August 1, 2019

SUMMER READING - Monstrosity by Laura Diaz de Arce

What does it mean to be a monster?
How do we perceive monsters?
How do we define the monster?
EC interviews author, Laura Diaz de Arce
on her book, Monstrosity...
I have been fortunate enough to work with author, Laura Diaz de Arce, on several occasions when I published her work in EC. There is always an originality to her writing that makes her stories popular with our readers. She blends folklore and fairy tale tropes into unique tales with unexpected settings and characters that readers remember.

So, it was a great treat for me to read Laura's book, Monstrosity. This collection of speculative tales- that wander in folklore, science fiction, and horror- explore our human need to seek out monsters. Here, you'll find stories that take you on a journey to find these monsters while always retaining a connection to real human emotions. Check out EC's interview with Laura below.


Hi, Laura. It's great to talk to you today. Tell us a little about yourself as a writer.
Thanks for having me! As for who I am, I'm a South-Florida born and raised writer that specializes in speculative genre fusion and jumping. I like working with complex characters and intriguing themes. 

How would you describe the collection of tales from your book, Monstrosity?
Monstrosity is a collection of stories that all theorize what it means to be a monster. How do we perceive monsters? How do we define the monster? But most of all, what can make us monstrous? 

Did you have any specific influences on the stories in this collection?
Well, "Without Him (and Him, and Him) There is No Me" was originally published in the Lana Del Rey and Sylvia Plath based anthology, Tragedy Queens by CLASH Books. For that, I took certain aspects of Lana Del Rey's persona, her vulnerability, her desire to change for a man in her earlier discography, and made those into something largely predatory. For "Swamp King" that was first published in EC's Donkeyskin issue, I used a lot of that story as well as others of that tale type. "Roja" is based on Little Red Riding Hood and legends of the Trauco from Chilean mythology. 

Was it difficult for you to choose the final stories used out of all the stories you've written?
I have a tendency to keep a roster of completed to semi-completed short stories, so when I realized I had an on-going theme that may make a tight collection I started bundling them theme-wise. Hence the three sections, Hominum (Human), Mutatio (Transformation), and Monstrum (Monster). There was quite a bit of internal arguing on a couple of them, and ultimately Monstrum needed another story, which is how "Hardcover, Softcover" came about. I think the comforting thing is that if pieces I love do not find a home in this collection, they may find them elsewhere. 

Which story took you the longest to write? and the shortest?
Part of me wants to say "Plum Moon" because it is the longest, but that one I had a firmer mental outline so it was easier to write. The longest in terms of time though was "West Hamberline Bordello" because I kept starting and stopping. I had some lines in my head that I just kept jotting down and the story changed multiple times. It was originally going to be Kitty's story, but then I got to thinking about sentience and rights, especially robot rights, and that fascinated me more. But getting the tone and the imagery right was the most difficult part. 

What would you like the reader to take away from reading this book?
Like I say in the intro, I hope the reader can explore different emotions in each story. I hope that it sparks some strong emotion, whether that is self-contemplation, peace, or anger. For me, good work makes me think, makes me pull into myself and have to explore it after I've read it. I hope that is the case here. 

And since EC has a lot of writers in our audience,
I wanted to ask you a few questions geared to your craft:
Do you have a specific routine when you write and do you have a designated writing space?
It's difficult for me to find time to write. Generally, on some nights my husband will cook dinner and I'll have the chance to sit in front of the computer and get work done. It's really whenever I have the time to do it though. If I have a deadline I am working towards, I'll block out time. My husband is very supportive, so he'll often take the lion's share of housework to help me get writing done. 

While we have an office and I have a large messy desk, I find myself in bed with the laptop can be the most productive. Or on the couch. Or I will write on my phone at doctor's appointments. 

Do you work on more than one story at a time?
Typically I jump around. If it's a short story that I can knock-out in one-sitting I will do that, but that's rare. If I get frustrated or inspired, I strike while the iron is hot and move to the story that isn't giving me trouble at the time. 

Do you work from a detailed outline or plot or do you prefer to see where the story takes you?
In the world of plotters or pantsers, I am a pantser extreme. Depending on how I first get an idea, I may have a sense of where I want it to go or what I want it to so, and that will give me some plot points. But in general, I just start writing. This results in a lot of half-finished stories, but you never know when you might revisit a theme, a line, a character, or a story. I like to think of it as cultivating a junkyard to pick out from. It's not bad to have. 

What ways do you promote yourself and what social media do you think is most effective to do this?
Twitter and Instagram mostly, @QuetaAuthor on both. Although Twitter's algorithm has been lacking as of late, and I still haven't figured out how to really do Instagram, it is nice to connect to other people. In short- I have no idea what I'm doing.

And to pass along some good reading - please recommend 3 books you've read to our readers that you have recently enjoyed.
Katherine Arden's The Bear and the Nightingale, Emma Hamm's Heart of the Fae and Jacqueline Carey's Starless is probably up an EC reader's alley.

Thanks for sharing with us today, Laura!
Read one of Laura's stories in EC,
A Panther Among Men,
by clicking on the cover below.
PICK UP YOUR COPY OF MONSTROSITY HERE.
and
CHECK OUT LAURA'S PATREON PAGE HERE

Interview by: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff

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