,” Cuddy said. 

Return of the Jaguar was short-listed in the fiction category at the Whistler Independent Book Awards. 

Cuddy did the Arts Centre reading as part of a southwest B.C. book tour with Gibsons author Bruno Huber. The pair decided to do readings together, given the coincident contents of Huber’s new novel, Mariposa Intersections. It also is a love story, also involves a B.C. character and is also set in Mexico amidst civil upheaval. In this case, Huber has created a fictional battle over a nuclear power plant in a renowned cultural region near Mexico City, and was also perilously close to a monarch butterfly sanctuary. (Mariposa means “butterfly” in Spanish.) 

Both novels are set in real places and based, if loosely, on real events within the last 20 years. 

Huber’s tale of love lost is about Rafael and Gabriela. He is born poor, she is the daughter of a wealthy businessman, who puts an end to his daughter’s relationship with a mere peasant. 

“Their young, passionate love would have to be sacrificed on the altar of social pressure and class differences,” Huber said. Years later, the two characters would meet again, finding themselves on opposite sides of the fight over the planned nuclear facility. 

Norm Cuddy’s story is about the plight of the Mayan Indians, Rose noted, “but it’s also a love story, about a Canadian man and an American woman.” In this case, they’re both fighting on the same side, “and become dangerously involved in the violence between opposing factions.” 

Return of the Jaguar and Mariposa Intersections can be found at Talewind Books in Sechelt.

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