V. is a force. The Mexican-American author now based in London regularly delivers stories with a Latinx flavour. Not one to sit idle; if she's not editing a collection, she's answering a Q&A session or appearing on a livestream video panel. If that wasn't enough, she continues to promote diversity, representation and inclusion in the horror genre. No hyperbole - I get a genuine sense that she's barely gotten started.
1. For those who don't know, who are you?
I’m Violet (V.Castro)! Mexican American woman from Texas now living in the UK. I write horror, erotica, erotic horror and science fiction.
2. Game talk – how do you organise and manage your game? How has it evolved?
I have children, so I get things done when I can. I prioritize the projects I have agreed to do followed by the longer pieces of fiction I’m working on. Short story calls are last.
When I first started it was very slow because I didn’t know anyone. I spent a lot of time just getting to know the writing community and how publishing worked. Now, I try to lift as many writers as possible, especially writers from marginalized communities. I’ve learned many lessons being a woman of color in publishing.
I also always write my authentic truth as a Latina. The story needs to be told.
3. Talk us through one of your biggest achievements in your game – give us the story behind it. How did it play out?
Biggest achievement has to be getting Queen of The Cicadas and Mestiza Blood picked up by Flame Tree Press. After sending the manuscript (Queen of The Cicadas) to many agents and having very close calls, it was not finding any traction. My heart was sinking because it is about the Latina experience. It is Mexican history. I was about to just give it up even though I felt so strongly about the story. Not one to ever want to give up, I took a chance with a few more publishers not expecting anything. Not even a few days later it was accepted and so was my short story collection that is about the Mexican American experience told through urban legend and folklore. Two blessings at once for my patience and determination.
I’d like to talk more about Question 2. As my writing journey unfolded, I noticed there were not many places giving women of color the spotlight. I wanted a space for stories, promotion, essays, reviews, and anything to lift voices left behind. With my friend Sonora Taylor, we created the website www.frightgirlsummer.com
This was right about the time when Black Lives Matter had a huge push (finally). Now on the website we have a space to highlight Black women and a page for Latinx Heritage Month. We have reading lists with books by women and women from marginalized communities. Women in dark fiction can shine here and promote their work for free. It is a true blessing for me to do this because I know how lonely publishing can be. I know the wait is the hardest part of the journey.
4. It's great if things go according to plan. Tell us about when it didn't; how did you handle it? What were/are those challenges?
There was an anthology call with big names I was so sure I had to be in. I thought the story was right and it had to be a win. I needed a win. Well, it was a rejection. I cried and felt insecure for a minute. But then I read it again. I just kept on writing until it became a novella. Goddess of Filth was born.
I was contacted by a publisher about a novel that I was shopping around, however, I wanted to send it to agents. In the end I offered them the novella and they loved it!
What is meant for us will come to us.
5. Give a pep-talk to someone on game in your field.
Don’t compare yourself to others. You may think you are on the same publishing journey, however, they are all different. We all evolve differently. With social media we are constantly bombarded with things that can make us feel inadequate, but the most important thing is to have your own vision and stick to it. Intuition goes a long way. If you are chasing someone else’s dream, you won’t get to yours.
Instagram and Twitter: @vlatinalondon
Goddess of Filth is released March 2021 (not long now!) and can be preordered.
Latinx Screams is OUT NOW. It is a Latinx horror anthology I co-edited with Cina Pelayo.
Queen of The Cicadas is out June 2021 and can be preordered.