Latinx Horror: Interview with Sergio Gomez
Born in Mexico but raised in the United States, Sergio Gomez lives in Philadelphia with his family. He enjoys reading, martial arts, looking up recipes, cooking, but most of all writing. His favorite genres are horror and coming-of-age. Depending on the day and mood, his favorite superhero is either Batman or Hellboy.
What inspired you to start writing?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved telling stories and making up worlds and characters in my head. Once I started reading “chapter books” in elementary school, I fell in love with the art form. I fell in love with the way words can transport readers into these worlds where the only limitation is the author’s ability to push the readers’ imaginations.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
I think a number of things drew me into the horror genre. For starters, the whole Mexican culture I was born into. Stories of La Llorona, Los Channeques, brujas, etc. were the norm growing up.
I think that’s the roots of my love of the genre, but in adulthood, I really like the constant sense of danger in the stories. No one ever feels “safe” in a horror movie or book. For me, at least, this is one of the main things that makes the genre so exciting for me. You never know what will happen—or who will live.
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’m not sure if it’s a conscious effort so much as it’s me following the old adage of “write what you know.” I grew up in the 90s, reading scifi from the 80s and 90s, and I’m sure most people are aware of this, but Latinx folks weren’t exactly represented in books in that era. What I try to do is emulate the storytelling of the books that molded me as a writer, but at the same time writing things I’m familiar with. Of course, because I’m Mexican that means a lot of Mexican culture finds its way into my stories.
What has writing horror taught you about the world and yourself?
Writing horror—and especially connecting with the community on social media—has really taught me a lot about who enjoys horror. I don’t know if I necessarily had a preconceived notion on who horror fans were before, but I’m surprised to find out how diverse the community is!
The main thing it’s taught me about myself is how therapeutic it is to write in the genre. As much as I’ve loved writing my whole life, I’ve never been one to keep a journal or write out my feelings. For me, personally, transposing whatever it is I might be going through (sadness, anxiety, loneliness, whatever) onto a fictional character and exploring those thoughts through them is soothing. I didn’t really realize how true this was until I went back to reread some of my darker work and remembered where I was when I wrote it.
How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
The horror genre nowadays seems to be a lot more diverse and progressive. I see a lot of Black, Latinx, Asian, etc. characters in stories I’m picking up at random.
I think it will continue to evolve in this way, and we’ll keep seeing characters from groups that weren’t as represented 5 or 10 years ago in the future.
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 the Latinx community is getting more and more representation. I’m especially excited to see readers getting introduced to stories and legends that I’ve been familiar with my whole life. The hopes I have for representation in the future is to see it go more mainstream.
Who are some of your favorite Latinx characters in horror?
Maya from V. Castro’s books Hairspray & Switchblades;
Fernando from Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias was a really fun narrator.
Who are some Latinx horror authors you recommend our audience check out?
What is one piece of advice you would give horror authors today?
Finish your manuscript. Worry about how good it is later.
And to the Latinx writers out there who are just getting started, what advice would you give them?
Write what you know and love. Make sure the story you’re writing is something you would want to read, and don’t let anyone put you into any kind of box.