Monday, May 6, 2013

Nuestras Voces, Our Voices: Emerging Latina writers talk about their work - Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Editor's note: this is the fifth in monthly series of guest blog posts in which emerging Latina writers talk about their work, their process and what inspires them.

 Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia Moreno-Garcia writes speculative fiction (from magic realism to horror). Her short stories have appeared in places such as Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. Her first collection, This Strange Way of Dying, is out this summer. She is raising funds to complete a novel, Young Blood, about vampires in Mexico City. Go to to find out more or visit or her web site

Predisposed to lies and subterfuge

There are two sources of inspiration for my writing: my personal life and my great-grandmother. I know it sounds dull to admit that what I write about is what I see around me, but it’s true. Fragments of conversations, moments from my childhood, people I’ve met, they all filter into my stories.

My great-grandmother is the other big engine behind a lot of what I do. Born into poverty, she never learned to read beyond the second-grade level. She couldn’t write without copious mispellings. She also told stories. Stories of her childhood, of what it was like growing up in the Mexican countryside. The fantastic often mingled with reality. There were witches in the shape of fireballs cackling from the trees. There were nahuales and serpents with feathers.

Although she provided solid facts (I’m still surprised discovering that some of the things she said were very accurate, such as descriptions of life during the Mexican Revolution), she filled the cracks with fantasy.

I believed everything she said until I was a teenager, at which point the stories of ghosts and spirits just didn’t make sense.

To this day, I’m not sure who my great-grandmother was. Her story of her marriage to my great-grandfather was a tale of great love, but she failed to mention the man who had impregnated her when she was a maid working in a wealthy house. There were other omissions, fabrications, half-truths and question marks. My grandmother always complained her mother was a cold and distant woman, but great-grandmother was always warm to me, brushing my hair and telling me stories.

On the other side of the family, I also have liars and tall-tellers. My grandfather was, for lack of better words, a swindler and a cad. Also a radio announcer with a booming voice. He left his family one fine day, just vanishing into thin air with his mistress.

My father is also a liar. Also charming in his own way. Also an asshole.

I am genetically predisposed to lies and subterfuge. Rather than becoming a con artist, I prefer to tell stories.

I think every good story has a kernel of truth to it. That is what makes it beat and draws people to it. We connect with the truth and recognize it. You take that truth and swaddle it in a bunch of lies. That’s a story. A storytellers is nothing but a liar who allows you to see a fraction of her naked heart.

That’s pretty much what I am.


  1. "A storyteller is nothing but a liar who allows you to see a fraction of her naked heart." I LOVE this.

    Great to meet you, Silvia! How wonderful to have such powerful storytellers in one family, passing it down from generation to generation.

  2. I am reminded of something Robert Crossley said about Octavia Butler's Kindred: "Like all good works of fiction, it lies like the truth." I look forward to reading your stories!


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