Latinx Heritage in Horror: Interview with Romina Garber
Romina Garber is a New York Times and international bestselling author whose books include Lobizona & the ZODIAC series. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and raised in Miami, Florida, Romina landed her first writing gig as a teen—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.
Find her online at:
- IG: @rominagarber
- Twitter: @rominarussell
- FB: @rominabooks
What inspired you to start writing?
I was born in Buenos Aires, and I immigrated to the U.S. with my family when I was five, but I was in fourth grade when I truly heard the English language for the first time. My teacher read to us from Shel Silverstein’s masterpiece Where the Sidewalk Ends, and I fell in love with words. I wrote my first poem that year, “Si yo fuera la luz,” and my Spanish teacher liked it so much that she submitted it to a writing contest at the local county fair, and I won first place! Haven’t stopped writing since.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
I was drawn to writing about werewolves and witches because I wanted to explore the immigrant aspect of paranormal identities. Since technically creatures like brujas and vampiros and lobizones are part-human and part-supernatural, they inhabit two worlds and must navigate dual heritages. I wanted to allegorize this hybridization to paint a picture about the immigrant identity.
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 think for me it’s less about writing specifically Latinx stories and more about creating a space where our differences are celebrated. My first series, ZODIAC, is set in a galaxy where each astrological sign is its own planetary system, so its people live in different worlds but share one universe. I wrote it as an allegory for the nations of our own planet, and I wanted to call out the destructive power of prejudism and xenophobia.
What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
Never give up! In my 20s, I wrote five complete fantasy novels over the span of 8.5 years, and every single one of them was rejected—but if I’d given up after the fifth book, I never would have made it to ZODIAC! So if you’re feeling defeated by rejection, hang in there and hold on for your YES!
And to the Latinx writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
My advice: Trust yourself. One of my early rejected manuscripts was the predecessor to LOBIZONA, a book entitled Yellow Eyes. When I tried to find representation for it, I was told by an agent I trusted that teens in the U.S. don’t care to read about Argentine immigrants. I’m not sure they realized that in saying that, they weren’t just talking about my characters but about me. Over a decade later, I decided to rewrite that book, and I’m so glad I did. Trust your instincts, and never give up on your stories!