Interview—Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Innsmouth Free Press is a fun blog for matters pertaining to Lovecraft, as well as all things genre-related.   According to the website, it’s a collaborative effort, with the publishers’  striving  to have ” readers and writers help us map out and flesh out Innsmouth and the surrounding area, and to do it in epistolary form through news stories, opinion pieces, lifestyles articles, which blur the boundaries between fantasy and reality. Metafiction, if you will.” Besides the blog, Innsmouth Free Press is also an ezine publishing short fiction, and soon an anthology, Historical Lovecraft.

I thought I would ask publisher Silvia Moreno-Garcia, who has her own handsomely designed webpage,  some questions about herself and writings.

Stewart Sternberg: Innsmouth Free Press is a great concept, not just for lovers of Lovecraft, but for all fans of dark fiction. How did this project come into being? What are you most proud of regarding Innsmouth Press.What future projects is Innsmouth engaged in?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Thanks! Innsmouth came to be because of a conversation I was having with Paula R.Stiles, who is our editor-in-chief. I told her I wished there was a TV series set in Innsmouth, with weird stuff happening every week. We convinced each other we should launch a zine and it should be horror-themed. We would publish Lovecraftian fiction three times a year and daily non-fiction. We’d also have sporadic meta-fiction masquerading as “news” items from Innsmouth.

I’m proud of everything! The non-fiction writers are fantastic. The people who do the “Monster Bytes” come up with the most bizarre ideas. We also release fiction issues, and we’ve had excellent cover artists and awesome writers. Nick Mamatas, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ekaterina Sedia. We make this on a dime and a prayer, so I’m very happy to see  the final product is a very nice little zine.

Future projects? Books. There is an open call for submissions for Historical Lovecraft right now, which will be the first anthology under the Innsmouth brand. In December, Fraterfamilias, a thriller with speculative elements, is coming out. It was published a few years back and is not available anymore, so I’m bringing it back to print.

In 2011 there will be some more anthologies. One of them is going to be a Gothic anthology. I’m very excited about this, since I love Gothic tales and the cover will be amazing. I have Nacho Molina Parra working on it. He makes beautiful illustrations.

Stewart: Tell me something about yourself…you’re married, you live in Canada— is your writing and publishing your sole focus, or do you have another job?

Silvia: Oh, I have another job, for sure. I work in communications. Most of what I do is layout and design. Everything from putting a book together to updating the content of a website. It’s a small office, so I get to wear several hats.

I like to publish the zine, and I’m moving into publishing books, because I get to do stuff that I can’t do at my job. There’s not much room for fish-people and horror in my line of work. Or paperbacks. It’s like having a secret identity. I’m Batman!

Stewart: Any plans to take one of your stories, such as “Bloodlines” (published in Fantasy Magazine) and expand it into a novel? Or are you working on another idea for a longer piece?

Silvia:Crikey. I must admit I’m horrible at novels. I just can’t sustain the will to write for more than 20,000 words. After that, I get restless. I don’t get people who can do whole sagas about something.

Ironically, I’ve seen people say my short stories read like the beginning of novels. Or would make for better novels, than short stories. I think I’ve even had that on a rejection slip. I may be suffering from novel-amputation.

With that said, I have one novel that I’m planning to send out to agents this fall. It’s called Proper People, and it’s about four sisters testing the boundaries of what is “proper” in early 20th century Mexico. It is magic realism; it has a ghost, witchcraft and romance. I’m not sure how hot the market for magic realism is right now. Probably rather cold. If I had any sense, I would have written a zombie opus, zombies seem to be a hot ticket item, but there you go.

I’ll also probably focus on my novel Blood Week. It employs some of the characters and the setting I’ve used in a couple of stories. It’s a near-future Mexico in which vampires are real. There’s drug-dealing, coyotes and maquila factories. There’s a murder that the cops don’t care to solve, so the protagonist has to solve it herself.

Stewart: I asked this question of someone else, but I am compelled to ask it of you…are there dominant themes in you writing which you keep returning to? If so, what are they? Why do you think that is?

Silvia) I use Mexico as a setting quite frequently. I also use Vancouver.  I haven’t sold any of my stories set in Vancouver. So, if you read the stuff I’ve published, you’d see a lot of stuff set in Mexico.

Thematically, I like to write quiet stories. I’m not a bang-bang kind of writer. I love, love Shirley Jackson. Stuff that is slow and builds up layer by layer. Sometimes my mother makes fun of me because of that. She’d rather that I have more shooting and spaceships going woooosh.

Stewart: Do you believe in the supernatural yourself, or is it just a fun genre for you? And have you ever had a supernatural experience?

Silvia: I don’t believe in it and I kind of believe in it. When I was growing up my great-grandmother would tell me stories about her childhood during the Mexican Revolution. She talked about witches, ghosts, shape-changers and chaneques matter-of-factly. She’d tell me about the time witches in the shape of great balls of fire perched themselves in the trees outside her house. Or about the evil spirits living in a well. I think for her it was all real. As real, or more real, than things like a phonograph or a radio.

I grew up believing certain fantastic things were true.

Now that I’m older, I have obviously realized that there’s no danger of being ambushed by angry ghosts in the forest. But I’m not quite ready to let go of all this. I still cling to some superstitions. However, I’m  very blasé about the supernatural. I don’t tremble in fear of ghosts.

The one weird incident I can recall? I saw a tall, dark shadow standing in my room. Instead of screaming, I told the shadow it was way too frakking early to be bugging me and went back to sleep. I’m sure it was just a vivid dream, but that tells you something about my subconscious.

Oh, and I have a good shadow people story. It’s not personal, mind you. But maybe that’s better left for another time. I’m starting to sound like my great-grandmother now, ha.

Stewart: Favorite living horror writer or fantasy writer?

Silvia: Tanith Lee. She is so damn versatile. She has written sci-fi, horror and fantasy. I love her Flat Earth series. It’s been reprinted by Norilana by the way, which is awesome. She’s also done several vampire stories which are quite good.

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