Barbara Bickmore lived and wrote in Ajijic from 1990 to 1997. She recalled writing her first story at the age of seven, but fifty-four years would pass before her dream deferred would reveal itself in a frenetic burst of writing creativity.
Born and raised on Long Island, Bickmore exhibited an interest in literature and theater from childhood and grew up to become a teacher. She married, and her career was later interrupted for several years following the births of her three children.
Divorced after 16 years of marriage, Bickmore took a sabbatical from teaching in order to complete her Masters degree, then moved with her children to Oregon in 1973. When her attempts at farming and shopkeeping failed, she returned to teaching until her employer declined to renew her contract in 1985.
The now unemployed Bickmore was invited to China by a daughter who was at the time working as an English language instructor in Xian. During the visit mother and daughter befriended a South African couple. The experience led Bickmore to later choose both China and South Africa as settings for some of her books.
Upon her return to the States, Bickmore completed her first novel, East of the Sun, which was published in 1988 when she was aged 61.
She came to Ajijic in 1990 following publication of her second novel, The Moon Below, and stayed for 7 years.
During her time in Ajijic she completed five books, including:
- The Back of Beyond (1994)
- Homecoming (1995)
- Deep in the Heart (1996)
- Beyond the Promise (1997)
While none of her books were set in Mexico, Bickmore was clearly enamored of the Lake Chapala area, writing of it:
I lived for 7 magical years in a little Mexican village, Ajijic, high in the mountains south of Guadalajara on the edge of Lake Chapala. They were the happiest years of my life.
She returned to Oregon in 1998, where she continued to write and where she remained until her death at age 87.
The themes of Bickmore’s books are expressions of her personal morality, and she considered her work a form of political activism:
I am against war. I am for a woman’s right to reproductive choice. I believe women should have the same choices, and chances, men do. I am against racism. I believe education can make for better informed choices and can expand one’s view of the world and make for a limitless horizon. I believe friendship is one of the most important things in life and that love is the single most important ingredient. I believe in kindness and that we are our brother’s and sister’s keepers.
One of the amazing and wonderful, almost unbelievable, things about writing is that people read what I think and feel and perhaps I even influence a few. I’d like to be like my heroines, each of whom makes a difference in their worlds. They look out beyond themselves to help others and hopefully make the world a better place.
Bickmore’s books were at least as popular abroad as in the U.S., and her work has been translated into 16 languages.
Read more about Barbara Bickmore and browse her books here on Amazon.
Read more about the Lake Chapala area’s rich literary legacy here.
Check out the complete listing of RiberasAuthors by genre here.
(Post by Antonio Ramblés.)