For those of you not familiar with Silvia Moreno-Garcia, first, what’s wrong with you? Second, allow me to introduce her by shamelessly stealing the bio from her website.
Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia Moreno-Garcia lives in beautiful British Columbia with her family and two cats. She writes speculative fiction (from magic realism to horror). Her short stories have appeared in places such as Fantasy Magazine, The Book of Cthulhu, Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing and Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction. She is also the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, a Canadian micro-publishing venture specializing in horror and dark speculative fiction. She has co-edited the anthologies Historical Lovecraft, Future Lovecraft, Candle in the Attic Window and Fungi. The upcoming Dead North will be her first solo anthology.
I have been lucky enough to publish Silvia, be published by her, and share several ToCs with her. I have yet to meet her in person, but I am determined it will happen one day, and there will be poutine involved. In the meantime, she was kind enough to drop by to talk about her first short story collection This Strange Way of Dying, due out in June 2013.
Thank you for dropping by to talk about This Strange Way of Dying. Your list of published stories is quite long. How did you choose which ones to include in the collection? Was there a particular tone you were going for with the selection and order? Were there any you would have liked to include that didn’t feel right, and thus were left out?
I picked a lot more stories than what ended in the final book. I was going for stories that would show my range, but my editor thought the result was a collection that was a bit scattered. My editor suggested two stories that needed to go because the book was too long, then asked me to consider two more for the chopping block. I ended cutting three. What we cut were mostly secondary-world stories. The collection as it is now has a heavy emphasis on Mexican folklore, settings and characters. I think it is a more organic whole than it was with some of the other stories I had originally selected.
Speaking of selection, the title of the collection changed a few times before you finally settled on This Strange Way of Dying. What made you ultimately choose that one over the others? Did the informal polls you conducted over social media play a role in the title selection?
Well, one of the first stories to be cut out was “This Strange Way of Dying” so it became a practical case of naming it after something that was actually in the collection. We had long discussions about the title. I think people on Facebook liked This Strange Way of Dying and Twitter people preferred Driving with Aliens in Tijuana. I joked with the publisher that maybe Facebook people were more suicidal.
Ultimately we went with This Strange Way of Dying because I think it was much harder to come up with a defining cover image for Driving with Aliens in Tijuana. The image we landed upon is a catrina, a Mexican Day of the Dead popular image of a skull-woman which ties perfectly with the story that gives the collection its title.
In addition to your own writing, you’ve also co-edited numerous anthologies and you’re the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press. Aside from the temptation to ask whether you ever have time to sleep…I’m curious about how Innsmouth Free Press came to be. What inspired you to found your own small press?
It was Paula R. Stiles’ fault. We were chatting about books and publishing. I floated the idea of starting a small press and doing a little magazine. Paula encouraged me instead of stopping me. That’s how she ended as Editor-in-Chief of Innsmouth.
What we wanted to do was to create a small press that focused on stuff that was Weird, Lovecraftian, horror, kind of niche, but that still had high production values. Beautiful covers, interesting themes, dynamic writers, diverse settings and characters.
I wrote a little business plan for the first year and we bought a domain name. Neither of us truly realized how much time and effort it was going to take to get this thing going.
As if all your other projects weren’t enough, you’re also working on a YA novel about vampires set in Mexico. Based on the excerpt you posted on your blog, Young Blood feels almost like a response to modern vampire and paranormal romance tropes, in the tradition of novels such as The Orange Eats Creeps and Blood Oranges, is that something you set out to do, or am I reading into things?
I really like vampires. I do. And vampires have had a strong romantic/erotic undercurrent for many decades. Carmilla is sexy as hell. But she’s also dangerous. I think that some modern vampire treatments have lost some of that danger and some of the more predatory aspects of vampirism in favour of straight romance, taking away the more dangerous aspects. I’ve written several vampire stories and none of them are romantic because I’m interested in other questions these creatures pose rather than the romantic questions.
Young Blood is an expansion of a story I published a few years ago called “A Puddle of Blood.” I started writing it because in Latin American and Caribbean folklore vampirism and witchcraft often go hand in hand (this is also true in a bunch of Medieval European traditions). Some of these vampire-witches feed exclusively on children. That’s what the female vampire of this novel is. She’s a vampire that feeds on young people, hence Young Blood. I think this explained why a vampire might be interested in a teenager. Otherwise, I think it makes little sense for vampires to be hanging out around a high school. But if that’s your food source…
The other thing that bothered me was the high school thing. These vampire victim/lovers are always middle class people in high school or university, etc. The human protagonist of Young Blood is not. He’s a garbage collector. He lives in the streets. He meets the vampire and he’s taken with her. Most people don’t even look at him in the subway, so when she looks, he’s immediately hooked. But she’s a vampire and the member of a drug cartel. She’s not a good person. There are people after her and they’re also bad people, but that doesn’t make her a nice person. She’s exploiting him.
So I wanted to explore this relationship and what it means. I also wanted to set it in Mexico because it seems like vampires never exist in this country. This, mind you, is the second vampire novel I have attempted. The first was called Bullet to the Back of the Head and it was a noir about a woman who tries to solve the murder of her alcoholic vampire cousin. Also set in Mexico City. I loved the first opening line, I didn’t finish it. Some of the characters and ideas ended being borrowed for “A Puddle of Blood” and now Young Blood. I hope I finish Young Blood. I’m terrible about finishing novels.
Are there any other stories, anthologies, or upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?
The first solo anthology I’ve ever edited, Dead North, is out this year. It’s all about Canadian zombie stories. Next year I’m doing an anthology of Canadian urban fantasy for the same publisher.
For my own press, we are working on Sword and Mythos. It’s a heroic fantasy anthology. It should be out before the end of the year. Cross my fingers.
If I finish Young Blood (or don’t dump it) I’m toying with writing something set in 1930s Mexico City. Sort of an expansion of another short story I sold recently called “Men in Blue Overcoats” about a young woman and the titular man in the blue overcoat. He’s a swindler, a liar, a thief. He’s handsome and exciting and maybe he’s the devil, maybe just a con-artist with great looks. They steal a car and go off to the city, where she’s going to find her biological dad, and he’s probably going to try another con job. Or maybe he’s just bent on ruining her and damning her soul to eternal hellfire. Who knows.
Thank you for dropping by, Silvia. I can’t wait to pick up a copy of your collection!