I guess the story must also be affecting. And I guess I mean that stories need to be less plot-driven and more driven by emotion. The best stories that I return to again and again are stories that give less plot and storyline but through the deep use of language and care for the main character makes me feel the most. The work has to be character driven and affecting to create a true immersive experience to compete with films and television and more visual mediums.
What themes do you explore in your stories?
I’m most interested in self-destruction. I guess that’s pretty negative. But I think the stories that I’m most drawn to are ones where folks are in the process of being tested or breaking down. Most of my stories are about family and the positive and negative effects family can have on the young Latino male. I’m also interested in delinquent parenting which is a big problem within the Latino community.
The lack of positive male figures is another concern I try to approach in my stories. I’m also interested in trouble that finds folks as well as the trouble folks are more than happy to find. I’m interested in characters and folks in my stories who only seem to live for the moment rather than for the long haul of a responsible and work-filled life. I can’t help but think folks would rather try and win the lottery than work for a consistent paycheck.
I’m also interested in the cruelty of adults as it plays out on younger folks. I’m also interested in how complicated human relationships can be. At one turn negative and destructive and at another hopeful and uplifting. Finding the playful within darker and more hurtful moments. I think we do that to survive.
Do you think short story collections have been ignored by publishers?
I’ve been told novels are easier to sell. And my work reads as a novel in that it is composite and follows the same characters. It’s literary, which I’m told is a negative. I’ve been told that a genre novel is more marketable and easier to sell. I’ve been told there aren’t enough literary readers. I’ve been told to study markets and try to fill a void or contribute to an established readership. I’ve been told this by other writers and publishers’ websites.
So my work is literary and also about Latino families which I only see as a strength. You have to find your readers I imagine. I mostly feel that works by Latinos and work that has code shifting between English and Spanish is overlooked as well. Sad because I feel it is how people actually speak in Colorado. But I think the work has to satisfy the writer and has to represent the author’s neighborhoods if it’s to be any good.