Latinx Heritage in Horror: Interview with Ashley Dioses
Ashley Dioses is a writer of dark poetry and fiction from southern California. She is the author of Diary of a Sorceress, a collection of dark fantasy and horror poetry, and The Withering, a collection of psychological horror and supernatural horror poetry. Her third and latest collection, Darkest Days and Haunted Ways was just released from Jackanapes Press. Her poetry has appeared in Weird Fiction Review, Cemetery Dance Publications, Weirdbook, Black Wings VI: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, and others. Her poem “Cobwebs,” was mentioned in Ellen Datlow’s recommended Best Horror of the Year Volume Twelve list. She has also appeared in the Horror Writers Association Poetry Showcases 2016 and 2020 for her poems “Ghoul Mistress” and “Her Heart that Flames Would Not Devour” respectively. She was also a nominee for the 2019 Pushcart Prize. She is an Active member in the HWA and a member of the SFPA.
What inspired you to start writing?
My dad used to write poetry and stories and he read it to me and my brother when we were little. He encouraged our imaginations and creativity and it stuck with me. I was an avid reader of fantasy when I was young, also encouraged by my dad, and that helped spark my creativity.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
My dad was a big fantasy and horror fan and reader and once he thought I was old enough to transition to reading horror, which was probably around eight years old, he began to show me Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Not everything my dad tried to get me to read held my interest however, (eight is not a good age to start with Clive Barker’s The Books of Blood, for instance) so I started to look toward books at my age level such as Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Once I found the right material for me, I began to explore more options every time I had the opportunity.
Do you make a conscious effort to include LatinX characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
As primarily a poet, I don’t often write characters, but I do love exploring various themes and myths from various cultures, including LatinX. Though I have not written as many pieces with LatinX themes as I’d like, it is always on my mind to try to incorporate more into my work.
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
Writing horror has taught me to search for the suppressed shadows of myself and pull them to the surface so that others may know that they are not alone in sharing them. Sharing hidden feelings, suppressed memories, trauma, and underlying fears can be therapeutic when written out and shared with others.
How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
The major changes I’ve seen through the horror genre are more publishers, more zines and ezines, and more anthologies. I’ve also seen more openness to diversity, especially in open calls as well as in the editors and publishers creating new venues to submit to. I hope this will continue to evolve and we continue to hear new voices.
How do you feel the LatinX community has been represented thus far in the genre and what hopes do you have for representation in the genre going forward?
I feel that while it has been improving, LantinX’s representation in the horror field still has a ways to go. Organizations like the HWA, however, are making a tangible contribution to the representation of these writers, such as shedding light on individual authors in these spotlights. I feel that the future is brighter for LatinX representation in horror literature.
Who are some of your favorite LatinX characters in horror?
Rosita Espinoza from The Walking Dead is the first character who comes to mind. Joel from The Last of Us is another favorite as well as Gomez and Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family.
Who are some LatinX horror authors you recommend our audience check out?
Manuel Paul Arenas, Migene Gonzalez-Wippler, Pedro Iniguez, and Gabino Iglesias are authors I’d recommend reading.
What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
Surrounding yourself with other authors is a great way to get advice on writing as well as information regarding open submissions in the genres and themes that you may write in. However, other authors are more than likely not your target audience, and filling your social media with just other authors will not always expand your readership.
And to the LatinX writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
Don’t be afraid to write about experiences and themes from your culture because you feel it won’t connect with readers. What you write will connect with the readers it needs to connect with.
Check out Ashley’s blog here.