Interview with Raquel Castro

Smok waiting for the Hugo Ceremony to begin (Photo by Smok)

Smok waiting for the Hugo Ceremony to begin (Photo by Smok)

Where did you grow up and where do you live now? Where can we find you on social media?

I was born in Mexico City, where I still live to this day. I spent my first years in the historic center of the city, in a chaotic and noisy neighborhood that little by little became hostile and dangerous, so that we ended up moving to the east side of the city, to an area so calm that the nighttime silence kept me from sleeping. Now I live in the western part of the city with my husband (Alberto) and two cats. I have learned to appreciate the silence, too.

I'm on Facebook at http://facebook.com/escritora.raquelcastro/, on Twitter I'm @raxxie_, on Instagram I'm @raxxie, and I have a website at www.raxxie.com

What kind of creative work do you do?

My creative work is writing. I like to write novels with strong female teen characters, complexities, and urban environments related to subcultures that catch my attentions (primarily goths). I also write short stories, where I explore the intersections of horror, science fiction, and humor.

Dark Doll by Raquel Castro for sale at Worldcon 76 (Photo by Alberto Chimal)

Dark Doll by Raquel Castro for sale at Worldcon 76 (Photo by Alberto Chimal)

Had you ever been to a Worldcon before?

This was my first time.

What did you expect being part of the Initiative would be like? How did your experience compare with that expectation?

I'm very pessimistic and I try not to have expectations of anything. I have a degree of social anxiety (¡ay!) so I always feel like I never fit in anywhere, that I don't belong; so i try to avoid thinking about group activities I am going to participate in. So I had a very pleasant surprise. From the first moment I felt relaxed, at ease, part of a group. The conversations, the interests (literary, cultural, political, and general) of the people around me were similar to mine. We had differences, yes, but in that healthy way that leads to good dialogue, to learning. I could spend time with people I really like, who actually live near me, but because of the frenzy of everyday life, I don't see very often. I met people I would like to get to know more, spend more time with, listen to more. And I took away endless recommendations of books, magazines, and movies. What more could I ask for?

Tell us about one highlight moment of your WorldCon experience.

At the Losers Party I had the chance to talk with two servers and a DJ, all three Mexicanx. They didn't know much about science fiction, or any of the work by the people who were there, so they were curious about the party and what it was about. After we talked a little bit they were very excited that one of our own, John, was a key figure at Worldcon. I was just talking about this with the DJ when John passed by. I intercepted him (I will never shine in society, I know) and I introduced him to the DJ. John was warm and friendly with him, like he was with all of us all the time, and the DJ had an expression of excitement, pride, and happiness that I carry in my heart still. That he played music by Selena later was just the icing on my cake.

Raquel Castro, John Picacio, Gabriela Damián Miravete, Libia Brenda, and José Luis Zárate at the Hugo Losers Party (Photo by Alberto Chimal)

Recommend any or all of the following: a song, a written work, a piece of visual art, and a movie. Tell us why you love them!

Song: Mariachi Rock-O's cover of "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. It's a song that always makes me cry (because it's pretty, and because it's sad, and because it fills my head with images of science fiction). But Mariachi Rock-O's version, feels like it presents an alternate universe. You can listen to it here: https://youtu.be/2D0KMAUwbog

Written work: "La Partida" by Alberto Chimal. I knew Alberto's stories long before I imagined that I might know him personally (much less before I imagined we might end up together!) and this story embodies everything I love about his work, the combination of horror, goodness, beautiful language, eloquent images, everything. You can read it (in Spanish only) here: https://brevesnotanbreves.blogspot.com/2008/09/la-partida-alberto-chimal.html

Visual art: I hope this doesn't make me sound too bloodthirsty, but... I love Artemisia Gentileschi! Her paintings of Judith Slaying Holofernes and Judith with her Maidservant are the best. I love how she portrays women: powerful, determined, supportive.

Movie: Amazon Women On the Moon. It's really fun.

Raquel Castro at the Mexicanx Initiative Spanish language group reading (Photo by Julia Rios)

What was the funniest thing that happened during your trip?

I am always terrified of public group readings. I always think we're going to run out of time just when it should be my turn to read, or that I won't show up on time, or that someone is going to stop everything at the point when I am supposed to read and start screaming nonsense, or pull out a pistol, or... (I already told you I have some social anxiety, right?). Okay, so at Worldcon, when I was supposed to participate in the group reading... David Bowles completely forgot about me! He thought everyone had gone and he had time to read his own work (he was the reading host). It took all my courage to raise my hand and ask if I wasn't supposed to read and then, while I was reading, he had to tell me the time for the group reading was up. It was the conjunction of all my fears; the only thing missing was for me to discover I was actually naked, and for someone to start yelling. Just imagine, it made me laugh a lot. I only endured it because... well, because I was already at the podium, reading the last couple of lines I had a chance to read. It was a kind exposure therapy.

Where should new people start familiarizing themselves with your work?

In English, I think it would be on this site, which has two stories of mine: http://www.palabraserrantes.com/tag/raquel-castro/

In Spanish, I would suggest my blog. It's been a while since I updated it (¡ay!) but the files start in 2002, so there should be some good stuff there. :)

Pablo Defendini