First-time author finds success with historical novel

Diana J. Noble’s ‘Evangelina Takes Flight’ is for young readers
By Brian Soergel | Nov 02, 2017
Courtesy of: Diana J. Noble Diana J. Noble

As any writer knows, getting a book published is a big deal. Many authors self-publish their own, but having a publishing company’s support can make all the difference in making sure your voice gets heard.

Local resident Diana J. Noble, a human resources specialist for Boeing, is now a published author after going through the obligatory literary agent rejections. “It’s a story of perseverance,” she said. She was rejected 98 times before landing good news.

Her book “Evangelina Takes Flight” was released by Houston-based Arte Público Press, the nation’s largest publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors. It’s marketed under the company’s imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, which is dedicated to the realistic and authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States.

“It’s first-person,” said Noble about the book, targeted at kids 10 to 15. “It’s based on the life of my paternal grandmother and stories of my own childhood.”

Noble is a native of Laredo, Texas, who was inspired when learning about her grandmother growing up in northern Mexico during the 10-year Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920.

“She had to move north because it was unsafe to stay there; they thought they would be targeted by Pancho Villa because they were landowners,” Noble said, referring to the Mexican revolutionary general.

Her grandmother’s family moved to Laredo, where Noble said many Mexicans landed and would go on to establish themselves and raise families.

The book’s protagonist is 13-year-old Evangelina de León, who lives on a sprawling ranch with her large family in northern Mexico. During her sister’s quinceañera, news of raids and subsequent violence forces Evangelina and her family to move to a relative’s home in Seneca, a fictional southeast Texas town.

Once in the U.S., however, Evangelina and family immediately face discrimination. The consequences of that – and how Evangelina deals with it – are major themes in the book. While Noble’s own grandmother did not experience discrimination in Laredo – which was and is predominantly populated by Latinos – many immigrant families in other parts of Texas, California and other states did.

Noble conducted extensive research over a four-year period, and feels the book is historically accurate.

Noble herself grew up in a Mexican-American household where her parents made her feel proud to have two cultures. “We spoke both languages, ate a lot of amazing homemade Mexican food, sang traditional Mexican love songs at family parties with my dad playing the guitar,” she said. “Extended family and friends had an extremely close bond and showed great dedication to each other.”

“Evangelina Takes Flight,” however, is still relevant in today’s political climate, she said.

“We have all seen so much negativity about Latinos, and Mexicans in particular. Some young people today don’t want to say they’re of Mexican descent because of how they might be viewed by others, generally through a misinformed, stereotypical lens. When I started writing the book, I didn’t know how timely it would be now. And diversity in children’s literature is still limited, but that’s starting to change.”

Although the book can be enjoyed by anyone, Noble said the primary target is middle-grade students.

Reviewers and publishing professionals have noticed Noble’s work.

It was named a Junior Library Guild Selection and has received positive reviews by Kirkus Reviews, Foreword Reviews and Booklist Online. Noble has picked up speaking engagements, including last month at the Texas Teen Book Festival, this month at the Texas Book Festival and coming up in April at a Texas Librarian Association conference.

Noble was chosen as October “Author of the Month” on Houston Public Media, where radio host Eric Ladau interviewed her for its “Arte Público Press Author of the Month” feature.

Noble and her husband live in unincorporated Edmonds just south of Picnic Point. Her children attended Kamiak High School. At her home, when not working at the day job, she is shopping around for a new publisher for her second book, “Call Girl,” which she says is a 180-degree departure from “Evangelina Take Flight.” The book is loosely based on her own experience as a new mother, wracked with postpartum depression and work-life imbalance while working as a call center supervisor.

“It’s a humorous and sometimes saucy take on some pretty serious subjects, but done in a highly accessible way,” she said.

If you read The Seattle Times, you might recognize Noble from four columns she had published called “Bandwagon Mama,” where she wrote from the comical perspective of a new fan of the Seattle Seahawks, trying to understand a complex game. She insists she’s not on the bandwagon anymore, though.

She’s a card-carrying super fan now.


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