LAS CRUCES – Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz meet Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia in an upcoming novel by Las Cruces artist and author George Mendoza.
Mendoza’s art, whether written or painted, is particularly notable in the community as it uses it as an outlet for his disability. At 15, he was diagnosed with degenerative eye disease, rendering him legally blind. The “kaleidoscope” colors he sees are channeled into his paintings.
Despite – or rather because of – the diagnosis, he led a life filled with motivational speaking, painting, and writing. He even competed in the 1980 and 1984 Paralympic Games for the men’s 1,500-meter and 800-meter races.
Now, on September 18, his first novel will be available to the public – “Journey of the Spirit Man”.
“Obviously you can’t see (the outside world) so you have to find things inside your world, and I’ve created a very wonderful and creative life,” Mendoza said.
He explained that the novel is the first in a large series he has written since the 1990s. He has created a new literary world based in New Mexico, where his character, Michael, discovers doors to other worlds. . These “other worlds” are places that Mendoza has personally visited throughout his life, such as Holland, New York and Mexico.
The novel’s synopsis describes it as “an exploration of the struggles, limitations and triumphs of the human mind”.
The sequel, “Vision of the Spirit Man”, is being edited but has not yet received a release date. According to Mendoza, he hopes to release at least one trilogy, but he has many more Spirit Man books written in early draft form.
Mendoza received a special surprise in early August – his book was nominated for a 2022 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. His agent, Frank Weimann, appointed him and the listing was approved on August 7, Mendoza said. Winners and finalists will be announced in April 2022.
“I’m right on top of this Pulitzer Prize nomination,” Mendoza said. “It’s great just to be nominated.”
Mendoza has quite a few irons in the fire, but the COVID-19 pandemic has given him time to really focus on his art and writing full-time.
The nomination has drawn a lot of attention to the novel and coincides with the production of a film based on his picture book, “Colors of the Wind”. This book tells the story of Mendoza’s life – going blind, but not letting that stop your ambition.
“I’m a long-distance runner by nature, and as an artist and writer you have to deal with a lot of rejections. But you have to ignore them, ”he said. “I’ve kind of put (the ‘Spirit Man’ character) Michael through hell in all the books but he comes out on top all the time, barely. He’s a survivor and he’s very persistent, and that’s what you need to be.