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Hello my ghouls and gals and non-binary pals. I hope this newsletter finds you well and can serve as a fun distraction to all your woes. In it you'll find an interview with Puerto Rican short fiction author, podcaster, and editor Karlo Yeager Rodríguez, as well as some excerpts of my recent work, a Sir Flynn Butters glamor shot, and, of course, a recipe.

There are a few things I want to share, first.

I guest-edited Tree and Stone Magazine's first issue of Para el Pueblo, which should be coming out pretty soon. Look out for my announcement on socials when that comes out. I got a couple more story acceptances that I'll be announcing, too, and we're getting close to the release of several pieces I sold in 2022. Keep an eye out for those coming up in the next couple months. Finally, I'm very excited to share that my story Agua, Cate just came out in Dark Matter Magazine. You can read it here. If you're a member of any historically underrepresented group and cannot afford the eBook price, send me a message. I'll get a copy in your hands. The same is true for any and all reviewers.

And the writing? I've started blogging again. Look for posts on nightmarism, hypnagogism, and my experiences as a guest editor at Tree and Stone in the next few weeks. I have also finished re-working Bearwalker into a novella and it's in the hands of some critique partners and betas. I should be getting notes back from them by the end of the month. In addition, I'm just about finished with a draft of my untitled horror novella. I'm going to get it semi-polished and send it off to some alpha readers, 'cause right now it's all vibes and I'm not sure how much plot there actually is. Finally, I've written a bare-bones outline for Rat, the next novel I'm going to work on that occurs in the same gritty, magic-punk world of Bearwalker and Nagual.

Speaking of Nagual, I'm still in the query trenches. I received a full request and a partial request so far, but it's been slow going and mostly disheartening. That's the state of querying, though, and I've made peace with the journey Nagual has taken. I got some amazing developmental notes from my friend at Brevity Editorial (see her ad below), and I'm taking those lessons into my next project.

That's about it for me, which is good because I want to get into this interview ASAP. Karlo's insights and eloquence really blew me away and I can't wait for you to read it.

So, scroll down, enjoy, and I hope you're keeping well.
Jamie at Brevity Editorial provides a range of in-depth services including short story critiques, manuscript evaluations, and full developmental edits. Writers looking to strengthen their plot, character arcs, and other story structure elements, as well as receive insights and suggestions for approaching their revisions, can find out more and at or contact her at

Karlo Yeager Rodríguez

AP: Karlo, thank you for agreeing to sit down with me for a chat. We know each other from the SFWA mentor program and SFFH Twitter, but could you introduce yourself to my readers, please?

KYR: I'm Karlo Yeager Rodríguez, a Puerto Rican short fiction author who's been published in places like Nature, Uncanny, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Speculative Fiction for Dreamers: A Latinx Anthology. I also discuss and review speculative fiction with my excellent co-hosts on my podcast, Podside Picnic and edit nonfiction for Seize the Press Magazine. The effects of the 2008 economic crash forced me to leave my birthplace and ironically move to the U.S. - the country most responsible for it. That said, I'm very happy living in rural Maryland with my spouse and our very odd dog.

AP: What is it about Latin-Americans and Maryland? I know so many outside even my own family that have randomly ended up in the DC metro area. But I digress. What has your writing journey looked like so far? What are some of the greatest ups and lowest downs you are willing to share?

KYR: I've often joked with friends that I must be pathological because I write for publication, get rejected most of the time, and instead of giving up I write even more. From what I've observed, that's what most writers experience, so it's a small consolation that I've joined in an ancient and venerable tradition. By now I've been writing short fiction for about 10 years and publishing for 9 and I have to say that not only seeing something as strange and blood-tinged and tragic as my novelette As the Shore to the Tides, So Blood Calls to Blood get published, but end up on the 2020 Locus Recommended Reading List felt very validating.

As for lowest lows, I'm unsure if my disappointments are that devastating in the grand scheme of things, but I will say that a disheartening trend is the difficulty selling stories that are not aspirational, rags-to-riches stories. Stories that critique imperialism, or don't sit firmly in favor of assimilation into what readers assume is the default culture tend to gather dozens of rejections. Of course, the submission process for almost all magazines is opaque, so I can't prove these are the reasons behind those rejections but it certainly seems like an odd coincidence. By my count, Vanishing - which I wrote in anger towards U.S. immigration policy - took around four years to see print. My most recent story, All Good Children, Come Out to Play about siblings from a poor, working family had an even longer journey to publication (six years). How Juan Bobo Got to los Nueba Yores, about (among other things) the irony of even Puerto Rico's best known folk hero being forced to live in New York City (like so many other Puerto Ricans) rather than stay on the island, was rejected by all SFF venues, and continues to have trouble getting reprinted. Readers have loved all these stories, which makes me wonder how many other Latinx writers we don't know about because their work doesn't align perfectly with SFFH sensibilities.

AP: Now, you just used the term LatinX. I am a bit of a broken record when it comes to this topic, because I have seen how strongly people feel all across the spectrum: How do you feel about that term?

KYR: I don't have strong opinions on any of the terms of self-identification, because they've changed so many times over the years. Any term used to identify people spanning a continent with 20+ countries and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean is going to be insufficient because we don't share many other traits in common. In my own lifetime, the term has changed from Hispanic to Latino to Latin@ to Latinx to Latine, and it's likely to change again. The important questions to ask about any naysaying are: is it inclusive of marginalized groups? and is it a term created by our communities to describe themselves? 

AP: That's about the best take I've heard for it, thank you. Like I said earlier, we are mutuals on Twitter. A few weeks back, you tweeted:

"Re: that writing class agreement. . . I don't spend my day thinking, "wow, I am SO Puerto Rican. I should let everyone know just HOW Puerto Rican I am" so, why would I be interested in writing fiction that does this unless I was expressly writing for a white audience?"

It got me thinking about so many things, not only about my own writing and identity, but the SFFH world at large. I find myself struggling to strike the right balance between authentically myself and my roots and writing for a western, mostly white audience. Certain tropes, styles, and choices just do not work with editors or readers unfamiliar with Latin-American traditions or literature. As you write, how much do you think about this? Have you managed to throw off the yoke of western and white? Do you try to strike a balance?

KYR: This was in response to Matthew Salesse's classroom agreement, where his students must explicitly mention a character's race as soon as they're introduced. What struck me is how often I've heard variations of this same "rule" in speculative fiction as well. However, this seems to assume your only audiences are white because in my experience Puerto Rican and Latinx are something I am and not something I think of often - except when it's used against me (though I'm white-presenting, it has happened).

I will say that as time has passed, I've internalized Stephen King's advice in On Writing: write with the door closed; revise or edit with the door open. King being King, it's clear to me he's being a little funny because this is both literal and figurative advice and I've more or less internalized it. When I start writing, I'm only writing for myself, perhaps exploring a theme or trying to work out something that's been bothering me. I not only don't, but can't think of any other audience than myself at that stage. The door stays shut. Once the story's done, that's when the door opens and I send it to readers to answer the question: does all this weird stuff make sense?
Part of that "weird stuff" is often inextricably linked to Latin American concerns - in my case, often critical of the role of the U.S. in the region (as an aside, everyone should read The Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano). For a genre that views itself as "American" (just not - you know - the southern parts) SFF doesn't want to admit that it continues to center the U.S. not only in fiction, but in its community spaces like conventions. For a convention that's been held more often within the mainland U.S., WorldCon is certainly named ironically. 

As for whether I've cast off the yoke or I attempt to strike a balance, I try to write the best story I can and have every hope that this one's going to be accepted and universally understood. That's my hope, at least. Truth is, I keep thinking about something I said on a panel a few years back: expect the story of your heart to not sell. 

I don't say this to dishearten anyone, but to point out that even if the odds aren't in your favor, keep submitting your most beloved story. Someone wants to read it.

AP: There are a few colleagues and friends I can think of off the top of my head who definitely need to hear that, loudly and often. In the years of writing, submitting, and publishing, what are some of the barriers you've faced as a LatinX writer?

KYR: I mentioned previously I receive lots of rejections. While rejection is part and parcel of a writer's day-to-day, I've found that many of my stories addressing Latinx themes and settings more explicitly are the ones that truly achieve the big numbers. This can be due to myriad factors, including personal tastes of the editorial staff, the story not fitting into the publication's vision, and possibly lack of exposure to many viewpoints within a culture, especially non-assimilationist works (like my own How Juan Bobo Got to los Nueba Yores) or what I'll term Hispanopessism (demonstrated in my story, Vanishing). Not to sound like too much of a downer, but the current crunch all of publishing is feeling may end up exacerbating this issue as not only staff in the Big Five are being laid off, but the short fiction magazines have all felt the pressure. 

AP: You wrote a piece on your website in 2017 titled "Where is LatinX Fantasy and Science Fiction?" What have the last five years been like for you as a LatinX person writing in the SFFH world? How much of the publishing world, if any, has changed since then? What are some of the good things you've seen come to pass and where have things fallen flat?

KYR: I wrote that when I was starting to publish, to see where my people were in SFFH. I was new, but hadn't found many mainstream SFFH work that felt explicitly LatinX. So, instead of writing what I wanted to see in the genre I spent several years writing to blend in, because it was what was selling and getting published. Odd how that subtle pressure to assimilate, to tamp down what isn't popular works in communities, isn't it?

One of the better things that's happened in SFFH recently are the growing cries for more translated works, especially those from outside the anglophone world. I wouldn't have been able to read Agustina Bazterrica's Tender Is the Flesh or Mariana Enriquez's Things We Lost In the Fire, or see short fiction venues like Samovar, Clarkesworld, and - briefly - Constelación (RIP) consistently offer translated works. It demonstrates to me that there's an audience hungry for more translated work in general. What seems to me an area where genre has fallen flat is the over-reliance on stories needing to be cheerful and escapist. Given the realities of many working-class and marginalized communities (Latinx people included) trying to survive during an ongoing pandemic, denial of refugee status to Indigenous and Latinx people being detained in camps at the border, the threat of police violence, climate catastrophe, chemical spills and so on, I can't help but find it concerning that SFF is focusing on an optimism that feels very out of step with the present moment. So, I'll pose a counter to people who want their SFF to be escapist: escapist for whom?

AP: I think it could be said that there's been a slow surge in LatinX representation in popular media.  From Jenna Ortega's Wednesday Adams to Tenoch Huerta's Namor to Pedro Pascal's everything. However, there still still seems to be a dearth of that kind of representation in science fiction and fantasy. What do you think the path forward is for LatinX writers? What do you think can be done by us writers to keep putting ourselves out there?

KYR: These are all great examples, and it's heartening to see Diego Luna, Jenna Ortega, Tenoch Huerta, and Pedro Pascal in more roles, but I'll point out that if there aren't a wide variety of Latinx people in decision-making positions behind the scenes, in writing rooms and so on, we'll continue getting stories that have the same shapes we've seen before. We'll likely continue to have written fiction and multimedia that only serves as soft imperialism, entertainment made for affluent and white Latinx people, and not the wider whole of the rest of Latindad.

I won't presume to tell other Latinx writers what they should be doing, other than say: writing, getting published, and pushing for change are slow going. This is part marathon, part relay race where we must trust others to carry on the struggle - pace yourself accordingly.

AP: That's very poignant advice, thank you, Karlo. I sometimes feel too much despair when I think of this topic and struggle to remind myself of exactly what you just said, so hearing you say it (and in a more eloquent way than I put it), really helps me. With an eye toward the future, what are you currently working on?

KYR: I've been slowly working on a handful of stories that are either Puerto Rican folk horror, or Puerto Rican gothic - odd, shadowed stories with elements of older, not Disneyfied fairy tales and folklore. Stories that are eerie and disturbing, such as The Juniper Tree and The Girl With No Hands. I can almost feel the rejections piling up before they're even finished - not that those will stop me.

AP: They better not. That all sounds incredible. For a quick look into the past, what is a piece of advice you would have given to yourself at the beginning of your writing career?

KYR: I'd tell myself to not be afraid to let my personal weirdness and what Kelly Link calls "obsessions" drive what stories I should be writing, and not to second-guess those instincts. I spent several years in an online writing community that encouraged me to sand away any edges that made my writing a reflection of what I found meaningful or important or concerning.

AP: Hopefully that helps someone out there. Now, I always love asking this question of my guests: What's the best piece of media you've consumed in the last 12 months?

KYR: Probably Andor, followed closely by Severance if we're talking streaming; Ursula K. Le Guin prize-winner, The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber and The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez if we're talking books. Oh, let me not forget Naben Ruthnum's amazing horror novella, Helpmeet. Since I don't have time to play any videogames, I will absolutely not recommend Elden Ring or Hollow Knight or the surprisingly literary Disco Elysium.

AP: What an absolute power-house list, wow. I'm right there with you with Andor, especially, but will be checking out Helpmeet for sure. Where can people find you and your work? Do you have something coming out soon that my readers should be looking out for?

KYR: Apart from finding links to all my publicly available writing on my website,, I host Podside Picnic, a podcast focused on science fiction, fantasy, horror, and the literature of the fantastic. I'm also currently the non-fiction editor at Seize the Press Magazine.

AP:  Incredible. Thank you so, so much for agreeing to answer my questions. You dropped some absolute bangers for us here and I can't wait for people to read what you have to say.


Blog Excerpt:
I Mourn a Life I've Never Had
As I sit in my living room, computer on my lap, listening to Nas telling me that death is the cousin of sleep, I can’t help but drift off into my alternate life.

In this other life, I still smoke. I still drink. This version of me is awake at night and sleeps during the day. He takes walks around deserted Los Angeles streets, he watches the sun set on the Pacific, and he cruises around Mulholland at midnight with the windows open and the music up.

In this fantasy, I’m also a writer. I don’t mean a writer like I’m a writer now. And I’m not gate-keeping the term, either. If you write, you’re a writer. But in this other life, I’m a… writer.

Read the rest of the blog post here.
Horror Novella Excerpt:
(best if read while listening to Mica Levi - Lonely Void)
“My keys are in the bowl.”

No “Bye.” No “Sorry for fucking up your life.” Just six words as clinical as the last three-or-so years of our marriage were.  

I read the text again, in case I missed something, knowing I didn’t. Am I hoping to find something in between the lines? Am I hoping she'll send a follow up? Or am I just going through the cliched motions someone in my position is supposed to?

The tires thrum on the freeway paving, adding a backdrop to my philosophical musings as the needle on the speedometer moves closer to 100 than 70. I pull my foot off the gas and suck in a deep breath. The needle slides back down beneath 80 and my blood pressure regulates.

I’ll have to tell mom and dad soon. It’d be rude to wait till I am picking them up at LAX next week. I take a moment to imagine the traffic-ridden drive back to our apartment—now just my apartment—all while being hammered by equal parts suggestions, blame, and advice.

Then I imagine the phone call. It goes about the same, only I can make an excuse and hang up.

Traffic is slowing down ahead of me and I have to pump the brakes a little harder than I’d like, my eyes darting between the oncoming red lights and the cars zooming up from behind. Exactly the kind of driving that would have earned me a shocked breath and sideways look.

Not anymore.

I crawl forward with the rest of the traffic. There’s construction ahead. Three lanes becomes two. This whole stretch from Fontana to Redlands is ass, no matter when you leave, and a two hour and change trip turns into almost four.

It’s okay. I’m almost at the windmills. Once I’m there, it all opens up and I know I’m almost in the desert proper.

Another push notification and I hate the surge of adrenaline in my chest. Am I happy it’s Matty? Or disappointed it—never mind.

“Just got here. Place is sick. ETA?”

I share my location with him and settle in for the last leg of the trip.

(Puerto Rican Plantain "Lasagna")

From the linked recipe: Pastelon is the quintessential homemade dish, and it mixes the sweetness of fried ripe maduro with the cooked meat and sofrito, which is traditional in Puerto Rican kitchens.
You all know I love sharing my own recipes here, but Karlo introduced me to a completely new dish and was generous enough to provide a link to a recipe. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel, I've linked it below. I'll be trying my hand at this recipe sometime soon and posting the results to my IG stories, as per usual. If you try it, do the same!

Recipe link: here.
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