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NORWALK - Jorge Ancheytta was born in Guatemala, came to the U.S. when he was 10, armed with a 6th grade Spanish (Guatemalan) schooling but without the ability to read or write in English.
With the family settling down in South Central L.A., Jorge learned his new language, English, mainly through his interactions with his peers, even as he attended Edison Junior High and John C. Fremont High School but dropped out because he says he was bored and felt he wasn't being challenged enough.
"I wasn't being challenged because I have practically total recall," he explains. "I consider myself a quick learner. I pick up concepts and information fairly quickly."
"After a few years, under a government program," he goes on, "I went back and tested for my high school diploma, and I passed it, in 1995."
Later attending El Camino College for two semesters focusing on English, Jorge's life took a familiar pattern: he didn't bother to pursue his certificate there either. He was marching to the beat of his own drum. His mind was also filling with story ideas because of a "vivid imagination."
In the meantime, he had to heed economic necessity-he had to work. "My first job was selling ladies footwear part-time," he says. "I was pretty good at it. I was 16 at the time, and I was outselling the full-time employees. Then I worked for Wells Fargo for a while."
At age 24, I got married," he says, "and my wife (Gabby) and I moved to Downey. I just wanted to get out of L.A."
After Wells Fargo, he worked for seven years for a credit union, then went back to sales. He sold GPS tracking devices for an electronics firm for some three years. He quit last year.
They had by then, in 2005, moved to Norwalk.
Even while he was employed at his last job, he already started writing his trilogy, "The Last Garden." This came about because their first son, Coco (full name: Jorge Emmanuel), who's now 12 and goes to Los Alisos Middle School, started asking him to "read him a story" before he went to bed. (They have another son, Allen Koby, age 4).
"Sometime ago," Jorge begins to describe, in his own words, how the book began, "I was reading a story to Coco. Then he said, 'Dad, instead of reading to me, can you tell me a story?' I said, 'Okay'. Knowing that he liked super heroes I asked him, 'If you were a super hero, what kind of super powers would you like to have?' He answered, 'I don't want super powers. They're a lot of responsibility. Instead, I would like to have something that gives me super powers when I want them, but it has to be something I can put away when I don't want them'."
"With that idea in mind," Jorge goes on, "I began creating a story for him and his two cousins, Heidi and Checo. The story I told my son that night was filled with fighting scenes and evil creatures. He was really excited about the story and so was I. Then he went to sleep.
That same night, I began to write the story to give it some type of continuation the following day. I got into it. I went to bed at 4:00 a.m. The story continued the following day and that same night I wrote some more. This ritual went for about two weeks and soon enough I had written more than 50,000 words. I began sharing the written story with friends and family and I kept hearing the same thing.
'You should turn your story into a book'."
"The story took a life of its own. 'The Last Garden' became a trilogy. The first past was published right before Christmas day of last year with two sequels being released in the near future."
Jorge continues: "'The Last Garden' takes place in a remote mountain hideaway where Heidi, her brother Checo and their cousin Coco live with some of the last humans on earth. Their world was destroyed long ago by the 'shadow', and only a few survived. But when Heidi's and Checo's father crosses over to the dark side, the trio is called upon to find and rescue him.
They learn that their father possesses the key to the mystery of the world's destruction and possibly answers to their future. Armed with three instruments endowed with special powers, Heidi, Checo and Coco bravely descend to the dark side, not knowing what they'll see and who they'll meet. Joined by Koby, a dark side inhabitant who is on their side, the teens seek both the man and the truth.
What they discover on their adventurous journey is far from what they expect, and they soon find themselves faced with the task of saving both their own lives and the lives of those they love."
Actually, Jorge says, "I have also written two stories written in Spanish, as well as a cartoonish story and two more books of short stories in English which I hope to publish.
"Like I said," Jorge says, "I read, and write, a lot -in English and Spanish. Unlike most people, I have the capacity to remember my dreams. A lot of the things I write arise from these dreams. And blessed with a retentive memory and a vivid imagination, I try to adapt these dreams into stories."
In the meantime, a Hollywood producer is looking into The Last Garden trilogy to see if he can turn it into a major motion picture."
A book signing for the first installment of "The Last Garden" is scheduled for this Sunday (Jan. 26) from 1 to 4 p.m. at Leche Café and Bookstore, 11723 Firestone Blvd. in Norwalk, a refreshing 10,000-sq. ft. oasis (amid the vast expanse of cyberspace) which opened just four months ago. It's run by the husband-and-wife team of Jesse and Patty Pelayo.
"I've also found out," confesses Jorge, "that writing a story is the easy part. The details that come after (the editing, the appropriate graphics, the legal permits, and a thousand other details) are the hard part."
For additional information about the book, go to thelastgarden.com/index.html.
Published: Jan. 23, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 41