“All my stories are autobiographical,” says genre writer and editor Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Given that many of them feature giant penguins, jaguar women, shape-shifting monsters, and vampires, this might seem a jarring statement. But the Mexico-born, Vancouver-based writer and editor comes from a literary tradition in which everyday life and the fantastic are overlapped and fused. Raised on Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, pulp novels, and Latin American magical realism, Moreno-Garcia developed an appetite for genre works at an early age, further stoked by her great-grandmother’s imaginative retellings of Mexican folklore and history.
“She would say things like, ‘This is what happened to me that time I saw a flying snake,’” says Moreno-Garcia. As a five- or six-year-old child, you’re never thinking, ‘That’s not true.’”
This deft balance between reality, fantasy, and familiar genre tropes exists in every aspect of Moreno-Garcia’s work. In her upcoming debut novel, Signal to Noise (Simon & Schuster Canada), awkward teens learn how to cast spells by playing records. She’s working on a second novel, Young Blood, which fuses vampire lore with the all-too-real narcoculture in Mexico City. These mashups also appear in Moreno-Garcia’s editorial work: she recently edited two Exile Editions anthologies that merge Canadian culture with zombies (2013’s Dead North) and the end of the world (2014’s Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse).
Next up, Moreno-Garcia is releasing an all-female anthology of Lovecraftian short fiction under her own publishing imprint, Innsmouth Free Press (itself named after a Lovecraft story). She hopes the anthology will help effectively re-interpret Lovecraft’s notoriously male-dominated universe.
“I wanted not only female writers, but women who wrote female characters,” she says. “I have met these women. I know they’re out there.” – Alison Lang