Monday, November 16, 2015

Where Are They Now? Interview With Tamara Romero

by Betty Rocksteady

I'm a really new writer and extra new on the bizarro scene. Unlike a lot of the other authors this year, I didn't personally know any of the previous NBAS authors. Despite that, when talk of doing interviews started, I immediately thought of Tamara Romero. Her Fingers was released as part of the 2012-2013 New Bizarro Author Series, and it is an absolutely haunting story that weaves folklore, witchcraft, and strange dreams together in a drug-soaked stew. It's darkly magical and resonates with me in a lot of ways. I'm really happy to have gotten to know Tamara a little bit.

Who was the first writer who made you fall in love with reading?
Enid Blyton. Especially her boarding school stories such as Malory Towers.

What unusual things influence your writing?
Heathenism, 80s and 90s flicks, gender studies, far travels, bizarro fiction, witchcraft, David Bowie, all kind of phobias (my own and others’), contemporary art, New Wave science fiction and space opera, Hollywood’s studio system, Japan, the NASA, Sigmund Freud and the Middle Ages. 

What happened in the latest dream you remember?
I’ve recently cut a bad habit: watching spooky documentaries on Youtube before bedtime. The last dream I can remember is myself looking at Youtube, watching an endless video of a car being washed in a car tunnel washer from the driver’s perspective. That lasted the whole night.

How did you get hooked up with NBAS?
I thought it was amazing that a publisher was actually dedicating an imprint to brand new authors. That’s bold! I had read some of the 2001 books and they happened to be great, so I pitched my story with no serious expectations. That was in May and the book was published in November, so I had to work pretty fast. Also, this just sounded like the perfect excuse to visit Portland!

What was your experience like writing Her Fingers and working with the Eraserhead editors?
The book was already written in Spanish, which is my first language, so I re-wrote the story in English chapter by chapter. It took me around a month and a half. My editor, Kevin Shamel, was incredibly supportive and helpful. I sent him the two initial chapters and then he said: Ok, just go on and send me the full book. In the end there were the typical back and forth emails with corrections and small details, but it was all pretty smooth. Kevin did a great job.

What was your favorite part about your year with the NBAS?
The beginning of my year was just unbeatable: being at Bizarro Con and meeting so many great people is as cool as holding your first book in your hands for the first time. If anyone is hesitant about going to Bizarro Con, I must say it really pays off. I definitely want to go back, unfortunately travelling overseas in November is not always possible for me. Online chats and sharing experiences with fellow NBAs authors was also rad. I’d say that the key thing I learned that year is that you must keep on writing no matter what. That’s more important than any self-promotion. I’ve been writing and publishing mostly in Spanish since then. 

How did working with the New Bizarro Author Series influence what you worked on since?
I’ve learned a lot from the Bizarro community in regards to independent publishing, DIY possibilities and my own approach to writing. I pay more attention now at high concept and I understand how important is finishing what I start and start working right away on other project. I learned not to look back, not to be focused on self-promotion but on producing worthy stories, and the most important thing: enjoying the writing process. Writing doesn’t make any sense for me if I’m not having fun.

I'd love to hear about what you're working on now, whether it be writing or something else.
I’m currently working on short stories. My goal is writing a short story in a single day each time I start a new one.  I also have three drafts of novellas written this year, I need to get back to them and make them readable. 

I drew a tarot card for you. It was the Knight of Pentacles reversed. Pentacles usually represent the physical world and material things. This reversed card has to do with boredom and routine. It seems to indicate that you are in some kind of a slump and feeling frustrated, ready for something to break you out of routine. Does this resonate or am I a charlatan?
I had to take a little break two weeks ago because I was so overworked and bored! I moved to a small coastal town and came back fully recovered. It seems that –like Beyonce- I need to spend some time next to big amounts of water to function properly. So your tarot skills seem quite accurate to me. Congratulations!

I have a few abstract pictures here I would like you to use like a Rorschach test. What do you see? Tell me a story about it. 

A rainbow tree in the middle of the desert. It’s fed by color. No need of water.

A true washing machine mess. Those flying clothes you bought are starting their own whirlwind.

Blue water. Suddenly water is blue all around. It’s not transparent anymore. So this means everything will be blue soon: our clothes and our skin. 

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