Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Erin Finnegan for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Author: Erin Finnegan
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: C.B. Messer
Genre: Contemporary, Drama, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Gay Romance, New Adult, Romance
Release Date: 11/03/2016
Each week, Gabriel Romero’s drive to Sunday Mass takes him past “El Ángel,” the golden statue at the heart of Mexico City that haunts his memories and inspires his future. Spurred by the memory of his parents, Gabriel is drawn to the secretive world of lucha libre, where wrestling, performance art, and big business collide.
Under the conflicting mentorships of one of lucha libre’s famed gay exótico wrestlers and an ambitious young luchador whose star is on the rise, Gabriel must choose between traditions which ground him but may limit his future, and the lure of sex and success, which may compromise his independence. Surrounded by a makeshift family of wrestlers, Gabriel charts a course to balance ambition, sexuality, and loyalty to find the future that may have been destined for him since childhood.
We are here today to talk about Luchador. What can you tell us about it?
Luchador is the coming of age story of Gabriel Romero, a young exótico wrestler in Mexico City’s professional lucha libre circuit. Exóticos are typically openly gay, and perform as a sort of drag act in the otherwise macho confines of masked wrestling. Gabriel challenges some of the conventions of his craft as he tries to sort out both his personal and professional identities, and learns lessons about life, love, and family in the process.
Please tell us more about our main characters.
This is very much Gabriel’s story—as he trains and begins to climb the ranks of lucha libre, he is torn by the conflicting influences of his professional mentor—an aging luchador who performs as a flamboyant exótico but is also one of the toughest trainers in the business, and by a young rudo (an antagonist/villain) whose star is on the rise but whose tactics and intentions are questionable. Gabriel is drawn to him, as well as to the brother of an American wrestler who trains at his gym.
What about Luchador makes you the proudest?
Lucha libre is a world of symbolism and themes, and I wanted this reflected in this Luchador. It required a lot of research—including a trip to Mexico City to spend time at both Arena Coliseo and Arena Mexico, the traditional and modern homes of lucha libre. The book juggles multiple themes—some obvious, some less so—from religious symbolism to the role of the iconic luchador masks in storytelling and character identity.
A lot of work went into striking a balance between making lucha libre accessible for readers who may not know much about the performance sport and with those who follow it closely. It was also important to strike the right note in the depiction of exóticos, for whom I have enormous respect. Some of the great exótico luchadores—Cassandro and Pimpinela Escarlata, in particular—may play effeminate characters, but they’re also tough, badass wrestlers. One of the main themes in this book is the question of appearance versus reality, and whether exóticos cater to antiquated stereotypes of what it means to be gay, or whether they are more authentic than traditional luchadores.
What is next for these characters? Is there more to this series? If so who will we hear from next?
That’s it for this crew. On to the next adventure!
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Be true to yourself. Tune out the noise of whatever the current trends are, or whatever Twitter is telling you to be or what some reviewer said once and instead write the story that calls out to you. Just because everyone’s writing fantasy YA or mysterious billionaire vampires doesn’t mean you have to do it, too. Go ahead and write that angsty Studio 54 murder in the disco saga with a mad back beat you’ve had tucked away in the notebook for the past five years. An authentic voice and an unusual story is so much more interesting than the 500th retelling of the trope de jeur.
What tool do you use to plan scenes? (such as index cards, white board, ouiji board, etc)
My trusted companion is a cheap composition book. My BFF is Target, when it puts comp books on sale for 50 cents before the start of the school year. Is it old fashioned? You bet, but I don’t fear making a mess of them as character names, plot points, and research noties get added in or scratched out. Yes, I use Scrivener to an extent, and my iPad is a repository of early drafts before I import them on to my laptop, but comp books are where ideas are hatched. For Luchador, I added one step at the very front end of planning the manuscript—color-coded Post-It notes mapping out plot points over seven themes. I pasted them to a poster board that’s still in my office.
What was your inspiration for this story?
This is the story I’ve been looking forward to telling, because I remember the exact moment that the idea for Luchador burrowed its way into my head. It was three years ago, and I was working with a local vintner’s co-op to try to harvest the fruit and rescue the vines in an old Zinfandel vineyard before it was to be plowed under for new construction. I had the doors open on my car and was listening to NPR’s Weekend Edition, which ran a story about the exótico wrestlers of lucha libre and how they are beloved by Mexico’s LGBTQ community. I was absolutely riveted and set my tools aside and climbed into the car to listen to the entire story. You can find it here: https://www.npr.org/player/embed/218990776/219964245
How do you choose names? If you decide to change a name, do you feel that it alters your perception of the character?
I think names are so important, they can hint at character traits—not just the name that a writer chooses for their characters, but how it is employed. For example, is a character “Thomas” in front of one group, but “Tom” to others? When does he do this, and why? What does that say about him? I love playing with formalities versus casual nicknames.
Names are particularly important in Luchador because so many of the characters have stage names which say something about both their character on stage and their character as individuals: El Ángel Exótico, La Rosa, El Cadejo, La Tormenta Oscura, Electra, and even the burlesque artist, Fanny Vice.
I struggled over some of the character names, and a few of them changed over the course of writing the book. I scoured registers of luchadores to try to avoid using established names, but I also wanted to make certain that the names fit the character.
Take El Cadejo, for example. This is Arturo Guerra’s character in the ring—a rudo or bad guy. And Arturo, Gabriel’s first love, is an antagonist, and quite possibly a bad guy himself. His luchador name is carefully chosen: The cadejo is a supernatural character from the folklore of Southern Mexico and Central America. There is a good cadejo and an evil cadejo. Both are dog spirits that appear in the night to travelers: the good cadejo to protect them and the evil cadejo—who some interpret as the devil—to harm them.
How important are secondary characters to your story telling? Do you actively try to have women characters in your M/M to balance the male focus of the MCs?
Secondary characters offer another insight into your MC: Who are they drawn to, and why? Who do they let down their guard with? Who puts them on edge, and why? Though Luchador is written from one POV, having an ensemble of friends and fellow wrestlers around Gabriel gives us another view into his world. I especially loved writing the wrestlers: Miguel, so gruff and knowledgeable with secrets of his own; Ray, a ball of sunshine built like a linebacker; El Diablo Azul, who fights his own demons to transcend into someone new; Lola, the tough-as-nails luchadora who hides her frailties behind a character. I loved writing this crew, and Gabriel couldn’t have gone from student to super estrella without them.
What book do you keep by your bed?
It rotates, and books share that space on the nightstand. Currently, there are three: Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older and Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. Lovingly tucked beneath them is the print edition of Season One of Ngozi Ukazu’s webcomic, Check Please!, which I risk fangirling right here and now. It’s smart, funny—and developed like a good novel.
If you could be one of your characters who would you be and why?
Fanny Vice, because she knows how to rock a trapeze and manage a portfolio.
Do you remember a character talking about a particular food and it made you want to eat it RIGHTNOW? and if yes, what was it?
Oh good lord, I think its just coincidence, but Interlude Press has books with ridiculous descriptions of food: Lynn Charles’ Irish cooking in Chef’s Table, Lissa Reed’s pastries in Definitely, Maybe Yours, and the one that kills me—Alicia Constantine’s Sweet. It’s a simple recipe, really. Peaches and… You’ll just have to read it. Trust me.
And to wash it all down, there are some decent descriptions of Syrah in Sotto Voce.
Rapid Fire Time
- Batman or Superman? Batman has the cool toys. Superman’s got the booty. Call it a draw.
- Salt or Pepper? Always pepper, rarely salt.
- Ice Skating or Ice Hockey? I own an inflatable Stanley Cup. GO KINGS.
- Boxers or Briefs? Boxer briefs.
- West Wing or Friday Night Lights? This is Sophie’s Choice! Fine, West Wing, but by this much.
- Peanuts or Cashews? Cashews! In Salads! On Pizzas! In chocolate clusters! In my mouth!
- Windows or Mac? I ditched my PC years ago and never looked back.
- Sex or Chocolate? Both. At the same time.
- Coffee, black or doctored? Surgical levels of doctored.
- Cook or eat out? If I’m doing the cooking, then eat out.
- Baseball or Cricket? I live and breathe Dodger baseball.
What are you working on? What is next?
Actually, I’m terribly superstitious about talking about works-in-progress. I know a lot of writers who talk publicly about their work from the moment they get a new idea, but I tend to keep mum until I at least have a draft in hand. Let’s just say I have ideas, and I’m letting them percolate for a while. I’m in no rush.
Gabriel arrived early to Arena Coliseo in jeans and a T-shirt with the Dark Phoenix costume stashed in his backpack. It was a good hour before the arena was to open to staff and wrestling crews, but he had a friend at the box office who let him in, let him walk the space and get a feel for the venue that he had sat in so many times before as a fan.
He climbed into the ring between the ropes, a pedestrian move that would be replaced by a luchador’s vaulted flip in a few hours. Alone in the center of the ring, he looked up and absorbed the stark confines of Mexico City’s aging wrestling palace: the netting that protected drunken fans from falling off the upper decks; the thick coats of robin’s egg blue paint that stretched from floor to ceiling, four levels up; the empty beer stations standing sentinel at each corner of the room.
Arena Coliseo had little outward charm and had been overshadowed in recent years by the flash of laser light shows, jumbotrons, and booming sound systems at Arena México. But it owned the sport’s history, its glory, and many of its ghosts. Miguel’s history lessons flooded over Gabriel as he looked into the empty seats. During World War II, the archbishop had blessed the arena before it opened for its first bout. Over the years, two luchadores had died wrestling in its ring when planned maneuvers went awry.
Fans of the spectacle watched lucha libre at Arena México.
Fans of lucha libre watched it at Arena Coliseo.
Miguel’s choice of venues for Gabriel’s debut had not been accidental. Gabriel looked at the ceiling, at nothing in particular, and mindlessly touched the base of his neck, feeling the gold chain and the cross that hung from it. His fingers traced it while he shut his eyes and exhaled.
Gabriel looked up to see the silhouette of a man standing near the top row of the floor seats. Arturo had arrived long before the evening’s card demanded.
“How long were you standing there? And why aren’t you wearing your mask? You always wear your mask to the arena.”
“Long enough. And I don’t wear it when I’m this early. I was looking for you.”
Even after months together, Arturo could unravel Gabriel with just a look. Simply by entering the room, he could lay claim to Gabriel’s unwavering attention. His power, his intensity, and his authority combined in a siren call, leaving Gabriel self-conscious and on-edge.
Part of it, admittedly, was simple attraction. Even hidden behind his mask, El Cadejo had lured Gabriel in from the first time they met. And months after their first night together, simply knowing what that body could do to him threw him off balance and filled him with want. That Arturo was also his senior, his instructor, left him feeling stripped of power, which he had willingly surrendered.
About the Author
Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and a winemaker who lives in the foothills outside Los Angeles. A lifelong sports fan and occasional sports writer, she has had to dive out of the way of flying luchadores at matches in both the U.S. and Mexico. Her first novel, Sotto Voce, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and a Foreword INDIEFAB Silver Book of the Year Award. Get to know Erin at Erin-Finnegan.com and on Twitter at @eringofinnegan.
|3-Nov||Prism Book Alliance|
|4- Nov||MM Book Escape|
|7- Nov||Molly Lolly|
|8- Nov||Joyfully Jay|
|9- Nov||Just Love Books|
|10- Nov||The Novel Approach|
|11- Nov||Havan Fellows|
|14- Nov||From Top to Bottom Reviews|
|15- Nov||Parker Williams|
|16- Nov||Bayou Book Junkie|
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
|This post may contain affiliate links.
|Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews. The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.|