TIH 482: Cynthia Pelayo on The Shoemaker’s Magician, Crime Scene, and Prose Poetry

TIH 482 Cynthia Pelayo on The Shoemaker’s Magician, Crime Scene, and Prose Poetry

In this podcast, Cynthia Pelayo talks about The Shoemaker’s Magician, Crime Scene, prose poetry, and much more.

About Cynthia Pelayo

Cynthia “Cina” Pelayo is a three-time Bram Stoker Awards nominated poet and author. She is the author of books such as Loteria, Santa Muerte, The Missing, Poems of My Night, Crime Scene, and Children of Chicago.

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Michael David Wilson 0:07

Welcome to This Is Horror Podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson and every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella. We chat with the world's best writers about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Today we are welcoming back the wonderful Cynthia Palacio, to This Is Horror Podcast. And what a time to welcome her back, as she has recently released or shortly be releasing three books, the hotly anticipated second book in her Chicago series to shoemakers magician, the rerelease of her short story collection Lotteria and the wonderful novel length prose poem, crime scene. She is one of the best writers in the crime and horror genres, and we always have a fun time hanging out with her. Now apropos for a horror podcast, Cina actually recorded this while it's in a cabin in the woods. Although this does mean that at times the audio quality isn't quite as sharp. But I think you'll agree in terms of seen as weight and commentary on literature. It is a sharp as a Japanese santoku knife. So before we jump into the conversation, it is time for a quick advert break.

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Michael David Wilson 3:13

Okay, well with that said here it is. It is sent via Palacio on This Is Horror. Cina, welcome back to This Is Horror is so good to have you here.

Cynthia Pelayo 3:29

Hello. It's great to be back. I can. Like 2021. That's been a couple years.

Michael David Wilson 3:36

Yeah. So the last episode we did we you aired in September 2021. So by my maths I reckon that will mean we spoke in the summer. So it's been about a year and a half.

Cynthia Pelayo 3:52

Wow. Time Time flies, and flies. I am in a I'm in a tiny cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere. And my son is in the background crunching on cheesy proofs. So if you hear that, that's my son because I'm hiding in a cabin might finish edits for my novel that's coming out in 2024.

Michael David Wilson 4:19

Yeah, well, it's certainly apropos for a horror writer to be in a cabin in the woods. So we appreciate the dedication really to come in on the podcast. And it's like, right, well, I'll be in a cabin in the woods.

Cynthia Pelayo 4:35

Tiny, tiny little, modern ones. And so the furthest I can get away from my son is like the top bunk. So I like a coffin that I'm in. It's just like, like, I only have space for like to lay down some kind of laying down and just staring up at this like, you know, piling ceiling here. It sounds like I'm laying down everyone. I'm laying down on the platform, but Uh,

Michael David Wilson 5:01

yeah, yeah. So I mean, is this a cabin that you've gone to before for writing? Or is this your first time there?

Cynthia Pelayo 5:09

I've been here once before, and I liked it so much. And it's like, close to the city. So it's, it's manageable. Like I just, I don't want to drive to fall away from the city. But um, you hear my you'll hear my son laughing throughout the episode. So you're welcome. Yeah, so it's close to the city, which is nice. I just, I, as people know, right. Fairy tales. And so it just, it just kind of helps to be here in this type of environment to get in that headspace.

Michael David Wilson 5:42

Yeah, yeah. Well, I'm wondering in the last 18 months, what have been the biggest changes for you both personally and professionally?

Cynthia Pelayo 5:55

Oh, gosh. Personally, oh, my gosh, I'll come back to personal I can do professionally. It's been. It's been a crazy week, which is a good crazy children of Chicago came out. And it generated a lot of fun both. And I think it's because of the storyline. And you'll hear me around the little cabin. But it generated a lot more controversy than I thought it was going to. And so that took off and became a life of its own, which was a little scary. I think, I think people don't prepare you to be to go viral, or to become like, a topic of conversation. It's actually really scary. So like, you know, I had to take some social media breaks or whatnot. But that happened changing in Chicago. I just the last time that was nominated children Chicago was nominated for Best Novel. Last year for the Bram Stoker's awards. I'm going to be a guest of honor at this year. stokercon I have to, I've had a few releases. So crime scene came out Lotteria, which is my short story collection. Like 2010 was like my thesis I'm originally from my Masters of Fine Arts and writing at the school. The Art Institute has been rereleased next month from polis books. The shoemakers magician, which is the second book in the Chicago saga, is released in March. And then I have I signed with Thomas and Mercer, Amazon publishing. And so my first release with them comes out 2024, and then the next one in 2025. So it's been nonstop from a writing perspective. And I'm trying to, every time I think I caught my breath, it's like, Haha, something else amazing jumps in. And I have to accommodate for that in my life. In terms of my personal life, I think things are so just trying to keep everything together. I have two children that are both on the autism spectrum. And my husband, and you know, we live in the city in Chicago, my dad who is like, instrumental in helping me to want to become a writer. Originally, I was a journalist because of him. Because cancer is now terminal. So it's been a little. He's been sick for a long time. And it's something that we asked to me was coming. But it's just we're just trying to trying to process life cycles. And what does that mean? And I think even just that, that year and a half will come to you all I've just heard, I think I've matured a lot more as a writer and just as a person.

Michael David Wilson 8:54

Yeah, there's so much to kind of talk about and jump into from there. But I mean, in terms of your father's terminal cancer, I mean, having that diagnosis, what kinds of things have you done as a family? I mean, what what can one do is a situation that of course, most of us are completely unprepared for.

Cynthia Pelayo 9:26

I think my I, I really want to be able to take him back to Puerto Rico for one more visit. I was born there. My dad was born there. I just don't know we're waiting to see if that's even a possibility. And I think it would be heartbreaking if I can't do that for him. And even if we do do it for him, I can't even imagine his headspace and visiting and knowing this is the last time I'm going to be coming home. So there's just been a lot of processing What do we want? His last few times to look like, and for me, I want to spend time with him doing the things that helped me become a writer, like I think, you know, Sunday mornings, my dad and I would, you know, make coffee and get the newspaper and read the newspaper and talk about the articles we, you know, we read, and it was always very important for him that I was aware of the the world around me, which is why I went into journalism originally. But now he knows I'm a fiction writer. He wasn't, he wasn't supportive at first, he thought it was, he said, is silly. And does sort of journalism is much more of a serious profession in his eyes. But when I start, I was featured in like the Chicago Tribune, and it was more so like our local Chicago papers where he started seeing like pictures of me and like coverage of my books that he finally clicked for him. And he was like, he kind of looked at me recently, like, I'm proud of you that you're doing this. And so I'm happy that he did that. I finally got his validation, which I know, we shouldn't work in, like, for validation. But my father is probably one of my favorite people on this planet. So moving him is going to be pretty difficult. And so I'm just trying to prepare, what does that look like, for me and my children who love grandpa, because he's just ridiculous. He's like, a personality, he walks into a room and you know.

Michael David Wilson 11:39

And I think what you're doing with your writing, I mean, particularly, crime scene is journalism. In a sense, I know that it's fiction, but you're also, it's almost more real than journalism. Because these days, there is so much grief, there is so much sadness and trauma that we consume on a daily basis that it does this bizarre situation where we can be reading about murders and tragedy and grief, but we're doing it while leaving at breakfast, and just kind of getting on with things. But in crime scene. And indeed, with the vast majority of your fiction, you're not allowing us to do that there are these things that we'd rather not look at. And you are forcing us to really look at it and to experience it. So in a way, as bizarre as it might seem, writing a prose poem, in the form of crime scene is more real than writing an article on a crime in a journalistic piece.

Cynthia Pelayo 12:56

I think in many ways, it is because a journalistic piece is just going to give you like, here are the facts. This happened that this day, to this person at this time. And this is all we know, and it's very sanitized. And so there is no emotional component when you read that. But then when you write a prose, you can definitely take the liberty to inject an emotion into this, and provide the reader with some of the elements of terror that that individual was encountering at those final moments, and so I know some people may think that that's grim and gruesome. But I think after and I was one of those I was, I was definitely true crime obsessed for quite a long time. And I think my obsession with true crime was more just like the fascination that there are people out there that do these things to other people. And I think that we're, we are just not meant to understand that type of brain. And I was driving myself just like with trying to understand how can someone pick somebody up off the street and inflict this trauma onto them for a prolonged period of time, and dispose of them and just go about their regular day, that's just completely I can't even process that. And so I wanted to talk a little bit about that and crime scene and how these crimes just continue to happen over and over. And we're dismissive about it as a society. And we're just kind of move on to the next news story. That's not necessarily of importance, but yet, Holly's unsolved cases, missing persons, unsolved homicides. I want that was my commentary was crime scene. It's like it doesn't end. It's continuing, it happens anywhere and everywhere, especially in the United States, which is terrifying to any kind of person, children. The Women's have grown up men to transgender people are facing this epidemic of hurt and harm. And we're not we should like rad talking about it. It just seems like you know, one thing happens and we move on to the next.

Michael David Wilson 15:31

Yeah, I think so. And I mean, I feel as well. And I don't know if we touched on this last time. But as human beings, we're not, we weren't built to consume all this tragedy, you inherit because we used to just be in these little communities. But now we've got access to just watch going on globally. And so I wonder if in a way I kind of built in defense mechanism to that is to a knee for ties us to it so that we don't feel anything from any of these stories. Because if we were the fee or something with all of them, it would just be so consuming that we probably couldn't do anything, we'd become catatonic with depression.

Cynthia Pelayo 16:26

Right, I don't think I don't think the amount of information that we consume, and not just you know, a writer, a regular leisurely information, like our books or film, art, whatnot, but like social media, I don't think I don't think we were meant to, you know, be exposed to like the stream of consciousness of millions of people at any given point of time, it is just so much information to sift through. And our attention spans are probably suffering because of it. And we're not taking pause, really think about the world that we live in, and think about the decisions that we make the decisions that our peers make, or other people in our community, I just as a very, as someone that grew up without the internet, it's very fascinating to be able to process what it is now versus what it used to look like. When there wasn't all of this information. Brandon's crime has always been a constant. And, you know, phones have definitely contributed to, you know, capturing people or preventing crimes from happening. I mean, they've helped us see a lot of different injustice that have happened that has happened to, you know, marginalized groups, because of, you know, being able to take pictures and record video. And so there have been benefits to social media. There's been a lot of hurt and harm as well.

Michael David Wilson 18:15

Yeah, yeah, I think so. And, I mean, you spoke about, we're not supposed to be exposed to the stream of consciousness from others. And I think as well, when using social media, it's important to remind ourselves that we don't have to deliver our own stream of consciousness because if we're not careful, we can become so wired that anything that happens, we want to write a tweet about it. We just don't need to do that.

Cynthia Pelayo 18:46

I'm guilty of it. I mean, I think that's That's definitely how I heart of how I I was a horror writer back and forth to the other time, and I wrote and published some works. And then I took about four years off, like from what 23 years off in 2016 and playing it and when I came back into our space, I went on so social media and meeting people and tweeting every random talk today had I'm getting involved in like the day's discourse. until like, it started deteriorating my mental health. Yeah, because I would go on I would wake up in the morning, which is the worst thing you should you the worst, the absolute worst thing you can ever do is wake up in the morning and reach for your phone. Don't ever do that. Everyone don't ever ever do that. The very first thing you should do when you wake up in the morning is just be grateful. You've had like another morning with your your your your peace for a moment. But, you know, I would just spend hours online, getting involved in whatever discussion was happening and you know, yesterday I looked and of course For a slew of like, discussions that were happening in like real right or space, and I thought, you know, I, you know, I thought to myself like, this will take so much. What do I want to do? Do I want to allow all of this to take my psychic energy? Or do I just want to write? So I'm like, I just want to write, that's all I want to do. I don't want to be a social media failure. And I don't, I don't think that. And then it's hard, because I know that the reason I'm being part of the reason I'm being recognized, and I guess avato for stokercon was because of my work in the heart community, and supporting people and championing championing championing people. But I feel like I can do that with my mentor, with my mentoring with other work as I do with a CWA. It's just social media, I, I've taken a step back from what I eat, I feel like I used to be, and I put that time into the writing, because ultimately, that's what we want to do. We're here to write. That's what I want to do. I just want to spend my time writing as much as I can.

Michael David Wilson 21:15

Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, in terms of going back to crime scene, I wonder, what was some of the biggest challenges of writing a 128 page prose poem.

Cynthia Pelayo 21:35

So it's funny, I started writing. And then I had to stop because it was, I started writing it in pieces. So it was like, I would read one poem, and then another poem. And then that was not working. And I had to step back and think of it as it's a story. It's one single, cohesive narrative. And so I had to step back, and then plot it out the way I would any novel, it was, of course, it wasn't going to be as long. But I had to think about it as a novel. And so when I went through, and I wrote the outline, I wrote it as a three act story. And so that was the initial challenge was, it was just the shape of it, and how it was going to look on the page, because people probably don't engage with poetry a much, or when they engage with poetry, they probably aren't used to a poem that is, you know, one, one story. So that was a challenge. And then the other challenge was, how do I make this? How do I almost like enter the forest into the forest, and all the way through was a true crime, poetry collection. And with crime scene, I wanted to be able to generate in the reader, the same intensity of emotions, like the range of emotions, that one fell into the forest, that they felt went into the forest, and I wanted to inject that in crime scene. And so I think of it as like, a temperature, like, each individual poem would have different types of temperatures throughout so then that was another way of layering the outline, because there are pieces that are more reflective, but then there are pieces that really like zoom in, on the graphic nature of let's say, like an autopsy, I do even think you might think of an autopsy detector show and how fascinating it is. But is it really fascinating, you know, like, it's, it's sad in a way, as someone is being like, you know, pulled apart and kids are being collected in order to determine what was done for them. So I wanted to be able to talk about that, and also use different styles that are well, I didn't want it to I think the danger with writing a story and birth is that everything would just sound the same. And I didn't want that at all. I wanted each individual form to sound of a different tone and the different rhythm the different pace.

Michael David Wilson 24:17

Yeah, and I think you did that masterfully. And, I mean, it and as I think is the job of good poetry, I mean, you could pack so much into so few words. I mean, some of these lines like there will never be another summer time Lullaby and blackened bones glisten in his vomit that you're capturing so much. In so little, and I mean, I found it both beautiful and disturbing, both poignant and heartbreaking. Again, I mean, that is presumably exactly what you would go in for.

Cynthia Pelayo 25:07

Definitely one, I wanted people to feel like, what feel that range of emotions of someone not only being lost, but somebody whose job it is to do this over and over again to search for what happened to somebody like that is that it's definitely not a job. I'm a career that I'm equipped for emotionally. I could not imagine the emotional, psychological mental strain an individual goes through when they arrive at a current crisis. And they have to take command of every of the situation. And they have to right away so assessing, and what happened creating a profile if they determined it to be of homicide, like I just could not. can't even imagine the amount of brainpower that goes into that.

Michael David Wilson 26:12

Yeah, yeah. I think telling the story through poems, I mean, to me, it seems to mimic a crime investigation and following clues better than a conventional prose piece would.

Cynthia Pelayo 26:29

Thank you. Yeah, I think I wanted to take several aspects of the investigation process and focus in on them a little bit more than we see in a novel or whatnot, you know, you're just, maybe you would just read like, a quick paragraph or a sentence. And we went to the medical examiner's office and it's like, no, I wanted to really create like this cold and sterile environment and show you what it what does it look like in a medical examiner's office? What does it look like? Does it feel like in an interrogation room, what are the emotions that someone's probably feeling when someone's sitting across from them and is no. Not being cooperative. So I wanted to be able to press that I wanted to be able to express like, what the crime scene look like. I don't think many people realize that, especially a real crime scene takes place in the cabin in the woods, but like it does, it takes place in a wooded area. And one thing that I read from investigators is that one of the difficult aspects of recovering a body and like in a wooded area that over time the body decomposes in such a way that it does become difficult to even like to even start that body and this type of landscape it just starts taking on the shape of and form of the landscape around it like being covered in leaves and completely decayed to the point where you can't really there's no indication that was once a person in the bones could sometimes be carried off by small critters and so it's like that it's just so sad. So sad to me to think that how many people are were disposed of and these beautiful landscapes and like the very last thing that they saw was like sky above all the tree beside them and that's where there's there's a lot waiting to be fun

Michael David Wilson 28:51

Yeah. How did Agent K first come into your life?

Cynthia Pelayo 28:57

of I'm thinking of detective one Medina from children of Chicago. And I like it's not the same detective because detective Lauren Medina is a little bit more difficult. I wanted somebody that was more of a martyr but in a very somber and I wanted somebody without an a name so that's why I just gave her you know, I initially uses Detective K throughout. And I I didn't give her a name at the end of the the detectives for like Detective K and detective on K for kill and for murder. That's the way I thought about it is a process like this is what they do. Like they investigate killings and they investigate murders. So I want to keep things as generic terms of who they were as possible so that they could be agents and in any location, so I wanted that feeling where they it wasn't a particular city or particular town. This could be any agents, any special agent that investigates homicides.

Michael David Wilson 30:16

Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. And I wanted to obviously, this starts with two kids finding a dead body. Have you ever discovered a dead body?

Cynthia Pelayo 30:30

No, but seeing the body when I was a journalist. So I've been in bodies in the street from gunfire, young young people, not enough 1718 year olds and children to have children. So it's, there's one in particular that I remember that I can't get him out of my head, I still think about him. And it's something that sticks with you. It doesn't go it doesn't go away. You just think of the sadness of just seeing someone does they're on the street, and how to some quick actions ended a person's life. So I wanted to write about what I want to, how would I mean, if I saw that, and I was in my 20s. And it's stay with me for now? What would happen to two small children? You know, I think, and I wanted to write about that, in a sense, like, and how that innocence was taken away from them, because they came across this crime scene. And so how did that moment, impact her entire life? And that's one of the things I've said about just crime in general, is that homicide ripples across a family and community. If someone is lost, you know, I could be somebody's you know? You know, let's just say someone's mother's murdered. Well, what happens to those children, what kinds of feelings and emotions are going to happen to those children that's gonna carry on for generations, and are their partner that's gonna carry on for generations as well. And there's always going to be these questions and this lingering trauma like it doesn't a sink when a single person is lost. It is just not that that single person was asked it was like, somebody lives are destroyed, and changed and set off course, of what they were originally asked. Just because someone, some wicked, an evil person, thought that they could do these awful things. And, of course, these evil people don't care. They're out there. They do awful things. And so I wanted to write about that and then show what happened to these children or they got and how that crime impacted their life.

Michael David Wilson 33:12

Yeah, and I recall the first time that we spoke you talking about how your own innocence was, in a sense, taken away at an early age, you know, you became aware of the injustice is in the world fairly early on.

Cynthia Pelayo 33:31

Yeah, I grew up in. I grew up in an inner city in Chicago, which at isn't the Hadees. And there's still areas where it's still very difficult. But there was, there was a lot of games, guns, a lot of deaths, a lot of fights, a lot of just a lot of anger. I know people who were were killed too young. I know people who killed people when they were very young. And, and I, I saw communities destroyed. I saw what it did to two parents and two siblings and two partners like what is probably just utterly destroyed. People I saw someone passionate losses. A good example of someone who lost his brother and to violence. And he, for years, we thought he was doing well. And no, they just came back one day. And it emerged in them in the form of alcoholism for him because he felt guilty. Like he just took on this guilty feeling that his brother was murdered and he could not come to terms with it. And he eventually died from alcoholism. And it was just, it was just so tragic, because he would, he would fight that like I'm drinking because I'm dreaming about him and I'm seeing him And I wasn't there for him. And it was just, it's just awful to see this, and I still carry this, I still carry a lot of this because it's, it doesn't go away, doesn't go away. It's, it's become a part of who I am and part of what I have, right. But I feel like I didn't allow it to pardon me, I also didn't allow it to dark me either, like I didn't, you know, I don't think I could have easily have gotten lost and like the intense and sad feelings from seeing so much hurt and harm. And I felt like what I could do to combat that and to rebel against all that violence and hurt and harm that I saw was to become a positive person in the community and to show the youth in our neighborhood that you know, you can live your life and work towards what you want to become, and you don't have to allow these evil things. To defy you. I was not going to allow any of those evil things that were like, in my periphery to take me down. That was not going to happen.

Michael David Wilson 36:21

Yeah. And to token about things taking you down. This may be a bit of a tenuous segue. But of course, earlier in the conversation, you spoke about the controversy when children of Chicago went viral, and obviously that having an effect on us. So I'm wondering what were some a domain controversial controversies, or what were some of the main things that you experienced as a result of that? And then how did you navigate it and protect your own health?

Cynthia Pelayo 36:59

Yeah, so definitely, a lot of the controversy was around. I mean, I, I write across genres. So I think there's, I think that I need to establish that. And so I write crime, I write mystery, write horror, I write a range of genres. Detective police procedurals. And so I feel like even though on the back, the description of the book says detective Lauren Medina. So I think when a lot of people came to the novel, they knew me from into the florist, or they knew me from my other horror stories. And they stepped into it. And they're like, Well, this is a cop book, as I call it, description says it on the backs of detective story. And so it's the world that we live in, you know, we've been trying to hold law enforcement accountable for the multitude of in justices that we have seen over time over history. And so I think there was some belief that the book was meant, the book was written in a way to praise any witch person. And, you know, children of Chicago, is a commentary on youth violence in the city of Chicago. And it's also a commentary on the people we believe, that are in charge of taking care of us. And protecting us, sometimes are not the ones that are taking care of us or have our best interests, and sometimes are the ones that are doing the most harm. So that was my commentary. And I think maybe for some people, they, you know, this was definitely at a time where, you know, the George Floyd, murder happened, and there was a lot going on in the media. And so when the book came out, it came out at that time. And I remember people saying, well, now, a cop book is being released right now. And it's just like, why Voltas like years ago, and I'm also a member of the Mystery Writers of America. I'm also a mystery writer. So you know, this is a genre that I I write I blend genres. And so I felt like, I had to get defensive or a little bit and it wasn't that I was I don't think I was defending the critique because I believe that, you know, I 100% believe if you read something, and it doesn't even you don't like it. Yeah, totally. And you know, everyone has a right to their opinion. And, you know, reviews are for reviewers. But I was kind of shocked that people were like, Why did you write this book? I think they probably thought it was gonna be something else. Like, I don't know. Maybe they thought it wasn't right about monsters. I have no clue. I just don't I don't know. understand what it was people went into it expecting, I thought that the description on the back of the book was very clear that this was a detective novel with horror. So that was part of it. And so I think that it was hurtful and harmful, that people thought I was trying to create some type of harm with the book. And so that was upsetting. I was like, you know, I've had people like in my family murdered by law enforcement. So it was difficult, it was very, very different, very, very difficult for me to hear some of the criticism that people thought I was trying to create harm. And I was like, Yeah, I would. That was not my intention with the book at all. My intention with the book was, you know, if you read the book, you see what type of character a main protagonist is. So I took some time off of social media. Because I was like, I just should not be here. And I had to process a lot of things. And then I just started using, I think I've started using social media a little bit differently since then. I don't read reviews at all. That's what I it's none of my business. What's in a review, I don't care. It's when, you know, when when people were like, Yeah, publicly stating, Cynthia intentions were XY and Z. I was like, Well, no, you can't say that. That was not my intention. And all that's when I take issue with stuff. But even that, just kind of like, you know, I'm staying away from any type of critique of what I write what's on any review sites, I mean, the book that I have, you know, my, my release, for example, upcoming releases, of detective novels, you know, blends. I mean, that was part of part of my focus, and my master of Master of Fine Arts and writing at the school there is to was on detective fiction, I studied pole when invented the detective the role that adjuster would see, I guess, depends. And, you know, sir, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes, Holmes, and Agatha Christie's, you know, various detectives, I'm fascinated by these individuals whose job it is to investigate and to analyze. And so that's just, you know, one of my interests, and I think that's definitely something that I'm gonna continue exploring in my section. I forgot the second the third part of your question, but that's, that's part of, I think, it's finished what I've learned, I think what I've learned is from all that, from going viral, is that just step out of it, just step away from it. I mean, things take on things take on a life of their own. And so it's just, it's just better just to kind of step away, you know, we're creators, everyone, I think every, every writer has a right to write whatever they want. Of course, if you write like stereotypical hurtful or harmful detective depictions, you're gonna get criticized, there's going to be critique, there's gonna be critique regardless. Just step away from it, I mean, you we have to do, we have to write, I hope that most authors, especially in har are trying to be as respectful. Various groups as possible, I hope that people are in power, or not trying to create some direct harm to individuals. And at least for my heart, to heart, I write, I wanted to highlight or I do want to highlight the true hearts that are out there in the world. And if anything, children of Chicago may just sit back and be like, I'm really mad that these bad people exist. Well, then I guess I accomplished I accomplished what I set out to do. Because that was part of my intention with the book was to make you so mad at the end, with this main character that you are like, I was duped all along, for this person. Yeah, you probably were. And that was probably part of my intention to to show you how we can easily believe that somebody has our best interest and they don't.

Michael David Wilson 44:47

Yeah, did you ever get any kind of mail from people who are annoyed as to how it had ended? Because I imagine that that would have been quite a point of care. intention and very polarizing

Cynthia Pelayo 45:03

someone when they threw it across the room. They're like, I threw the book across the room and a few people were like, the book doesn't even really and I was like, I know Isn't that awful? And that was my response was like well yeah, it's it doesn't really end because crime isn't really and I and I think people are gonna be even more like upset because the the follow up because shoe makers magician has nothing to do with children or Chicago. It is a standalone it's, it is still a story in the universe. You do find out there is one chapter devoted to I mean, Lauren Medina is kind of like the ghost that kind of hovers throughout the book. And she's mentioned, it's in pieces, but you do sort of find out what happened to her. But the shoemakers magician has a very different type of story. It's still a captive story, but it's more it's probably more speculative. Because of there's a lot of fantastical elements in it. And it follows the Lomo Ramos who is a YouTuber who has who hosts a horror YouTube channel where she reviews and talks about horror movies from the earliest are films of black and white films to present day. And her husband Sebastian Ramos is a homicide detective and he finds a body at the Chicago theater and also deals with the iconic figure of the horror host. You know, we know our Veyron Vampira. So it does feature. Those elements. Talk about too much to not only give it away, but it does deal with abandoned movie palaces in Chicago, the history of the horror host magic high magic, which is Golden Dawn, esoteric occult rituals. So I hope people like it. It's very different than children of Chicago. It's not as me mean, I want to say I think children of Japan was very mean, it was it was a mean book, a detective. And that book was very mean, and cold and disconnected. But the protagonist and the shoe makers magician Paloma is a YouTuber who was a little Elora phobic and doesn't like to leave her house. And she's madly in love with her little boy who is on the autism spectrum, and she wants to do everything that she can to protect him.

Michael David Wilson 47:59

See, and we have children of Chicago was you said there were some people in the horror community who were upset that it was to crime. Now you're gonna have people in the crime fiction community who are upset that this one has too many speculative elements. And it's like, seeing this just fucking with you. You don't know what she's gonna do.

Cynthia Pelayo 48:20

Exactly. And we shouldn't. That was definitely I think that was definitely which was under Chicago. People were like, but that is a crime book. I'm like, Ha, I write. I write across genres. And I, if there's anything I want to do in my career, is I want to be able to obliterate this idea of genre. I want to be able to play in any genre box that I want. I want to be able to, I do love speculative. I feel like that's kind of what my home is always going to be there was telling Brian Keene the other day, I was like, I really want to write just like a sweeping historical novel when they like without speculative elements. And so I think that's what's exciting about being a writer is that we have this amazing talent This is magic what we do we create worlds and create people and stories and so I don't want to be restricted to any one design of a story. I don't want to write vampire stories for the rest of my life. I want to write you know, you know, crime scene you know, that's that's not there's really no specular elements in that in those probably makes me dream or like, wondering where she wakes up from some nightmares that you might kind of feel like there's like this watery element of speculative but there really wasn't a speculative poetry coming out, is more grounded in realism. And so I hope people realize that when they come to my writing, you're never know what you're going to get and it's always going to get My goal is to always be different. Each and every time I do say that I write fairy tales. I think you know children Chicago is definitely a fairy tale. It's adapted it is an adaptation of the pied piper fairy tale. The shoemakers magician is not a fairy tale. It's a it's a fable. The book explains why it's a fable but it's basically there's a moral to the story. The the story doesn't get them all there. My release for Thomas and Mercer and 2024 is an adaptation of The Little Mermaid. That's been announced. So you if you look at the Publishers Marketplace, you would see adaptations A Little Mermaid, but I love fairy tales. That was also here. So when I studied when I was selling my MFA, my focus was on detective fiction, fairy tales. folklore and then like, please, I work with the playwright was one of my graduate advisors. So I was really fascinated in structure in the form of plays. influenced my writing as well.

Michael David Wilson 51:10

Yeah, I could just imagine at the time, maybe some resistant professors being like, Oh, no fish, you're gonna do with detective fiction, fairy tales and plays. It's like, some praise motherfucker.

Cynthia Pelayo 51:28

I don't want to be boring. And I, you know, you have to, you have to write what you like. And like, these are the things that make it make me excited. And I enjoy. I used to, I don't have much time anymore. But I used to love going to new theater and watching various plays or experimental performances. And I just think there's so much that can be done there structurally. And but yeah, I, like you said, I'm just here to talk with people. I just, I hope that that's what I continue doing in my writing careers, I want to continue to experiment, I want to continue to push myself push what it is, I can write and layer and I know right right now like my next, like, again, my 2024 releases another detective, fairy tale, type novel, or historical and Detective variables. The one in 2025 is 35. So it has 35 elements and horror. Historical, but maybe a little bit more just like drama. So it's gonna be interested in that, see how that one's going to play out and be received. Because that one deals with a lot of big ideas. So we'll see how people receive that. I'm never going to write the same thing. I don't want to write the same thing. And I know that there are people that they enjoy writing the same story. And that's wonderful. You have to write what makes you happy for me. I want to do something different each and every time I sit down and work on a new project.

Michael David Wilson 53:09

Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, as a writer, and as a reader writing, you know, having the author writes in a range of genres and be an unsure exactly what they're going to do next keeps things very interesting. But I do wonder, has there been any pushback or reluctance from editors and publishers? Because I mean, they can want things to sit in neat genre boxes, or at least to have you keep doing the same thing. I mean, we were talking to Dean Koontz the other day. Now, you're publishing may with Thomas and Mercer Yeah, he he did. I don't know if you know, but when he originally wrote on Thomas, his publisher was not happy because it completely deviated from what he had done before. And well, seemed to work out okay for him in the end, didn't it?

Cynthia Pelayo 54:10

We actually share the same editor, which is completely insane to me. But it's, I mean, he's just, he's been writing forever. And so like, he's, you know, his work is just he's an icon. Think right now, I'm just I am learning how to adapt my style from the indie presses into like a larger publisher. Because there's different you know, I think what I think what's make what makes the end is especially indie horror, just so fantastic, is that the level of the range and The Freedom for experimentation that is available there. So, and then with a larger publisher, and various imprints, you know, you have, you know, one thing I was learning was just that, you know, each imprint has its own theme and approach. And so that's what I'm learning, like, how do you write within the parameters of this imprint or this publisher? Because there's different sorts of needs given because of the wider readership. So I think with like, Amazon publishing, for example, is like, you know, they're gonna have, or Thomas and Mercer specifically, they have a wider readership in terms of like, in comparison to like, maybe within the indie horrors, so indie horror space. I think, I guess the best example, when I told Brian Keene the other day, it's like, well, you know, whereas in the indie space, I probably would have like, killed everybody in my story. I probably can't get away with that, like in a larger publisher. Because you don't want to upset people as opposed to like an MD. They'll be like, Yeah, you're amazing. And you can get away with that.

Probably at a at a larger publisher, because

you might, you know, make some readers sad. We want you know, we want to make sure that we're considering the readership that that we're writing for.

Michael David Wilson 56:42

Thank you so much for listening to This Is Horror with Cynthia Palacio. Do join us again next time for the second and final part of the conversation, where we discuss Cynthia's Thomas and Mercer Amazon book deal. her literary agent Elaine Haymond, the rerelease of Lotteria and much more. But if you want it ahead of the crowd, if you want every episode ahead of the crowd, if you want to support This Is Horror Podcast, then become a patron@patreon.com forward slash, this is hora. Now before I wrap up, it is time for a quick advert break.

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Michael David Wilson 58:33

As always, I would like to end with a quote. And this is from Helen Keller. Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. I'll see you in the next episode for the second part of the conversation with Cynthia phileo. But until then, take care yourselves. Be good to one another. Read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.

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