With Ramiro Perez de Pereda
Tell me about yourself. My name is Ramiro Perez de Pereda. I’m 77 years old, Cuban-born, and a resident of Miami, Florida. My writing career only took off in 2014. Since then, I have authored three books, co-authored a book of poetry, and curated four anthologies. I am the Head Acquisitions Editor for Darkwater Syndicate—I head the department, I do not collect heads. I thought I should make that clear. I sign my work with an “R” in much the same way Zorro signs his with a “Z.” In what genre(s) do you write? I write fantasy. I’ve always loved the genre ever since I was young. Back when I was a young man, we had some greats: Ursula LeGuin, Harlan Ellison, Anne McCaffrey, and of course, my favorite—Robert E. Howard, author of the Conan the Barbarian stories. What is your goal as a writer? I want to tell a rousing story. I love action—particularly hack and slash fiction, which is what I like to write—though I do also like horror, especially when there’s (ahem) extra ketchup on everything, if you catch my drift. Do you outline, or write by the seat of your pants? I’m definitely a pantser, and I learned it the hard way. When I first started writing, I didn’t know how to go about it, so I wrote everything there was to know about my fantasy world and the people who lived there. I filled whole marble notebooks with info. But when it came down to writing the actual novel, all this encyclopedic matter generated one typed page of novel. I threw all that out and started from scratch, letting the story tell itself, and that produced my first novel: The Many Deaths of Cyan Wraithwate in 1967 (published 2014, by Darkwater Syndicate). What else have you written? I am the author of Chasing Blood, a mob techno-thriller, and I curate the Shadows And Teeth horror series. My short story, Bernadette, was selected for the Year’s Best Hardcore Horror last year. Which is your favorite character? It would definitely have to be Cyan from the novel I mentioned above. He’s a twenty-something medieval army captain. He’s no white knight by any stretch. Born into low nobility with all the arrogance and ambition befitting of that station, Cyan’s out to make a name for himself, and he doesn’t care who he has to step all over on his ascent to greatness. He’s also immortal (in that if he dies, he gets resurrected immediately) but it’s become a curse—with each passing day, more of him turns into lifeless iron, until he’s nothing more than a statue. Instead of a noble sword, I gave him tools normally reserved for villainous types—a massive battle-ax and callous disregard for anyone but himself. In effect, I’d invented an ax-murderer that would give Lizzie Borden nightmares—and he’s the protagonist! What’s the worst job you ever had? When I came to this country in 1958, I got a job in a produce warehouse. I would spend all day loading and unloading semi-trucks packed with all sorts of fruits and vegetables. It’s dirty, stressful, backbreaking work, and you’ve got the floor managers cracking the whip to make you work ever faster. What writing resource gives the best value for the money? You’re going to laugh, but I’d say the best bang for your buck is a good typewriter. I don’t mean a laptop or one of those electric typewriters that were big in the 70s and 80s that store your keystrokes then print the letters onto a page. I mean an actual typewriter. There is something about the physicality of the action of writing, the force-feedback of striking a key to induce the medium to strike the paper with a selected letter—it’s zen-like, really, and it gets me in a writing flurry. Some days, I can shut myself in my study and bang away at the keys in a frenzy, and generate some 20,000 words in a span of ten hours. You just don’t get that level of connection with a laptop; there link between the writer and the product is too attenuated. Do you approve of e-books? I don’t think it’s my place to approve or disapprove of them. To each his own. Personally, I don’t mind them. I’m a traditionalist, and I like the feel of paper in my hands. Though I will admit, e-readers have made it easier than ever to carry a library of books with us anywhere we go, and there is some good to be said of that. What are common traps new writers should avoid? Always ask yourself: “Why should the audience care to read what I’m writing?” Is your aim to entertain the audience? To teach? To move them emotionally? You need to be clear about the goal of your writing before you start hitting the keyboard. Good writing simultaneously asks these questions and provides their answers. You see, writing isn’t about the writer—it’s about the reader. The minute you insert something you think will make you, the writer, seem clever, you’ve lost your focus. No one cares what you think, and least of all what you think about yourself. That’s being pompous. If you want to get good at this craft, your focus must be on the reader’s experience. Do you have writing rituals? Yes, and it boils down to this: take one colada (a shot of Cuban espresso) in the morning, sit down and write. Repeat coladas as necessary. The waters of the fountain of youth may be crystal clear, but the fountain of inspiration flows with caffeine. What new books can we expect? I just finished my memoirs, titled I Was A Teenage Cuban Arsonist. I liken it to a “highlight reel” of his life. It covers my childhood in pre-revolutionary Cuba and my growing up as an exile in Miami. It’s full of anecdotes: some hilarious, some moving. You’ll get to hear how my two older brothers and I get into trouble with bloodthirsty nuns, discover girls, and inadvertently burn down the family farm. Later, upon my arrival in Miami, I was recruited into a counterrevolutionary movement formed to oppose Castro, going from penniless immigrant to soldier of fortune. It was a wild time! The book will be available on Amazon and elsewhere on January 31, 2019, published by Darkwater Syndicate. .