But the hustle and bustle is not only at the service of the writing itself. Iglesias elevates other writers by reviewing for numerous outlets such as the Los Angeles Book Review, LitReactor, PACKAGE, and NPR, and tweeting about new books she loves. He is truly an inspiration. In fact, Iglesias has twice inspired me to write short stories. The first time was in 2019, when he sent out a call to submit “border noir” stories. I launched “The Other Coyotes”, a story set in a dystopian future where Donald Trump imposed martial law, built his border wall and implemented an extreme family separation program that includes microchipping the children of deported immigrants. Iglesias quickly accepted my proposal and then I had to write the story, which I did. The end result appears in the powerful anthology. Both Sides: Stories from the Border (Agora Books, 2020), which includes stories by writers such as David Bowles, Cynthia Pelayo, and Alex Segura, to name a few.
The second time Iglesias inspired me to write was when he tweeted last year that he had a lump on his neck surgically removed. I responded on Twitter that he was going to write a story based on his experience, which amused Iglesias. The result was a magical-realistic horror bromance titled “Nacho” that I dedicated to him, something I rarely do. the ruckus published my strange little story, something that also amused Iglesias.
But what about your writing? Iglesias’s supernatural crime fiction is as impressive as it is innovative; is nothing short of a thrilling journey that explores the darkest corners of human fallibility and our country’s chilling bigotry of “the Other.” he is the author of the novels zero saints (2015) and coyote songs (2018) – both from Broken River Books – and Gutmouth (2012), by Eraser Head Press. Iglesias, who teaches creative writing in the University of Southern New Hampshire’s online MFA program, is a member of the Horror Writers Association, the Mystery Writers of America and the National Book Critics Circle. And of course you can find him on Twitter at @gabino_iglesias.
The last novel by Iglesias, the devil take you home (released in August by Mulholland Books), follows the fate of Mario, a man drowning in debt due to the illness of his young daughter. With his marriage in tatters, he reluctantly takes a job as a hit man, eventually agreeing to one last job hijacking a cartel’s cash shipment before he reaches Mexico. Mario teams up with his meth-addicted friend, Brian, and a cartel member named Juanca. In the mix are competing supernatural elements. easily with the horrors of the real world. The novel has already won effusive praise from Opinions about Kirkus, weekly editors, library journal, CrimeReadsY vanity fair.
And let me add my voice to this chorus: the devil take you home indisputably establishes Gabino Iglesias as one of our most innovative, exciting, and gifted novelists, who, once again, blends genres with exquisitely dark, compelling, and provocative results. This novel takes no prisoners.
Iglesias kindly took time out of his “hustle” to talk to LARB about his latest novel.
DANIEL A. OLIVES: The hero (or anti-hero, if you will) of the devil take you home he is a man who has suffered an unspeakable personal loss, not to mention a self-inflicted breakdown in his marriage. He feels deep remorse and guilt, but hopes that a great score will give him back some of what he has lost. Could you talk about how you created Mario and what you wanted to explore through his journey?
CABINO CHURCHES: One of the things I like most about horror and crime fiction is that both genres share a heart: deep down there are good people who find themselves in bad situations. Mario is all of us, far from perfect, but he’s not bad. He is desperate and the system does not offer him many options. Most people know what he feels like. I wrote about 45,000 words of the devil take you home while writing for various places, he taught high school full-time and taught an MFA course at SNHU at night. Then I lost the high school teaching gig and my health insurance along with it, and this happened in June 2020, just as the pandemic was raging. I read about people getting sick and then receiving astronomical medical bills. I was angry and worried, and I injected all of that into Mario. Hopefully that will make it resonate with people, especially those who understand that good people sometimes do horrible things for the right reasons.
Although his novel could be classified as border noir, there are horrific supernatural elements and entities that fulfill the promise of the book’s title. From a craft standpoint, what were the benefits and pitfalls of mixing two different genres to create a perfectly balanced narrative?
Thanks for the kind words! Balance is a good thing, so I’m glad it worked out. Mixing elements of crime, horror, noir and magical realism is something I’ve been doing since I switched to English in 2008 and started to approach writing as something that could really become my career. I think crime and horror are perfect dance partners. I love both so mixing them makes sense to me. Both can make you feel many things, and if you mix them, the plethora of feelings can become something powerful and unforgettable. The only difficulties come after finishing the books. Sometimes crime readers don’t like my work because there are too many monsters, ghosts, supernatural events, and religious themes. Sometimes horror readers don’t like my work because there are too many real problems, real people and guns. It’s okay. A big part of growing as a writer is accepting the fact that your work isn’t for everyone.
A theme that runs through his novel is bigotry, specifically the way the United States government and certain members of our society question the very right of Latinos to be in this country, even when they are citizens and have been here for generations. . In fact, one particular fight scene at a restaurant is ignited with intolerant comments. Could you share some thoughts on how you explored the issue of bigotry through the views and actions of various characters, specifically Mario, his white friend Brian, and cartel member Juanca?
America is the land of freedom and opportunity…but that freedom and opportunity is different, or completely non-existent, whether you are a woman, a person of color, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, neurodivergent, or disabled. Intolerance, in this country, is alive and well. In fact, it’s doing better than it did a couple of years ago. I am a dark man with an accent and a name full of vowels. I was born and raised in a colony and I will always be a second class citizen, and I can’t complain because at least I am a citizen. Mario is the same, and even he recognizes the privilege of having that citizenship. Brian is a straight white male, so he’s more or less oblivious to all of that, but he’s also poor and hooked on meth, so he doesn’t get all the benefits. Juanca is different: she is the border boy who has lived between cultures, just like Mario but without some of the benefits. All three offer the reader a view of the same problems from different perspectives.
Daniel A. Olivas is a playwright, book reviewer, editor, and author of 10 books, including How to Date a Flying Mexican: New and Collected Stories (University of Nevada Press, 2022). has written for The New York Timesthe Los Angeles Timesthe Los Angeles Book Magazine, Alta Journal, Y The blog. Follow him on Twitter @olivasdan.