Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Conversation with Silvia Moreno Garcia: the “golden age of social horror”

Danielle N. Bartholet

New York Times bestselling author, editor, and publisher Silvia Moreno-Garcia engaged in a conversation at the Boston Public Library to discuss her latest book “Silver Nitrate.” The discussion, held on Oct. 7 and moderated by Veronica Koven-Matasy of the Boston Public Library, covered topics from what horror as a genre of novels looks like in today’s publishing market to her own journey of writing horror. 

Moreno-Garcia shared her perspective on the definition of horror, saying how “context and history make the genre of horror,” discussing how seminal works of horror literature fit into a specific period of the history of the horror novel and also the process of writing overall. 

For her, the genre is not determined by asking “is it scary?” or by its inclusion of ghosts or zombies usually associated with the genre. Moreno-Garcia believes we are in “the golden age of social horror today,” touching on how the genre operates differently now than in decades past as “horror is being used as a frame to discuss social problems” in recent works, including her own. 

In her novel “Mexican Gothic,” she explores the themes of eugenics, colonialism, social norms, and gender roles all within the backdrop of 1950s Mexico.

“Realistic fiction is like painting with watercolors; fantastic literature is like painting with oils,” said Moreno-Garcia. “You’ll get a good painting with both, but it’s just different.” 

The author has written almost exclusively in the horror genre, with novels such as “The Daughter of Dr. Moreau” and “Mexican Gothic,” the latter reaching the New York Times Bestseller List. She has also written others in the fantasy realm, notably the novel “Gods of Jade and Shadow.” 

She says that fantastical elements add a new perception of the social issues when they are used to comment on the “true horrors” that people faced and continue to face in the world today. 

“Horror can allow you to see certain things more clearly,” Moreno-Garcia said.

Moreno-Garcia discussed her research methods, noting that her approach “varies by project” and that “certain periods are like black holes, especially in places such as Mexico, where certain things were not documented as well,” something that she experienced during her research for “Silver Nitrate.” She highlighted her reliance on interviews to gather information for the project. 

Another hallmark of her writing are her female characters and the inclusion of strong heroines within her novels. Moreno-Garcia had an interesting perspective on the idea of the female main character. 

“People want women to be feisty rather than passive, [but I strive to] reflect the complexities of navigating the world at different time periods,” she said.

Moreno-Garcia emphasized the importance of portraying authentic maturity in her female characters, challenging readers’ expectations about women in literature. She used the example of her protagonist, Noemi, in “Mexican Gothic,” explaining that she wanted Noemi to reflect the time that she lived in and her age as a young woman who may not have all the answers to the problems she faces at first. 

Following the conversation between Koven-Matasy and Moreno-Garcia, the two opened the floor for an audience Q&A. One attendee asked Moreno-Garcia for insight into the publishing industry as a woman and author of color and the possible challenges she faced while publishing her horror novels. 

Moreno-Garcia highlighted the evolving diversity within the horror novel fan base, yet underscored the persisting imbalances in the publishing industry. She attributed these disparities to financial dynamics and purchasing influence. 

As her parting words of wisdom, she fervently urged the audience to actively support authors of color by purchasing their works. In doing so, she stressed, we can collectively pave the way for greater inclusivity and ensure that authors of color rightfully claim their space in the literature world. She also gave hope for the future of the industry, as she insists “it’s getting better” and the industry is becoming more diverse and open to all writers from all backgrounds.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

The Berkeley Beacon intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. We welcome strong opinions and criticism that are respectful and constructive. Comments are only posted once approved by a moderator and you have verified your email. All users are expected to adhere to our comment section policy. READ THE FULL POLICY HERE: https://berkeleybeacon.com/comments/
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *