I asked my writing partner Bonita to give a little background on how she developed the second protagonist in The Werewolf Whisperer, Xochi Magaña. The character I handed over to Bonita when we were still thinking of writing a web series was nowhere near to fully realized. I had a notion, but it was more about how this Xochi character related to Lucy Lowell.
When the Werewolf Whisperer idea hit me, Xochitl was there almost as soon as I envisioned Lucy. Lucy, I knew, would be misunderstood by almost everyone around her — she is tough, direct and brusque. But she has a vulnerability that only those closest to her understand. I needed Xochitl so the reader could see past Lucy’s tough and monosyllabic exterior.
The name “Xochitl” (SO-cheel) was there from the start too. Years ago, when I read Katherine Kurtz’ The Adept series I loved the character of Ximena, and I loved her name for its distinct spelling and history. When it came time to name Lucy’s best friend, I couldn’t bring myself to steal “Ximena” from Kurtz, but I happen to know two women named Xochitl — one who goes by “SO-chee” and one who goes by “SO-chuhl.” I loved the sound of the various pronunciations, and I loved the memorable spelling.
So that’s what I had, a loyal best friend with a cool name. And that’s what I handed over to Bonita. And Bonita has graciously provided the Seething Brain with some insights:
Introducing Xochitl Maria Magaña — La Güera
by Bonita Gutierrez
Being bi-racial — a child of two worlds — is a wonderful, sometimes heartbreaking life to live. And a story not often told. So when Camilla asked me to collaborate with her on The Werewolf Whisperer and expressed that she wanted to base the character of Xochitl on my experiences, I was both excited and humbled.
Right off the bat, I knew who Xochi was: a light-skinned Latina, straddling the precarious line between two cultures.
It had been hard growing up a “güera” in the barrio — a place, despite being Mexicana, Xochitl had never felt she truly belonged.
And though the moniker, “la güera” (white girl), labeled Xochitl as an outsider and had a profound effect on her growing up, it doesn’t drive her.
No. What drives Xochi is her fierce loyalty to her family and friends. It’s ingrained in her DNA. She’d do absolutely anything to protect them and give up absolutely everything to save them.
But such devotion comes with a price. And for Xochitl, that price was her dream of a life away from the neighborhood.
I was so close to getting out.
Then everything changed. Her father had a stroke. His health rapidly deteriorated. She dropped all her classes. Moved back home. Took over the bar. Took over care of Miguel.
Miguel. No one cranks up Xochi’s compulsion to protect more than her little brother. He’s her reason for every good and bad decision she’s ever made. Her desperate need to keep him safe, at times, borders on dangerous. And nothing was more dangerous for Xochi than when she’d hooked up with Memo “El Gallo” Morales — the leader of the neighborhood gang, East Los Locos.
With Memo, Xochitl had bitten off more than she could chew. At first, their relationship had been a way to protect Miguel and herself when her papa had died. But later, it had deteriorated into a quagmire of dogfights, gunrunning and increased physical abuse.
There was no way Xochitl could live with herself knowing she had let this thug take over the business her papa had worked so hard to build.
God, what would Papa think of me now? I just wanted to keep the bar going and Miguel safe.
Shame and fear pushes Xochitl to the edge. And it’s on the edge where we first meet her in the pit bull raid. She has set Memo up. Ratted him out. And if Lucy Lowell and the cops don’t show up to her cantina soon, she’s toast.
I’m gonna be in deep shit if this doesn’t go down right…And Miguel, Memo’ll…
To save her brother and herself, Xochitl has no choice but to put “El Gallo” away. For her, it’s life and death.
And it’s why she braves the dangerous cat-and-mouse game playing out between her and Memo. Over and over he advances, and over and over she retreats. But with every minute that ticks by, Memo becomes more abusive, and Xochi’s life becomes more at risk.
Memo closed the gap between them and grabbed her arm, yanking her to him. “I said go upstairs and get in that pinche slip, bitch.”
But Xochi’s no victim. At her core, she’s a fighter and can give as good as she gets.
Xochitl pulled her arm back and without thinking threw a right hook to his jaw.
Oh, fuck! What did I do?
Instinctively, she began backing up toward the bar’s front door to make her escape.
But the deadly game escalates.
Xochi heard a menacing laugh and the distinctive clicking sound of a gun being cocked.
“Not bad for a little güera bitch. Daddy teach you that?”
Xochitl grabbed for the door.
“Don’t you fucking move, puta.”
Naked fear blasted through Xochitl’s body, leaving her feet bolted to the floor. She had nowhere to go. If she moved, Memo would shoot her.
He’s gonna shoot you anyway.
In an instant, Xochitl turns a corner. She realizes a hard, cold fact: fight or die. There’s no other way.
An odd bubble of calm enveloped Xochi, and — as if locked in stasis, she stood immobile, waiting, contemplating her next move.
Her mind kicks into high gear, and she formulates a plan.
Xochitl stole a glance at the bar.
Behind the counter. Papa’s shotgun. If I’m quick enough…