Life gives Guilin lemons but he doesn’t make lemonade - he writes novels
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula News
Published: December 21, 2012
When life gave Alfonso “Al” Guilin lemons he didn’t make lemonade but rather wrote novels, the second of which was just published. Guilin, a longtime Santa Paula resident, has just released “Sweet Lemons: Limones Dulces” the follow-up to his first fiction novel “The Lemon Thorn: La Espina del Limon” published last summer.
Both novels revolve around the rich agriculture community of Ventura County and the life of his protagonist, Dr. Carlos Reynoso. The first novel followed Reynoso’s struggles, including his quest to become a physician. He made it - in “Sweet Lemons” Reynoso has married but continues to be involved with life in the orchards, where he was a picker before becoming a healer.
Guilin, a retired executive of Limoneira Company, said when he began his first novel, “In my mind I always had two books.... And this second one basically finishes up the story,” although each can be enjoyed as a solid stand-alone read.
The books lean heavily on local color and the area’s signature agriculture industry, but mainly focus “on relationships of people working, trying to get ahead in the world... although strange things do sometimes happen.” And that includes Reynoso’s cousin Josie and her friend Nacho, who reluctantly get involved in a scheme by terrorists who hope to create chaos in Southern California in order to affect an international crisis.
Guilin said, “Their loyalty to their adopted country is tested in the potential for personal sacrifice, and by persons who would use them with little regard for their feelings, values or their humanity.” But that aspect of his second novel, Guilin said with a smile, is not a main one.
As a reader who always enjoyed mysteries and adventure novels, it was no surprise that Guilin’s initial novel was a diverse reflection of the 1970s in which it took place. Reynoso’s story of education and opportunities was punctuated by complications and dilemmas that challenged him as well as those around him trying to bring attention to their farmworker living and working conditions.
And perhaps as a reflection of Reynoso finding success, Guilin himself is finding it easier to tell his main character’s story. He found it easier to tackle the second novel, “about a year to write it, but about 18 months for the whole process,” including what Guilin said is the “biggest stumbling block” - editing and formatting for the publisher.
He credits his wife Jo Ann for much of the post-writing work of producing his novels. “She’s my co-publisher; she did a lot of that work. Actually Jo Ann,” his partner in their company AG Consultants, “has as much to do with it as anyone.” A deacon, Guilin and his wife are deeply involved in the community and the Catholic Church and are often on the go.
Guilin believes his latest book is “an interesting tale, just to relax and read.... Any message” in his novel, he added, “is incidental and accidental.”
To purchase an autographed copy of either of Guilin’s books, direct contact him at email@example.com or call 805-525-8839. He’ll also be happy to autograph copies of the books purchased at the Best of VC Marketplace and the Santa Paula Art Museum, where the paperbacks are sold for $15.95 plus tax.
Guilin’s novels are also available in paperback and as a Kindle download on Amazon.com.