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Author Interview: Riya Anne Polcastro

Riya Anne Polcastro is the author of numerous books including Jane, Dentata, and the forthcoming Spanglish young adult novel Popcorn 4 Dinner, Traff’kd @ Midnight (Palomitas Para Cena, Traficado en la Madrugada). She lives in the Pacific NorthWest where she enjoys taking photographs of dead things.


1. Use three to five words to describe yourself.

adventurous, morbid, sarcastic

2. Can you give us a little background on your upcoming/existing/recently release book/series?

My current work in progress is called Popcorn 4 Dinner: Traff’kd @ Midnight (Palomitas Para Cena: Traficado en la Madrugada). It is being released by the chapter through my newsletter on Substack, along with articles explaining the inspiration, use of language, and issues related to immigration and religion. This novel was inspired by the childhood demons that got woken up during the Trump presidency and ensuing culture wars that evangelical Christians have been waging against the rest of the world.
Sing ups are at popcorn4dinner.substack.com/about .

3. Can you give us any insight into your planning and writing process?

I am not much of a planner, which makes for messy writing. A lot of putting things back together and checking for plot holes. I envy people that can outline and stick to it.

4. Silence or music or other when writing/editing?

Either/or, both, it depends. Pure silence is rare with kids in the house though.

5. Based on your experience, can you offer a piece of advice to budding authors?

I am currently accepting advice haha. But I’ll let you know when I have some worth sharing.

6. You can erase one book or series from your mind entirely so that you can read it again for the first time, which do you erase?

Maybe I would erase Life of Pi once, but then can I have all the other times I read it back after that? Because each reading seems to bring a new layer out or something that I have missed.

7. Who are some of your favourite authors/books?

Jesmyn Ward’s ‘Bois Sauvage’ trilogy (especially ‘Sing Unburied, Sing’), ‘Paradise’, ‘Sula’, and ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison, ‘Caramelo’ by Sandra Cisneros, ‘Adjustment Day’, ‘Invisible Monsters’, ‘Haunted’, and ‘Fight Club’ by Chuck Palahniuk, ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel, and ‘Anna Karenina’ by Leo Tolstoy, ‘The Devil All the Time’ by Donald Ray Pollock

8. Who are your favourite book characters?

Sherry in ‘Nowhere is a Place’, Anna in ‘Anna Karenina’, Julia in ‘I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter’, Flynn in ‘Supermarket’, Christophe in ‘Where the Line Bleeds’

9. Do you have any favourite magic systems?

No sorry.

10. You can bring one world from a book or series to life and live there, which world do you choose?

I read pretty dark, heavy stuff so that is kind of hard to answer. Maybe the convent at the beginning of ‘Paradise’ but without the whole getting slaughtered and everything going off the rails there at the end.

11. What book or series would you love to see on the big screen?

Can I say mine? Because I think Suicide in Tiny Increments would make a hilarious tragic comedy on the big screen. Honestly though, if it could be done properly, Jesmyn Ward’s ‘Bois Sauvage Trilogy’. So much is lost with turning books into movies though, maybe not.

12. You can collaborate with one other author, who do you choose?

Donald Ray Pollock. Together we would create something visceral and disturbing enough to make readers literally throw up. (It’s a literary goal of mine, what can I say?) I have the perfect concept too. An unpublished short story I wrote titled ‘Cornelius Cornelius’ featuring a jealous husband whose first name is also his last name, a wife who’s cheating with her cousin, human taxidermy, and a murder spree that wasn’t.

13. Have any cultures/civilisations inspired your writing?

Spanish is actually the first language that I learned to read and write so, in keeping with the subject matter and the character of Popcorn 4 Dinner the first draft was written in Spanglish. This proved to be a little too daunting for beta readers who were monolingual English-speakers and I didn’t want to eliminate that audience, I still wanted the book to be accessible to them but without losing Julio’s voice. So in the last draft I have dialed it down from maybe a 60/40 English/Spanish split to just Spanish dialogue with a sprinkling of Spanish in the prose. To me Spanish is a language with so much more life and rhythm so the words that stayed are ones where I feel like the English equivalent fell flat.

14. What is your favourite mythical creature?

A pegasus. I was forbidden to play with them as a child because of religion but if horses were cool, what could be cooler than a horse with wings?!

15. What is your favourite mythical race?

I don’t read enough fantasy or sci-fi to answer this sorry.

16. You can have one superpower, what is it?

Teleportation. I really like to travel and skipping the whole transportation and customs part of that would be dope.

17. You have the ability to morph into any real creature. Which creature do you choose?

A crow. They can fly and they are super smart and tricky.

18. You can go back in time and live a different period of history, when do you choose

I’d really rather fast forward to this utopian future where climate change has been fixed, humans have found the perfect balance between technology and the natural world, society is organized around meeting the needs of the many instead of the selfish desires of the few, and racism, misogyny, homo/transphobia, and hate in general are non-existent, and social classes have been eliminated.

19. You can meet any five people in the world, who would you choose?

Assuming some of them can be dead? Tupac Shakur, Che Guevara, Toni Morrison, Chuck Palahniuk, and Zack de la Rocha

20. Would you rather:

  • ride a dragon or fly a spaceship?
    • Fly a spaceship.
  • have the ability to fly or be indestructible?
    • Fly.
  • be an elf or an orc?
    • Elf.
  • have the ability to travel to mythical worlds, from your favourite books, or the ability to travel faster than light and visit planets and solar systems in this world?
    • Travel faster than light. But I will also need to ability to survive any atmosphere right?
    • face one orc or three goblins in battle?
  • One orc. They’re slow right?
  • be an expert swordsman or archer?
    • Swordsman.
  • be able to wield elemental magic or raise and control the dead?
    • I’m gonna go with the dead, why not?
  • live in a city under the ocean or one floating in the clouds?
    • Clouds.
  • be able to see the past or see the future?
    • Future.