Single Question Interview: Cynthia Pelayo

Is your heritage reflected in your writing?

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In short, yes. I’m not sure if a lot of people who read my work understand that. I try to not make it obvious that I’m Hispanic in my biography and marketing materials. I don’t want people to avoid my fiction because for whatever reason they haven’t read much fiction by other Latino/a authors. However, I feel maybe I should point it out sometimes to avoid confusion. Once a reviewer wrote something along the lines to me that how dare I caricature Latino characters – my response was ‘How am I caricaturing Latino characters? I’m writing about myself, my husband, my father, my uncles, my friends and our experiences.’ They detracted their response not knowing earlier that I am Hispanic.

It’s difficult for me to look at the world through any other prism. I was born in Puerto Rico, raised in inner city Chicago and by inner city I mean you name it and I’ve seen it: teen pregnancy, drive-by shootings, the deaths of so many young and bright individuals, the cost of poverty and the desperation of loss. So, not only do I write reflecting a bicultural identity, I try to reflect an urban identity. I’ve gone on to college, obtained multiple advanced degrees, work in corporate America but to this day I still live in that inner city neighborhood (by choice) and walk past panaderias (Mexican bakeries) and stop and chat with elderly Puerto Rican men who are out playing dominoes on a sunny Chicago summer day. They are my world and they are the community that raised me, a Latina horror writer who loves her people. There is something magical about speaking Spanish and having this slew of superstitions tied to my Hispanic culture and then having to navigate the English-speaking American reality. It’s both beautiful and sad sometimes. I’ve always felt as though I belong to both but somehow am not fully accepted by either. Perhaps that’s why so many of my characters are outsiders.

***You can pick up Cynthia’s books through AMAZON.

(Want to take part in a single question interview? Contact me for your question.)

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