Yesterday, author Gabino Iglesias wrote this piece for me about what it is really like to be an author of color in America. Today, I am asking Iglesias some questions about his own writing, fiction and nonfiction, the horror genre, and the authors he is most excited to read right now.
RA for All: You are an author of fiction but also a prolific writer about books and writing. How are the two different? Which do you enjoy more?
GI: I know this sounds weird, but I love both of them equally. The main difference for me is that it's all about the authors I write about when I'm reviewing and then it's all about me and the voices in my head when I'm working on my own books. I want to tell my own stories and share them with as many readers as possible, but I also want to share books I love with as many readers as possible. The only thing I have to keep reminding myself is that the day is only so long. I tend to get caught up in novels and reviewing and then ignore my own writing for weeks at a time. I'm trying hard to get better at that.
RA for All: Why horror? What draws you to the genre?
GI: When some folks think about horror, they think about monsters, ghosts, and demons. When I think about horror, I think about people. People who are scared. People who suffer People placed in dangerous situations. People haunted by things they can't simply shoot or run away from. No other genre taps into our emotional core quite like horror. No other genre tickles that reptilian brain the way horror does.
RA for All: Your debut novel, Zero Saints, seamlessly mixed the horror and crime genres to much acclaim. I am always talking to librarians about how genre blending is becoming the norm. Why do you think that is both from your perspective as an author who has done it and as an observer of the general fiction landscape right now?
GI: As a reader, I grew up on horror and then added crime to my diet. Most of the books I read belonged to one of those genres in a clear way because they played by the rules imposed by those genres. I don't like rules. You can take whatever you like from crime or fantasy or horror and use it while mixing in whatever you like from other genres. That's one thing that bizarro fiction does very well: the only rule of bizarro is to do whatever you want and write whatever makes you happy. I love darkness and horror. I love fear and uncertainty as well as the impossible turned real. I love nightmares in the flesh and syncretism taken to the extreme and explored in an honest way. I also love noir because it has good people pushed to doing bad things at its core. In my books, I make the rules, and my rules are that everything I love can coexist and work together beautifully if I work hard enough, so that's what I do.
RA for All: Can you suggest some of your favorite authors to my readers and tell us a little bit about each of them?
GI: I could fill a book with names and reasons! I won't do that here. Instead, I'll tell you about ten amazing authors with recent releases.
- Paul Tremblay. Is there anyone out there who still hasn't read Tremblay? If so, fix that as soon as possible. He is the king of uncertainty and knows how to scare you while pulling at your heartstrings.
- Laura Purcell. I read The Silent Companions at the beginning of the year and I'm still talking about it. Many authors try to nail creepy atmosphere and fail horribly. This novel is a master class on doing just that.
- C.V. Hunt. Folks who don't know better always refer to Hunt as a "he" because they can't fathom that level of gore and brutality coming from a women. Those who know better know anything a horror author can do a female horror author can do better.
- Matt Serafini. If you have a heart full of 80s slasher movies and novels, Serafini will be the best thing you discover this year.
- Stephen Graham Jones. I love to mix genres, and that means I want to be half as good as SGJ when I grow up.
- Brian Keene. One of the most influential horror authors and a superb nonfiction writer. No horror lover's education is complete without Keene.
RA for All: What is your latest release? What are you working on now [fiction and nonfiction]?
GI: My latest release is Coyote Songs. It's about the very angry ghost of a mother causing chaos on both sides of la frontera. It's the bloodiest, most violent, most emotionally gritty thing I've ever written. I'm now working on the next one. It's always the next one that matters, right? In the meantime I'll keep writing reviews for NPR, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Criminal Element, Crimespree Magazine, PANK Magazine, and many others while also running my columns, Show Me Your Shelves and Skin Stories for CLASH Media, writing intros, and writing pieces LitReactor.