Other Side of the Peso Going on Hiatus

 

Current Mexican $1 peso coin

This is the fifty-seventh post in “The Other Side of the Peso-Mexican Success Stories.” It’s also the last one for a while. The blog is going on indefinite hiatus so I can wrap up the novel that was “nearly finished” when the blog began a year ago. I will post periodic updates of the novel’s progress toward publication.

I started the blog because I thought I had nearly completed Monterrey Brewing Company. In the U.S., it’s de rigueur these days for any aspiring writer to have a website and blog. The biggest question for all of us is what to blog about?

Monterrey Brewing Company is the story of an American brewer who joins a wealthy Mexican friend to open a trendy brewpub in an upscale suburb of Monterrey, Mexico. Ultimately, the business fails because of harassment from a drug cartel. My intention is to show American readers how the exponential growth and increasing power of the cartels has impacted the lives of all Mexicans.

Several American experts, like the owner of an agency that designs writer websites, advised that I blog about Mexican narco violence. Whenever I tell this story to Mexicans, heads immediately start shaking. Journalists, TV news reporters and even bloggers have been assassinated for negative comments about the cartels. Family members are considered fair game, too. Not my topic.

Much of my novel portrays everyday life for well-educated Mexicans going about their business and contributing positively to society. My characters are composites of hundreds of good people I’ve met in Mexico. These were the people who, last spring, I decided to blog about.

While the idea sounds easy enough, finding those remarkable individuals and organizations takes contacts and time. I’m hugely indebted to many family members and friends for their suggestions and help in arranging interviews. Likewise, the individuals featured were generous with their time from the initial contact through follow up questions and edits of story drafts. They often tracked down information and procured photos and the permission to use them.

For one of the first posts, I was fortunate enough to interview Ramón de la Peña, one of the most distinguished and respected academics in Mexico. I was thrilled when Alfredo Corchado, bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, replied to my initial email. He responded quickly and eloquently to every subsequent message. Well-known border expert Sylvia Longmire, veteran of interviews with major networks, gave me her time and thoughts.

Because of the blog, I interviewed wonderful people with whom I never would have made contact otherwise. People arranged special tours for me in places like Monterrey’s Bracino Brewery (brewer Daniel Cigarroa), Fábrica Literaria (author Sofía Segovia) and the private beach turned into a turtle refuge by Cabo San Lucas real estate mogul René Pinal (René Pinal, Martín Ocampo and Carla Sánchez).

People like chair weaver Eleuterio Flores in Monterrey and bookseller Gustavo Domb in Buenos Aires agreed to interviews on the spot. Others answered my online appeals for volunteers who had attended events like Monterrey’s World’s Largest Barbeque (chef and food writer Lalo Plascencia) and the Half Ironman (competitor Daniel Castañeda).

To all those interviewed and—most of all—to you, the readers who have followed these stories over the last year, I owe a huge thank you. Stay tuned in the coming months for updates on the progress of Monterrey Brewing Company.

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