I'm a Mexican American poet, novelist, painter, mother, and plantswoman. In my work, I explore myths and folklore as well as plants and the lineages of all things.
I was born in West Palm Beach, Florida and I grew up there with my parents, brother and sister. I studied fine art for many years, specializing in painting, both in high school and college. I have a B.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of West Florida and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Alaska, Anchorage.
My first poetry collection is Dirt and Honey and my second is Tales From the House of Vasquez. My debut YA novel, Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything, is available from Simon & Schuster. My second novel, How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe, is the winner of the Pura Belpré Award.
I'm represented by Elizabeth Bewley of Sterling Lord Literistic.
Third Person Biography
Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Pura Belpré Award-winning Mexican American poet, novelist, and painter. She received her BA in cultural anthropology from the University of West Florida and her MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Raquel is most inspired by folklore and seeds and the lineages of all things. When not writing, Raquel tells stories to her plants, and they tell her stories back.
Cover art by Jeanie Tomanek
"In her debut poetry collection, Dirt and Honey, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland invents worlds in which woman is synonymous with nature. In these poems, women are the first creators—pines grow from their words and flowers bloom at their feet. By offering these symbiotic relationships between humans and nature as mythical, these poems ask us to consider our own treatment of our environment, "to breed out the wild of a creature was to / breed out its moon. We need our moons." And we need this, a book so full of wilderness that you can't read it without getting dirt under your nails."
Mental illness runs on Gilliland's mother's side of the family, with the Vasquez women specifically. As Gilliland searched for the reasons why these women suffered, she found stories. Some of these tales are from the lips of her mother, Maria Elena, and grandmother, Ofelia. Some tales are unearthed from the fertile dirt where poems grow. Put together, Tales From the House of Vasquez is an archetypal journey in verse.
"Sailing for Mares" - Dark Mountain: Issue 7, Spring 2015
"Life on Earth" - Rattle: Poets Respond, 2016
"We Trace the Moon in a Green and Gold Field" - Venus Magazine: Issue II, 2016
"Constellation" - Luna Luna: The Luminous: 2017
"The Divine Harlot" - Sheila-Na-Gig: Volume 1.3, Spring 2017
"hurricane sky" - Redheaded Stepchild: Spring/Summer 2017
"I Know All Mothers..." - Rattle: Poets Respond: 2017
"To Ansel on His 1st Birthday" - Literary Mama: December 2017
"The Tale of the House of Vasquez" - Into the Void: 2017 Contest Winner
"The Tale of Kitchen Spirits" and "The Tale of Spice" - Luna Luna: 2018
"The Tale of the Earth" - Sheila-Na-Gig: 2018
"The Tale of Postpartum" - Rattle: Tales From the House of Vasquez, 2018
"The Tale of La Llorona" - Rattle: Tales From the House of Vasquez, 2018
Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe meets Roswell by way of Laurie Halse Anderson in this astonishing, genre-bending novel about a Mexican American teen who discovers profound connections between immigration, folklore, and alien life.
It’s been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and an ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident.”
Sia knows that her mom must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights San Anthony and la Guadalupe candles to guide her mom home.
Then one night, under a million stars, Sia’s life and the world as we know it cracks wide open. Because a blue-lit spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car…and it’s carrying her mom, who’s very much alive.
As Sia races to save her mom from armed-quite-possibly-alien soldiers, she uncovers secrets as profound as they are dangerous in this stunning and inventive exploration of first love, family, immigration, and our vast, limitless universe.
The Hating Game meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter in this irresistible romance starring a Mexican American teen who discovers love and profound truths about the universe when she spends her summer on a road trip across the country.
When her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate as the ugly, unwanted sister hidden in the background, destined to be nothing more than her sister’s camerawoman. But this summer, Moon also takes a job as the “merch girl” on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible.
Most notable is her bunkmate and new nemesis, Santiago Philips, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy Moon has ever seen.
Moon is certain she hates Santiago and that he hates her back. But as chance and destiny (and maybe, probably, close proximity) bring the two of them in each other’s perpetual paths, Moon starts to wonder if that’s really true. She even starts to question her destiny as the unnoticed, unloved wallflower she always thought she was.
Could this summer change Moon’s life as she knows it?
Legend goes that long ago a Flores woman offended the old gods, and their family was cursed as a result. Now, every woman born to the family has a touch of magic.
Sage Flores has been running from her family—and their “gifts”—ever since her younger sister Sky died. Eight years later, Sage reluctantly returns to her hometown. Like slipping into an old, comforting sweater, Sage takes back her job at Cranberry Rose Company and uses her ability to communicate with plants to discover unusual heritage specimens in the surrounding lands.
What should be a simple task is complicated by her partner in botany sleuthing: Tennessee Reyes. He broke her heart in high school, and she never fully recovered. Working together is reminding her of all their past tender, genuine moments—and new feelings for this mature sexy man are starting to take root in her heart.
With rare plants to find, a dead sister who keeps bringing her coffee, and another sister whose anger fills the sky with lightning, Sage doesn’t have time for romance. But being with Tenn is like standing in the middle of a field on the cusp of a summer thunderstorm—supercharged and inevitable.
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