The Mysterious History of the Hummingbird


The movie deal is progessing, and I swear, as soon as my name's on a dotted line, I'll begin telling you details and stories and gossip as we go.

So many of you have written to me--I am always delighted to get your notes. I get emails from all over the country--and I got snail-mail from Alaska! So many people want to know some of the experiences or secrets or mysteries of the process that led to The Hummingbird's Daughter. I could blog myself into a stupor for weeks on end trying to tell you all that happened. But then, if I told you all of it, the mystery would be gone.

You know, when I left the Beloved Rocky Mtns in 1995 to go to Tucson for what I thought was the final summer of research into the book, I made a pact with my friend Jonna and a few of my former writing students. I decided to keep a journal for them of what happened. I would urge a stalled writer to try it--a journal kept for another. I was sick of my own voice, sick of my life at that point, sick of my insane romances, entanglements, and misadventures; I could not or would not keep my own journal. But Jonna seemed like someone I could confess my sorrows to, so I did. Can you believe it? She ended up with hundreds (and hundreds) of strange tales. And even she doesn't know everything because there were things I couldn't talk about. I called that whole avalanche of madness The Desert Dispatches, and I often threaten to descend on Jonna and her husband Steve to try to edit the massive print-out. What a strange book that would make. Ghosts, devils, miracles, fear, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, sex, God, churches, Indians, lightning storms, Mexico City, curanderas, Charles Bowden, hikes, bikers, fires, Esperanza, medicine men, demons, magic, violence, floods, Aztec pyramids, famous writers, suffering, hummingbirds. It would be my own Carlos Castaneda book.

I was so distraught after having lived in the world of the numinous, that world of visions and strange etheric visitations, that I don't think I was prepared to go back there. It is not lost on me that I left the shamanic precincts and teach full-time in the most "intellectual" and anti-medicine school I've ever known.

Perhaps one day I'll post a few dispatches here so you Teresita fans can see the story in the shadows.

I'll give you an example of the kinds of things that happened every day. I was at a family gathering in California with Cinderella. We had been told that Aunt Elba Urrea, a healer (of course) wanted to meet me. She was dying of cancer. You wouldn't have known it to meet her. She was a riot. Hilarious. Sang ballads and baudy songs, drank up and laughed so much that one of the cranky wives blurted: "I thought you had lung cancer!" Before the party ended, Elba told me she had something for me in her car. We had struck up my traditional older-woman flirtation and romance, and she took my arm and strolled down the night street and called me "Guerito." In the trunk of her car, she had a crate full of documents. Letters, articles, photographs, reports. All about Teresita. La Cinderella, who had her doubts about all my tales of miracles and astonishments, types like a forest fire. And Elba didn't want to leave these materials for longer than a weekend. So we sped to Jonna's house and started the tireless campaign of entering the data onto our little laptop. Well, I sat around drinking coffee and reading Fortean Times while Cindy typed.

But she saw for herself, entering NY Times and LA Times and San Francisco, Arizona, and St. Louis articles, that what I had been saying was real. Witnessed. The strange part for me was that the original drafts of Hummingbird has a framing device--a younger Urrea is digging through the past like me. And a surprise crate of letters, articles, photographs, reports comes into his hands to help him write the book! Key the Twilight Zone theme.

Don't even ask me about the dreams or the shadow-people or the Wicked One who came to pound on my door at three in the morning. That night I was alone with the biggest knife I could find. It's real.


Michelle Lequin (not verified)

Ah, those days of writing magic (hmm, well, sometimes), Jonna and Steve and Barbara Murphy, who I still talk to now and again. Stayed at Steve and Jonna's when I was last in San Diego in 5/ in Oregon trying to be a humorist and just starting to sell my greeting cards...why does it take so long to find the real voice inside? I'm 52 years old, for God's sake. Gotta take this chance.

Thanks for the blogs, Luis, and for everything...Teresita, the restless travels (yeah, still running myself), the poetry, the bravery, the wonderful family stories, the truth and the brutality and all that needs to be said, and you do, and much better than most. I may not say much, or very often, but I'm still listening.

With gratitude, and Blessings to you, Cinderella, and the children,

Michelle Lequin

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Book club members have been some of my most enthusiastic and careful readers. I’m thrilled to share my work with you, answer your questions and tell you some of the stories behind the stories. This is our spot, just for us. Here, we can chat:  If I’m nearby, I’ll come and visit your club. Otherwise, we can Skype, talk over the phone or email. Sometimes, I’ll send surprises or hold contests.

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