LJ Talks to Horror Writer V. Castro, Author of ‘The Queen of the Cicadas’

V. Castro talks with LJ about her path to publication and explains how her own history is at the root of the success of her horror novels. 

V. Castro is a Mexican American horror writer from Texas, now living in the UK. She is the author of Goddess of Filth and The Queen of the Cicadas, and the co-founder of www.FrightGirlSummer.com, a website dedicated to amplifying marginalized voices in dark fiction.

Castro talks with LJ about her path to publication and explains how her own history is at the root of the success of her horror novels.

Despite The Queen of the Cicadas being your debut novel, your name is not new to horror fans. Just in the last 12 months you’ve released a critically acclaimed novella and multiple short stories, and been involved with getting a few collections out into the world. Can you get our library readers up to speed on your numerous projects over the last year?

It has been a truly amazing year professionally, despite the struggles associated with the pandemic. Writing is what I love, it has been my salvation. At the very beginning of the pandemic, I released Sed de Sangre, a very short collection of erotic horror. It’s spicy and fun!

After that I had seven short stories included in various anthologies. I co-edited Latinx Screams with Cina Pelayo. This is an all-Latinx short story collection of horror.

I released [novella] Goddess of Filth on March 30, 2021, and The Queen of the Cicadas will be out on June 21. In November, Mestiza Blood will be released with Flame Tree Press. This is my short story collection based on growing up in Texas, being a Chicana, and local urban legends. I’m very fortunate for all of it to come to fruition!

One the threads in all your work is amplifying the voice of women, and in particular marginalized voices. You are very conscious of “paying it forward” to other writers and lending your voice to help them be successful, but I want to ask—who are your influences, as a reader, and as a writer who is a woman of color?

Growing up, it was slim pickings, to say the least, when it came to Latina voices. Isabel Allende and Sandra Cisneros were both writers I looked up to. I also read Terry McMillan and Toni Morrison.

As a writer, I try to just be myself. I’m influenced most by my personal experiences, the women in my life, and my Mexican American roots. The Chicana experience is unique.

Let’s talk about the novel itself. The Queen of the Cicadas is a modern story that draws on Aztec legend to tell a truly terrifying and utterly unique horror story. Why did you write about the legend of La Reina de las Chicharras in this tale? And this isn’t the first time you’ve looked to Latin American legends and myths in your work. What do you find inspiring about these tales?

The film Candyman was the catalyst. I was delighted when it was announced Jordan Peele was behind a reboot. My second thought was how I wanted to write about the urban legends I grew up with, my family history in migrant farmwork, and my ancestral history. [The figure of] La Reina de las Chicharras is completely new. This idea came from the chicharra shells that I was fascinated with, growing up in Texas. Call it a perfect storytelling storm!

I’m inspired by my history because it is real horror. There is a horror in how farmworkers have been treated despite being a vital part of life for greater society. There is a very dark side to being the Other. It all lends itself to being explored via horror.

You live in the UK now but are a Texas girl, and you use your home state as a setting for your work. What is it like being an expat, and how does it inform your work?

It has its ups and downs. Like everything in life, there are pros and cons. Living in London has allowed me to travel extensively throughout Europe and as far as Japan and Africa. Being immersed in different cultures has enriched my soul and given my imagination extra fire. These experiences have been priceless; however, the homesickness is very real. We will see what the future holds.

I can’t let you go without asking you which currently publishing authors you are most excited to read for yourself. What writers should all the library workers know about, and why do you love them?

Where do we even start?! Jessica Guess, Linda Addison, Hailey Piper, Gabino Iglesias, Laurel Hightower, Monique Quintana, Rios de la Luz, Cina Pelayo, and Sonora Taylor. Librarians can go to www.FrightGirlSummer.com to check out the reading lists for women in dark fiction.

I love the writers listed, and all the writers on Fright Girl Summer, because they do not hold back their authentic voices. Indie publishing allows us to cultivate that; however, it is harder to spread the word.—Becky Spratford

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing