Horror Writers Association Blog

Latinx Horror: Interview with S. Alessandro Martinez


S. Alessandro Martinez is an author of Mexican and Spanish descent, and a native Southern Californian with Autism/Asperger’s who writes horror and fantasy for adults and children. His writings have appeared in several magazines and anthologies such as Sanitarium, Jitter, Deadman’s Tome, and Indiana Horror Review. He enjoys writing about all sorts of horror, especially about unspeakable creatures, body-horror, and supernatural terror. He also enjoys writing fantasy. He has a fantastical world of his own creation filled with stories of mystical and terrible creatures, wondrous cultures and races, and powerful magic. Helminth is his debut novel.

Find him online at salessandromartinez.com and on social media at @The_Morda_Shin on Twitter and @salessandromartinezwriter on FB.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve been a voracious reader ever since I was little. You can ask my family about that! My mom always says she could take me anywhere, give me a book, and I wouldn’t make a peep. Growing up, I just read more and more, getting lost in books whenever I could. In high school, I wondered if I could ever create my own worlds and my own characters. I had explored so many fantastical places between pages over the years, I wanted to start making my own. Writing was a hobby here and there for years until I met the woman who would later become my wife. She encouraged me and inspired me to take my writing to the next level and become a published author.

What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved horror and creepy things. Jack Skellington was my hero. I was always reading Goosebumps, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, etc. when I was little (and other horror books I shouldn’t have read when I was little; Stephen King, Clive Barker, Bentley Little). My birthday is November 1st, the day after Halloween, so the birthday parties my mom threw for me were always Halloween themed growing up. She loved spooky stuff as well and always tried to go all out for Halloween every year. My grandpa would often take me to the video store to rent movies, and I always went straight to the horror section, enthralled by all the VHS covers with zombies, monsters, blood, graveyards, slashers, demons and other spooky things on them. I would rent those movies, since my grandpa let me get whatever I wanted. Sure, I got nightmares, but it was worth it. I’m not sure exactly what initially drew me into horror, but these things definitely fostered my obsession.

Do you make a conscious effort to include Latinx characters and themes in your writing and if so, what do you want to portray?

Since I’m Mexican, I do try to put Mexican characters in many my stories. I have several stories planned where the main protagonists are Mexican. As for themes, I have to say that when it comes to writing, I’m a pantser. I don’t consciously think of themes I want to include in a story, I just let them naturally emerge. In the future, however, I do want to write some novels that focus on elements of Mexican culture.

What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?

Writing horror has taught me that anything can be scary as long as you know how to present it. I’ve also learned that not everyone is as tolerant (even other horror-lovers) of horror, blood, gore, and disturbing things as I am haha.

How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?

Horror continues to grow as a genre. I feel like more and more people are getting into horror all the time. Don’t get me wrong, horror has been prominent for quite some time, but it seems like right now, horror is bigger than ever. And I love that. We’re getting tons of horror movies, books, video games, comic books, etc. It’s awesome! And not only that, but horror is getting more and more diverse with creators of many different backgrounds and viewpoints who are gifting us fresh, new concepts and ideas. I hope horror continues on this path. And maybe, just maybe, horror will get the recognition is deserves and a whole section to itself at bookstores.

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 think we could always use more representation. But like I said earlier, we’re seeing more and more diversity as time goes on. Creators from lots of different backgrounds are sharing their cultures, giving us tons of new material to explore. Every culture has their own take on horror with unique legends, folklore, classic tales, and monsters. Being Mexican, I know that the country my family came from has a plethora of things to bring to the horror genre like La Llorona, Chupacabra, Huay Chivo, La Pascualita, El Cucuy, tons of ghost stories, cryptids, and more. Then we can delve into the mythologies of the Mayans and Aztecs. So many things! And we’re starting to see mainstream movies, shows, books, and video games dealing with these sorts of stories, which I love seeing. I hope this continues and that we see even more, as well as having more Latinx creators in the spotlight.

Who are some of your favorite Latinx characters in horror?

Some of my favorites are Pablo (Ash vs. Evil Dead), Jesus Gris (Cronos), Carlos Oliveira (Resident Evil), Alucarda (Alucarda), Sebastian Castellanos (The Evil Within), Garcia Hotspur (Shadows of the Damned), Isabela Keyes (Dead Rising), and the vampires from From Dusk Till Dawn!

Who are some Latinx horror authors you recommend our audience check out?

Definitely check out Cynthia Pelayo, Gabino Iglesias, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, V. Castro, and Gaby Triana.

What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?

Don’t be afraid to write what you want to write. Horror is endless and takes infinite forms.

And to the Latinx writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?

Write and read and read and write. Read as much as you can, read outside the genres you write in, read authors from different backgrounds than yourself. Always carry a notepad or have a note app on your phone. You never know when an idea will strike, and trust me, you will NOT remember it later. Then you’ll kick yourself. Don’t be afraid to talk to other authors. And most of all, persevere.

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