Interview with Smok

Smok during the Spanish language Mexicanx Initiative reading (Photo by Patty Garcia)

Please introduce yourself and tell us where you grew up and where you live now. Where can we find you on social media?

My name is Deborah Gonzalez and my pen name is Smok (it means dragon in Polish). I was born and still live in a small town in Baja California Norte. My father’s family is from Colima and my mother is from Nayarit.
I’m @smokthedragon on Twitter.

What kind of creative work do you do?

I write speculative poetry, and sometimes I make videos of my poems.

Had you ever been to a WorldCon before?

No, but I can’t wait to go again.

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

I didn’t know what to expect, but I was sure I was going to learn a lot. My experience exceed any expectation. I learned, I found a new family, and made new friends, and it was really amazing.

"Worldcon is a magical place," John said at the the Mexicanx Initiative reception. And it really was magical. From start to finish, the convention was full of surprises and adventures. But the real magic started much earlier.

Two years ago I decided that I wanted to write professionally, because writing is something that I've always done but I never considered it as a career. So, I started writing more and sending my poems to contests here in México. One day I made video of one of my poems, just for fun. My sister recorded me and my boyfriend made the music. I posted it on YouTube and showed to my family and friends, and that was it. I kept writing, and participating in contests, and every fail was like a heartbreak for me, and I started wondering if I was good enough, but I’m stubborn como mi ama, and kept doing it anyway.

One night I was scrolling through Twitter before going to sleep and found John’s tweet because someone I follow had retweet it. I was hesitant to participate at first, but I decided to take the risk and send my tweet telling him why I wanted to go to Worldcon, and went to sleep. He answered me the next day, telling me that he saw my video (the video that I made just for fun), and, well, the rest is history. It’s amazing how the points connect without even noticing. Some may call it destiny, luck, or a blessing, but it doesn’t matter; it was happening to me and I was grateful.

From the moment I arrived in San Jose, everything went smoothly. I went to the convention and met John in his booth for the first time, where he gave me the warmest welcome ever. And then the opening ceremonies happened, and that’s when I realized, that the Mexicanx Initiative was something else. It was not just a group of Mexicanx people having the opportunity to go to a Sci-Fi/fantasy convention. It was the beginning of something bigger.

The first person I talked was Dianita, who was really sweet and interesting, and then I met Vania because we both said at the same time, “Glad I didn’t trip on the stage!” In that moment I knew we would be good friends. The Mexicanx reception really felt like a family party and I had too much fun meeting everyone. The second day were the Mexicanx Initiative readings. I went to the convention center early to practice in a corner, scaring the people that passed by. At the reading, I was amazed at the talent of each Mexicanx that participated, and fell in love with all the stories that they told. And when it was my turn, I made sure to make enough hand gestures so that no one noticed how my hands where shaking, but that’s when it hit me, for real, I was in the right place doing what I was born to do.

Smok and Vania Soto posing like quinceañeras (Sent by Smok; Copyright 2018 Richard Canfield)

In the four days of the convention, I felt so welcome and inspired by the SF/F community. I learned from the most talented people and met the kindest souls. I’m super grateful to every person that supported the initiative, and even more grateful for being part of the Mexicanx Initiative family. That’s why I think Worldcon is a magical place, because of the people that make that magic happen. Going to Worldcon 76 was one of the best experiences I've had in my life.

Tell us about one highlight moment of your WorldCon experience.

My highlight moment was definitely the reading. It was my first time reading my work in public and I really enjoyed it.

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

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!

Songs: I can’t chose one, so I’m going to recommend two songs. "Apocalíptico" and "Desencuentro" by Residente (the former vocalist of Calle 13).

Written work: “Mexican Bestiary” by David Bowles.

Visual art: The work of Eden Reeve. Go follow her on Twitter, where she is @edenreeve. She is amazing.

Movie: The documentary of Residente. Every creative person needs to watch that documentary. Is about how he produces his self-titled album in ten countries based on his own DNA. It’s really cool.

What was the funniest thing that happened during your trip?

When I danced with a charming but very old man at the Fairmont bar.

Where should new people start familiarizing themselves with your work?

These are the links for three video poems I have on YouTube:

Extraterrestre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKdrJpZx7GY

Solaris: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boI6XsUcdZY

La Llegada: [https://youtu.be/TMP-5n2nO2Y(https://youtu.be/TMP-5n2nO2Y)

Pablo Defendini