We’d like to introduce you to Coral Alejandra Moore, our guest editor for Colorful Roots, the 4th ever issue of Solarpunk Magazine.
To start with the basics, Coral, who is of Portuguese and Puerto Rican descent, holds an MFA in writing from Albert Magnus College. She writes speculative fiction and poetry and has been published in such magazines as Lightspeed and Diabolical Plots. She’s also one of the founding editors of Constelación Magazine, which has published speculative fiction in Spanish and English.
SPM: Firstly, thank you for guest editing this issue of our magazine, which will be available starting Tuesday July 12th in our store. And thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. We’d like to start by asking you why you like writing (and, presumably, reading) speculative fiction and poetry?
CAM: More than anything else, I love creating worlds. I love creating the people who inhabit those worlds and finding out what happens to them when strange and terrifying things happen in those worlds. That’s always what I’ve loved about writing. When I’m reading speculative fiction, I feel like I’m learning about that world that someone else has loved enough to create. I think it’s a lot like daydreaming for me, but when I’m reading, rather than just thinking, I’m taking a trip in the world someone else has created.
SPM: The other day the obvious hit me: I’ve hardly ever read any Latinx/Hispanic science fiction or speculative fiction (to the point where, ashamed of myself, I hopped on the internet posthaste and ordered a Latinx speculative fiction anthology). Given your founding of Constelación Magazine in part to address this issue, you must have given considerable thought to why the anglophone science fiction and speculative fiction world doesn’t contain more Latinx/Hispanic-centered stories or more Latinx/Hispanic characters. Especially when Latinx/Hispanic is such a vast umbrella, covering several continents, tons of cultures, multiple ethnicities, and at least 600 million people.
CAM: At the most basic level, I think it’s a representation problem. And here I don’t mean representation in the stories, but in the gatekeepers of speculative fiction in both short and long form. There just aren’t a lot of Latinx editors in this space yet. This has a sort of two-sided chilling effect on Latinx writers being published I think. First, when writers look around and don’t see themselves reflected in the people who are reading and judging their work, I think they can feel discouraged about even submitting it. Then secondly there can be a lack of understanding of the stories, and I’m not talking about language here. One of the biggest things I learned while reading submissions for Constelación was that there’s a profound difference in what is considered a story in different parts of the world. A lot of what I learned in my studies of narrative had a very American sensibility because that’s where I grew up and went to school and finding out that the things that are considered hard and fast rules of story aren’t as universal as we’re sometimes led to believe.
SPM: This thought that there are so many other story structures and ways to tell stories than we’ve been trained to accept as valid is one we’re starting to hear more often from editors of speculative fiction. Could you elaborate on this? What are some of the other forms that stories can take than the theme and variations on the three-act structure of longer stories or the typical narrative arc of shorter ones? Or are the possibilities too vast or nebulous to be confined like that?
CAM: The latter, definitely. There’s just so much out there in the rest of the world and I think we do a disservice to our readers by pretending a story can only look like one thing. The three-act structure and the Hero’s Journey are so much of what we’re trained to look at as a story, but it’s really just looking at story through one very small lens. There’s also the belief that conflict has to be external and explicit when other story traditions deal more with internal or subtle conflict.
But I think you’re right, we’re starting to see more about the other structures and the other types of stories now. I’m very excited for what we’ll see now that more editors are opening their doors to translations and non-English stories. I think the reliance on English as the originating language is part of how we got to this very homogenous place. For folks looking to learn more about different story structures, Henry Lien teaches a wonderful class through Writing the Other called “Non-Linear, Non-Western Storytelling Structures” that I took recently that I found super informative on the topic.
SPM: Do you find that reading these stories has broadened the scope of your own writing?
CAM: I think so, especially with regards to the Hero’s Journey not being the only way to resolve a character arc. I’ve been trying to explore different types of main characters and different types of journeys in my writing lately. I’m not sure I’m pulling it off quite yet, but we’ll see what happens down the road. One of the things I love most about being a writer and an editor is that both rely on always learning new and interesting things about ourselves and about stories.
SPM: Do you have any favorite Hispanic/Latinx works of speculative fiction to recommend (in any language)?
CAM: In English, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a favorite of mine. She also has lots of short fiction out in the world that is all excellent if you want a bite-sized portion. In Spanish, Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría is someone that I learned about while working on Constelación who is a phenomenal writer. If you don’t mind a bit of a plug her story “Apolo Licio, Apolo Veráva” in the second issue of Constelación is a lovely example of what we were talking about stories that don’t fit the traditional mold.
SPM: Since we’re Solarpunk Magazine, we have to ask you what your best vision of a beautiful possible future is. What does your utopia look like?
CAM: Oh, that’s a great question and a tough one. My ideal world is one where creative pursuits are valued as much as technological innovation. It’s also a world where our differences are harnessed to bring us together rather than separate us. And finally, it’s a world where equality isn’t just a thing that is strived for, but has already been attained.
SPM: Lastly, are you working on any projects you’d like to tell (or, at least our readers), about?
CAM: Well my big amazing news that you get to hear first is that I’ve signed on to be an editor with Android Press so if any writers out there have novels that don’t follow traditional Western narrative structure, hit me up over there!
SPM: Fantastic! Thank you for taking the time to talk to us and give us such thoughtful answers.