Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Silvia Moreno-Garcia Author Interview

Photo Credit: Shimon

SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA is the author of the critically-acclaimed novel Signal to Noise and the short story collection This Strange Way of Dying, which was a finalist for the Sunburst Award in Canada. She was a finalist for the Manchester Fiction Prize, and a recipient of the Gloria Vanderbilt/Exile Award for Best Emerging Writer.


What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
English is my second language.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
Uh… which one? I’ve gone back to school like three times to do different certificates and even a Master’s degree. My MA is in Science and Technology Studies. You never stop learning stuff, I guess that’s the biggest lesson.

For those who are unfamiliar with your novel; CERTAIN DARK THINGS, how would you introduce it?
Narco vampires clash in Mexico City.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Domingo?
I was inspired to write Domingo because when I was a teenager in Mexico City, we met a group of street kids who washed car windows near my home. And also, my grandfather grew up real poor and he loved to read comic strips, especially Tarzan, so I gave Domingo a love for comic strips. He used to tell me how they were so poor his mom would buy the rotten bananas at the market, because that’s the only way they could afford them, when they were heavily discounted. But he escaped into comics, he became someone else, he was Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, and he was Flash Gordon saving Dale. And that’s Domingo. He’s a kid and he thinks he’s walked into a comic book adventure, but he doesn’t know he stepped into a noir film.

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
I’m not sure anyone has to tell a story, there’s a thousand other books coming out this month, probably. There’s an inherent narcissism in that feeling. But at the same time how many times have you read a Mexican vampire noir book? There’s probably some space to tell that story.

Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
I love Paris, where the food is great and the architecture is better. And I love going back to Mexico, Yucatan is beautiful, but the colonial cities are also lovely and the DF is a vast, grand monster. Vancouver is pretty great, but it gets a bit too soggy at one point. But, hey, no snow.

What's the memorable summer job you've ever had
I did not have a summer job. I started working as a teenager (freelance crap and then full-time work), very young, and have not stopped since.

When was the last time you cried?
At the movies, in this film about an elderly woman who has a terrible voice but wants to sing opera. I’m not much of a crier.

Welcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…

Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life.

Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, must feast on the young to survive and Domingo looks especially tasty. Smart, beautiful, and dangerous, Atl needs to escape to South America, far from the rival narco-vampire clan pursuing her. Domingo is smitten.

Her plan doesn’t include developing any real attachment to Domingo. Hell, the only living creature she loves is her trusty Doberman. Little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his effervescent charm.

And then there’s Ana, a cop who suddenly finds herself following a trail of corpses and winds up smack in the middle of vampire gang rivalries.

Vampires, humans, cops, and gangsters collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive?

Silvia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, has been selected as a finalist for the British Fantasy, Locus, Aurora and Solaris awards, and was named on seven year’s best lists in 2015: B&N’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, RT, BookRiot, Buzzfeed, io9, Vice, and Tor.com. She has also been nominated for a World Fantasy Award for her work on the anthology She Walks in Shadows.

Collecting garbage sharpens the senses. It allows us to notice what
others do not see. Where most people would spy a pile of junk, the rag- and- bone man sees trea sure: empty bottles that might be dragged to the recycling center, computer innards that can be reused, furniture in decent shape. Th e garbage collector is alert. After all, this is a profession. 

Domingo was always looking for garbage and he was always looking at people. It was his hobby. Th e people were, not the garbage. He would walk around Mexico City in his long, yellow plastic jacket with its dozen pockets, head bobbed down, peeking up to stare at a random passerby. 

Domingo tossed a bottle into a plastic bag, then paused to observe the patrons eating at a restaurant. He gazed at the maids as they rose with the dawn and purchased bread at the bakery. He saw the people with shiny cars zoom by and the people without any cash jump onto the back of the bus, hanging with their nails and their grit to the metallic shell of the moving vehicle. 

That day, Domingo spent hours outside, pushing a shopping cart with his findings, listening to his portable music player. It got dark and he bought himself dinner at a taco stand. Then it started to rain, so he headed into the subway station. 

He was a big fan of the subway system. He used to sleep in the subway cars when he first left home. Those days were behind. He had a proper place to sleep now, and lately he collected junk for an important rag- and- bone man, focusing on gathering used thermoplastic clothing. It was a bit harder to work the streets than it was to work a big landfill or ride the rumbling garbage trucks, sorting garbage as people stepped outside their houses and handed the collectors their plastic bags. A bit harder but not impossible, because there 
were small public trash bins downtown, because the restaurants left their garbage in the alleys behind them, and because people also littered the streets, not caring to chase the garbage trucks that made the rounds every other morning. A person with enough brains could make a living downtown, scavenging. 

Domingo didn’t think himself very smart, but he got by. He was well fed and he had enough money to buy tokens for the public baths once a week. He felt like he was really going places, but entertainment was still out of his reach. He had his comic books and graphic novels to keep him company, but most of the time, when he was bored, he would watch people as they walked around the subway lines. 

It was easy because few of them paid attention to the teenager leaning against the wall, backpack dangling from his left shoulder. Domingo, on the other hand, paid attention to every thing. He constructed lives for the passengers who shuffled in front of him as he listened to his music. This one looked like a man who worked selling life insurance, the kind of man who opened and closed his briefcase dozens of times during the day, handing out pamphlets and explanations. That one was a secretary, but she was not with a good firm because her shoes were worn and cheap. Here came a con artist and there went a lovelorn house wife. 

Sometimes Domingo saw people and things that were a bit scarier. There were gangs roaming the subway lines, gangs of kids about his age, with their tight jeans and baseball caps, rowdy and loud and for the most part dedicated to petty crimes. He looked down when those boys went by, his hair falling over his face, and they didn’t see him, because nobody saw him. It was just like with the regular passengers; Domingo melted into the tiles, the grime, the shadows.

After an hour of people watching, Domingo went to look at the large TV screens in the concourse. There were six of them, displaying different shows. He spent fifteen minutes staring at Japanese
music videos before it switched to the news. 

Six dismembered bodies found in Ciudad Ju├írez. Vampire drug wars rage on. 

Domingo read the headline slowly. Images fl ashed on the video screen of the subway station. Cops. Long shots of the bodies. The images dissolved, then showed a beautiful woman holding a can of soda in her hands. She winked at him. 

Domingo leaned against his cart and waited to see if the news show would expand on the drug war story. He was fond of yellow journalism. He also liked stories and comic books about vampires; they seemed exotic. There were no vampires in Mexico City: their kind had been a no-no for the past thirty years, ever since the old Federal District became a city- state, walling itself from the rest of the country. He still didn’t understand what a city- state was exactly, but it sounded important and the vampires stayed out. 

The next story was of a pop star, the singing sensation of the month, and then there was another ad, this one for a shoulder- bag computer. Domingo sulked and changed the tune on his music player. He looked at another screen with pictures of blue butterflies fl uttering around. Domingo took a chocolate from his pocket and tore the wrapper. 

He wondered if he shouldn’t head to Quinto’s party. Quinto lived nearby, and though his home was a small apartment, they were throwing an all- night party on the roof, where there was plenty of  space. But Quinto was friends with the Jackal, and Domingo didn’t want to see that guy. Besides, he’d prob ably have to contribute to the beer bud get. It was the end of the month. Domingo was short on cash. 

A young woman wearing a black vinyl jacket walked by him. She was holding a leash with a genetically modified Doberman. It had to be genetically modified because it was too damn large to be a regular dog. The animal looked mean and had a green bioluminescent tattoo running down the left side of its head, the kind of decoration that was all the rage among the hip and young urbanites. Or so the screens in the subway concourse had informed Domingo, fashion shows and news reels always eager to reveal what was hot and what was not. That she’d tattooed her dog struck him as cute, although perhaps it was expected: if you had a genetically modified dog you wanted people to notice it. 

Domingo recognized her. He’d seen her twice before, walking around the concourse late at night, both times with her dog. The way she moved, heavy boots upon the white tiles, bob- cut black hair, with a regal stance, it made him think of water. Like she was gliding on water. 

She turned her head a small fraction, glancing at him. It was only a glance, but the way she did it made Domingo feel like he’d been doused with a bucket of ice. Domingo stuff ed the remaining chocolate back in his pocket, took off his headphones, and pushed his cart, boarding her subway car. 

He sat across from the girl and was able to get a better look at her. She was about his age, with dark eyes and a full, stern mouth. She possessed high cheekbones and sharp features. Overall, her face was imposing and aquiline. There was a striking quality about her, but her beauty was rather cutting compared to the faces of the models he’d viewed in the ads. And she was a beauty, with that black hair and the dark eyes and the way she stood, so damn graceful. 

He noticed her gloves. Black vinyl that matched the jacket. 

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