Cynthia “Cina” Pelayo


V: What does being Latina mean to you?

C: For me it means family, history, food, and determination. I think of my mother and grandmother and the struggles that they endured and that those challenges didn’t define them. They experienced so many hardships, but they persevered and that’s what those inspiring women have left to me, a legacy of women – who may not be materialistically wealthy – but who are profoundly wealthy in spirit. I think of them every time I face a challenge and I feel like giving up, and then I tell myself they didn’t have a choice to give up. They kept on going and so will I.


V: Who are your Latina influences? This can be anyone!


C: So many. My mother and father’s mother for sure. I never met my mother’s mother, but the stories of her kindness are legendary. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor for sure. I think I’m her biggest fangirl. AOC. Jennifer Lopez. Rita Moreno. I know, lot of Puerto Rican women, but honestly, growing up there were such few Puerto Rican women that were role models – they were there, but few in the media or politics and I’m so glad to see so many now. In terms of writing, Carmen Maria Machado, Ann Davila Cardinal, Zoraida Cordova, Lilliam Rivera, Isabel Allende, Elizabeth Acevedo, Erika Sanchez, Esmeralda Santiago, YOU - V. Castro and more.


V:How did you begin your writing journey?

C: I started writing non-fiction in high school, essays and journalism. I majored in journalism in            undergrad and worked as a freelance journalist for years, while working full-time in                marketing where I still work. I moved into fiction writing around 2008, where I pursued an         MFA – and was the only Latina in the program at the time, and the only person writing   genre fiction at that. I started with Young Adult Horror first, then branching into poetry and slowly moving into Adult Horror. I’ve just finished a Middle Grade horror novel as well. So              it’s been a steady climb, but I’ve allowed myself space to explore different words and        worlds, and to just write what feels right for me at that time.


V: Advice for other Latinas wanting to begin writing.

C: You belong here. Your words belong here. Write what you want to write and stick with it. If             you need support reach out and connect to other Latina writers. There’s a supportive community here and we will all rise up together.



V: Three favorite books written by Latinas.

C: When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago      

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

The Houseguest by Amparo Davila


V: What was your inspiration for your story in Latinx Screams?

C: I was an editor J So I was just cheering all of you fantastic writers on.


V: What draws you to horror? Favorite horror film?

C: I don’t think I’ve watched a sitcom since the 1990s. So, to say I watch a lot of horror is an                understatement. I watch a lot of horror. Probably 90% of what I watch is horror related content. The other 10% is probably cartoons with my kids, documentaries, the news, and a handful of dramas.


Overall, isn’t our life horror? That’s how I look at it. We’re these balls of anxiety and worry.   We never know what’s going to happen to us when we step outside of our houses, and ultimately, we are all going to die. There’s no negotiating the fact. Each and every single one of us reading this right now will die. That is the inevitable. Our mortality is horror. We ignore it by consuming media and content and busying ourselves with things that probably don’t matter, maybe in a way to ignore the present? The future? I don’t know.


But ultimately, I feel that the horror genre is the best at communicating our anxieties, our hopes, our joys, our worries. People who say they don’t like horror are probably the same people that don’t want to think about scary things that live and breathe outside their doors, in their towns and cities. Horror is all around is. It’s called life.


I also feel as though the horror genre provides us with tools in how to process these fears      and anxieties. Dark alley? Maybe let’s not walk down there. There could be a killer. Unmarked path on a trail? Maybe avoid that because there could be a bear…or cannibalistic family.


My favorite horror movie shifts, but right now it’s probably the original French Martyrs (2008). It’s heavy, so if you haven’t watched it you’ve been warned.


V: SELF-PROMO! How can we support you and your endeavours right now? Where can we find you on social media or online?


My adult horror novel debut, , is available soon. Please support that book as it’s the most favorite thing I’ve written to date.


For social media you can find me at:

Twitter: @cinapelayo

Instagram: @cinapelayoauthor


Rios de la Luz

V: What does being Latina mean to you?

R: Being Xicana/Guatemalan means depth and a richness in how I interact with nature, my identity has helped me become fearless when it comes to my wild imagination, and has helped me recognize and continue to be thankful for the ancestors who have my back.  

V: Who are your Latina influences? This can be anyone!

R: Sandra Cisneros. Carmen Maria Machado. Meliza Bañales. Alma Rosa Castor. Marilyse Figueroa. Monique Quintana. Elizabeth Acevedo. Lilliam Rivera. Ada Limón. Myriam Gurba. Gabriela Herstik. Mala Muñoz. Diosa Femme. Vanessa Martir.

V: How did you begin your writing journey?

R: I started writing when I was 12 years old. I wrote horror chapbooks, most of them being about vengeful girl ghosts.

V: Advice for other Latinas wanting to begin writing.

R: DO IT. Inspiration can come from any form of art, not just books, but do read as many voices as you can that differ from your own. Your writing voice will come with time, but you’ll know it when you get there.   

V: Three favorite books written by Latinas.

R: Mean by Myriam Gurba. Seeing Red by Lina Meruane. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.

V: What was your inspiration for your story in Latinx Screams?

The films Midsommar, The Orphanage, and The Wailing. Also, a creepy encounter in the Santa Fe forest. 

V: What draws you to horror? Favorite horror film?

R: I think horror is fun and exposes us to monstrous parts of ourselves. Horror is also a genre that I think explores grief very well and explores the absurdities in life. I am currently 7 months pregnant and writing has come out through exploration of body horror. I don’t know if I can pick just one favorite horror film. My favorites include: Hereditary, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Ringu.    

V: SELF-PROMO! How can we support you and your endeavours right now? Where can we find you on social media or online? is my online store and you can find me on IG and twitter @riosdelaluz

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