During this year’s Independent Publisher Book Awards, local author Candelora Versace won a bronze Ippy Award for Best Regional Fiction in the Mountain West for her self-published first book, Traveling Light: a novelita (2019). Set in 1994, Traveling Light follows protagonist Camelia Delmonico as she embarks on a last-minute flight from Santa Fe to Oaxaca, Mexico. She has left her floundering marriage behind, promising a friend she will locate the friend’s missing teenage son at a beachside resort.
The book is stuffed with familiar Santa Fe types, such as a man who uses tarot cards to give Camelia unwanted insight into her psychological state or the many men and women who are busy self-actualizing and getting in touch with their spiritual and physical bodies.
“She tried to be calm. She breathed fully, grounding herself, connecting to a deep thread in the core of the earth and drawing it up to the bottoms of her feet; she felt the threat travel through her legs, up along her spine, and out the top of her head,” Versace writes of another character, Claire, when she is in a moment of turmoil.
Versace has worked as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets, including the Santa Fe New Mexican and New Mexico Magazine. She and other Ippy Award winners were honored at a ceremony on May 28 in New York City. Independent Publisher, a monthly digital publication that covers trends in independent publishing, has been holding the annual awards competition since 1996.