Latinx Heritage in Horror: Interview with Pedro Iniguez
Pedro Iniguez is a Mexican-American horror and science-fiction writer from Los Angeles, California. He is a Rhysling Award finalist and has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Award for his speculative poetry. His fiction and poetry has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Never Wake: An Anthology of Dream Horror, Shadows Over Main Street 3, A Night of Screams: Latino Horror Stories, Worlds of Possibility, Tiny Nightmares, Star*Line, Speculative Fiction for Dreamers, and Infinite Constellations, among others. He can be found online at www.pedroiniguezauthor.com
What inspired you to start writing?
Growing up sheltered and overprotected as a child, I didn’t get to go outside a lot so I quickly made friends with my books, comic books, and action figures. My imagination ran wild during my childhood years but it wasn’t until college when I’d start scribbling down little flash fiction pieces in class that I began to take an interest in writing. I met Dennis Etchison, the late great horror writer who mentored me and put me on the path I’m on now.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
I’ve always been drawn to scary stuff. Growing up afraid of the dark, bedtime was an interesting time when my fears would run loose in my head. Things like Nickelodeon’s “Are you Afraid of the Dark?” and the Goosebumps books and TV show really gripped me at an early age and never let go.
Do you make a conscious effort to include LatinX characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?
I do. Growing up there weren’t too many people in fiction that looked like me or had similar names to mine. I try to portray Latinx characters like anyone else in the real world. They can be as noble or corrupt as the next person. Obviously, they just come from different cultural backgrounds, but they remain people just like you or me.
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
About the world: That it remains a puzzle that will never be solved. Writing allows you to dig deep into the state of the world, its people, and the bad things that happen to them. You come away understanding more yet, curiously, even more puzzled at the same time, if that makes sense.
About myself: I’ve learned that perseverance can obliterate most obstacles. That even on days when I feel like giving up, determination gets me to where I need to be. Writing is a war of attrition. You just have to keep on grinding it out, and eventually, you’ll achieve whatever you set out to write. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to get done.
How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
I’ve been writing since 2009. I remember a lack of diversity in many magazines and anthologies I was in. Sometimes I’d be the only person of color on a ToC. That has certainly changed in the last decade. I’m happy to see many more diverse voices getting published across the board. I believe we’re heading the right way, but more work needs to be done, especially when it comes to seeing PoC picked up by major market publishers, getting agent deals, and so on.
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’ve loved what I’ve seen so far. Many more authors have been getting the recognition they’ve so long deserved. I’m talking about Stoker nominations, wins, and getting featured on podcasts and interviews. It makes me happy to see their success.
Who are some of your favorite LatinX characters in horror?
I think Mario from Gabino Iglesias’s The Devil Takes You Home is a wonderful character. He is burdened by debt, loves his family, and is willing to do whatever it takes to help them, yet, he also spirals into some morally dark areas and struggles to keep his humanity intact. I think that kind of nuance and honesty is important to representing Latinx characters. We are imperfect. We are complex and that’s what makes for rich characters.
Who are some LatinX horror authors you recommend our audience check out?
The list is too long and would be a disservice to the ones that don’t get mentioned, so I’m glad that interviews like this spotlight people who might normally get overlooked. I will say that there is a wealth of authors with unique, powerful voices waiting to be read. Seek them out. You will not be disappointed.
What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
Don’t stop. Keep going. Your future self will thank you. After all, that’s who you’re doing it for.
And to the LatinX writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
I repeat: Don’t stop. Keep going. Your future self will thank you. After all, that’s who you’re doing it for.