The fabulous Silvia Moreno-Garcia, editor, author, publisher, all-round multi-talented person, has a new book out: Certain Dark Things.
You need it.
1. First of all, what do new readers need to know about Silvia Moreno-Garcia?
My debut novel, Signal to Noise, about magic and music, came out last year and did very well critically. Locus finalist, top 10 lists, etc. Before that I wrote short stories and my collection This Strange Way of Dying was a finalist for a Sunburst Award. I also edit anthologies and was guest editor for a special issue of Nightmare, out now. My second novel is Certain Dark Things.
2. What inspired Certain Dark Things?
I wrote a story for a vampire anthology called Evolve 2 a few years back. The story was called “A Puddle of Blood” and was about a teenage garbage collector who bumps into a vampire in Mexico City. Like most things I write about, it was inspired by my life. Isn’t everything autobiographical at some point or every point? Anyway, the inspiration were the street kids that begged for money at a nearby intersection near my home, as well as the Mexican noir movies I watched or read as a teen.
The characters were still interesting to me and I wanted to expand the original idea, so it became a novel.
3. How does it differ from your debut novel Signal to Noise?
Someone who read it for review purposes said the only thing they have in common is they both take place in Mexico City.
Signal to Noise is a quiet, little novel about teenagers who cast magic spells using vinyl records, and then reunite as adults. It’s a story about growing pains, both in our adolescence and our later years, since I don’t think we ever stop growing, or that the aches of our youth simply disappear.
Certain Dark Things is an urban fantasy, it’s a bit noir, and it has a different vibe.There’s a vampire on the run so you get people killing each other, cops getting involved. Mexico City *is* a noir novel, so I hope the book captures that a bit.
4. Can you remember the first vampire story you ever read and what effect it had on you?
I can’t remember the first thing I read, but I remember the first story I heard. My great-grandmother used to narrate movies to me. She was illiterate, but she liked films. So for a bed time story instead of reading me something, she might tell me Frankenstein, as she saw it in movie theatres back in 1931. The story got changed, of course, in the telling.
She narrated a vampire movie for me once and that was my first vampire story. I thought it had probably been a Christopher Lee movie, but now I think that it’s likely she was re-telling The Vampire’s Coffin, which is a Mexican film starring Germán Robles. Or maybe she was just amalgamating different movies. Anyway, the book is dedicated to Robles.
5. Do you prefer long form to short?
Whatever gets the job done, although I don’t like to write using the same characters or universe, and I like to jump between categories a lot, so shorts have been really good for that. Now that I’m writing novels I’m planning on being a stand-alone novelist.
6. You’ve recently graduated with a Masters in Science and Tech – does your academic work/interest bleed into your fiction at all?
I have to clarify that I got my degree part-time, because I have a full-time job. So I am not an ‘academic’ by trade, I am not going to be a teacher probably ever. I work in communications, and specifically in the field of science. Because I am surrounded by science, I don’t write as much science fiction as I write horror or fantasy, simply because I get to deal with science all the time in a different capacity. I don’t want to go home and take my ‘work’ with me, so to speak. With that said, my scholarly interests are in history of science and specifically the biological sciences at the beginning of the 20th century. My thesis was on eugenics, women and the work of Lovecraft. At some point I want to do an “eugenic” romance novel because I’ve seen snide comments about science fiction and how “hard science” is the way to go, oh, and don’t mix any romance into the plot. I’ll probably do the complete opposite of what you are supposed to do, write a period and science accurate eugenics novel with a big love story.
7. You recently published She Walks in Shadows, a revisiting of female characters in Lovecraft’s work – what inspired that?
Someone on a popular Lovecraft board wondered if women just didn’t like writing Mythos stories and that’s why there weren’t very many women writers. People had a hard time mentioning even one Mythos story written by women. So we decided to show people that there are women writers, and have them write about women. The horror scene is still very male-dominated. It’s not unusual to see anthologies where all 20 writers are men. Our hope was She Walks in Shadows, which has now been re-issued in the USA as Cthulhu’s Daughters, allows people to discover writers they have never heard about and inspire women to write horror stories. There are very many themed anthologies these days, everything from Steampunk Cthulhu to Welsh Cthulhu, and this theme seemed a lot more cohesive than other ones I’ve encountered.
8. Name your five favourite books.
I hate doing lists because I change my mind and I just don’t like lists. With that said, books I’ve re-read a bunch of times are Lolita and Madame Bovary, I have a love affair with them. I own a lot of Tanith Lee books from the 80s, I thought she was fabulous, and I also have many things by Daphne du Maurier. I like Mexican noir novels and crime fiction, which means stuff like Paco Ignacio Taibo II and Rolo Diez. I also like to read crap. I mean really crap, pulp fiction books I find for a dime at used bookstores, although all the used bookstores seem to be disappearing.
9. What’s the Canadian spec-fic scene like?
The literature scene (and spec scene too) is in Toronto and I live on the other side of the country, so there’s really not much going on here. I like it this way, I don’t know if I’d be able to stand being part of any scene. It seems like literature in Canada is a lot about applying for grants, to be honest, and I am not good at that. So I just do my own thing and keep to the west coast.
10. What’s next for Silvia Moreno-Garcia?
Thomas Dunne, which is publishing Certain Dark Things, also bought my third novel, Proper People. The first draft is finished, so I’ll be doing rewrites in the summer or fall. It’s a romance inspired by the Belle Epoque. I’ve also begun work on my fourth novel, which has no title yet and which I’m calling a multi-generational horror novel.
Bio: Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, about music, magic and Mexico City, was listed as one of the best novels of the year at io9, Buzzfeed and many other places. It won a Copper Cylinder Award and was nominated for the British Fantasy, Locus, Sunburst and Aurora awards. Her second novel, Certain Dark Things, will be out October 25, 2016.