Silvia Moreno-Garcia Interview
By Charles Tan
Hi Silvia! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, how are things with Innsmouth Free Press?
Good! We’ve got three books we are working on. There’s DEMONSTRA, a poetry collection by Bryan Thao Worra. It’s Weird poetry with a Laos angle. The sequel to the urban fantasy novel Fraterfamilias is out this year. It’s called Confraternitas. We recently revealed the TOC for Sword and Mythos, it’s an anthology of heroic fantasy tales with a Lovecraft Mythos angle. And we are working on the next two issues of Innsmouth Magazine.
Moving on to your fiction, at this point in time, how do you manage to juggle the time to write fiction amidst your various projects including publishing, editing, and fund-raising a novel?
After I put my children in bed, I generally have a couple of hours to devote to Innsmouth Free Press. That’s when I edit, send contracts, etc. Most of my time is taken by this stuff but I try to make some time for my writing.
I actually spend a small portion of my overall time writing. Maybe 25%. And I try to pre-write. I work a story in my head. I rehearse dialogue in the shower or on the bus (yeah, I can seem very weird). I solve plot problems when waiting in line. By the time I sit down to write I may not have everything solved, but I have a good idea of what the feeling and general thrust of the story might be like.
I can proof during my commute. If I have a day off, I can carve a couple of hours in the morning for writing. Sometimes I try to get up early so I can write before my family is up. I just try to make it work.
Could you tell us more about Young Blood?
It’s a novel about narco vampires in Mexico City. It grew from a short story I published in Evolve 2 a couple of years ago. The protagonist is a teenager who collects garbage for a living. He meets a vampire who is on the run from rival vampires. They get into trouble.
A lot of the books and stories I read have middle-class protagonists. I wanted to do something that is not like that. And I wanted to try something that is a bit noir because I think Mexico City is naturally noir. At the same time, Domingo, the teenager, is a pretty plucky hero. He’s an optimist. People might see sleaze and hardship, but he’s always looking at the bright side.
What makes your vampires different?
Everyone always says their vampires are different, it’s become a bit of a cliche, hasn’t it? Still, I think there are some differences.
Atl, the vampire Domingo meets, is inspired by Mexican folklore so she has certain characteristics borrowed from Mexican vampires: she only feeds on the blood of children and teenagers, she transforms into something that resembles a bird of prey, only women can be vampires. She’s from the North of the country and her family is a narco family.
The vampires after her are European refugees and they are more like the vampires you usually see in movies. They can’t go out in the daylight. They can infect you. Only you won’t turn into a vampire. It’s like a bad case of a venereal disease. You’ll just die eventually.
I guess the biggest difference is it all takes place in Mexico City. It seems like vampires are always European and they are either in England or maybe in the United States. And they’re sexy. But these people aren’t sexy. Atl is good looking and Domingo is quickly fascinated by her, but that’s in great part because he is attracted to the romantic image of the vampire found in comic books and fiction. He’s got the wrong idea about her. She’s not romantic. It’s not romantic to be a vampire or a narco. Atl and the people around her are all killers. They are predators.
I wanted to write a YA with vampires and I basically wanted to play around with people’s expectations of this type of work. So these are not white middle-class kids whose worst fear is that their prom will be ruined.
What made you decide to raise funds for it? Why Indiegogo?
I asked for a Canada Writer’s Grant for $3,000 because I needed the money to finish the novel. I’m halfway through and basically in my spare time I freelance. I know, apart from IFP I freelance! But if I have to worry about making extra cash in my spare time, I can’t write. So I thought if I could have $3,000 I could sit down and dedicate some time to the novel. Finish it. Everything would be great.
But I didn’t get the grant. I organized a successful Indiegogo campaign for the Sword and Mythos anthology. I wondered if I should do the same thing for this and publish the novel myself. There are risks, but I figure no one is clamoring to toss an advance or a grant at my feet, so I might as well make it happen some other way.
You’ve provided opportunities for diverse voices in the past few years, whether through your own writing, the books you edit, and those you’ve published. So far, what’s been the biggest hurdle in your experience?
One difficult thing is showing people that Innsmouth Free Press is open to diverse writers. A lot of writers see horror as a very closed arena. They see it as closed to women, minorities, etc. They don’t see it as a space they can inhabit. Spreading the word and convincing people that we are open to them takes some time. We have done very well with our anthologies and issues and managed to attract lots of talented writers, but it’s still not exactly easy to get the word out at times.
Personally, I’ve had issues with people saying my writing is not “science fiction” or “fantasy.” I’ve had editors say it is too literary. I also had one person say a story made me cry, but they couldn’t understand it, so they rejected it. I think we still have some narrow expectations of what a story is and when something comes and it’s a bit different, we don’t always react well to it.
It’s a weird space to navigate at times because I think literary publications may me a bit weirded out by my stuff and speculative places may think it’s too mundane. But, I’m doing much better these days! It’s always easier when people are now soliciting your stuff and you don’t need to wade the slush pile.
What projects are you currently working on?
Aside from the Indiegogo for the novel, it’s mostly Innsmouth Free Press stuff. Getting projects through the production funnel. I’ll probably write a couple more short stories before the year is done. One should be steampunk, probably two horror ones. Next year I will be editing one or two anthologies and, well, there’s the novel!
Anything else you want to plug?
My first collection, This Strange Way of Dying, is out this year. In the fall my first solo anthology, Dead North, containing lots of Canadian zombie stories, hits bookstores.