1. What have you learned by watching Youtube videos this week?
Funny you should ask that. I use YouTube for both entertainment and research (sometimes they are the same thing!) and last night I investigated the “urban fantasy” literary genre, as people close to me have told me that my fiction could be classified as such. One of the writers interviewed explained how “the dark forests” of older literatures have been replaced by even darker urban spaces, such as foreboding alleys and subterranean environments.
This transition and the need for it fascinate me.
And that a major distinction between classic fantasy and the new more brazen urban style is that the urbanized genre permits a lot of space for sex in the plot, whereas in the older style sex was nearly taboo or just omitted. So now my imagination is really unraveling! I began writing my next novel, which is set in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and as I started out as an erotica writer and drifted away from that to explore other things, all the threads are coming back together now.
2. How did you connect with Puerto Rico?
I connected with Puerto Rico later in life, in 2009 actually, and stayed on the western coast. During that trip alone I saw San Juan, Arecibo and La Cueva del Río Camuy, Quebradillas, Aguadilla, Rincón, Mayagüez, Cabo Rojo, Boquerón, San Germán, Sabana Grande, and Ponce. We almost made it to Juana Díaz where my father was born but didn’t quite make it. And most of those places have since become locations for a series of short terror stories I’m developing alongside the new novel.
The Puerto Rican writer Mayra Santos Febres called me in 2011, regarding her Festival de la Palabra, and how she really wanted to bring programming to New York. So I met with her and José Manuel Fajardo, the programmer, and was hired to coordinate dates in New York after the San Juan dates wrapped. I’ve since made numerous friends on the island that have helped me to reconnect to it Puerto Rico in various ways. I connected to Puerto Rico, in short, through writing and my love of literature.
3. What is your favorite music to write to?
I like writing in silence, as much as New York City will allow me. But when I do play music it cannot have vocals. Symphonic music, electronica, I’ve used before.
4. Describe your favorite writing and why this appeals to you (novelists).
This is a tough one because I read all over the place. But to give you an example of one style I like, I’ll refer to the great Belgian crime writer Georges Simenon. What I love about his style of writing (20th century) is how he, with such filed down economy, can paint a scene, the characters in that scene, and the feeling that permeates it, in half a paragraph. He’s just genius.
I’ve read about six or seven of his Inspector Maigret Parisian crime novellas and novels in the past and recently came across one of his more better known “romans durs” (hard novels) called The Strangers in the House. The romans durs were existential and dark forays into the crime itself and the characters surrounding it, but also of the narrator’s psyche.
That’s how I like my fiction. Thrilling. Not just in the tone and voice that can make it tantalizing, but the philosophical threads that keep it feeling fresh for years to come. And that’s why so many 19th-century novelists will never go out of vogue, because life and the world keep recycling our miseries and anxieties and Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Goethe, and Melville will always have something eternal to teach us about our own humanity.
5. What are your 3 favorite rituals to ignite your creativity?
Walking, reading, riding the subway. I do all three a lot!
6. What did you wake up loving today?
Me desperté amando la primavera, darling. And life.