Natalia Sylvester is a Peru native, the author of Chasing the Sun, and, of course, an avid reader! In a recent interview with She Reads, she let us know all the bookish things she adores. From what inspired her newest novel, Everyone Knows You Go Home, to her love affair with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Natalia tells all in this article about what she reads.
What inspired you to write Everyone Knows You Go Home?
My husband and I were married on November 1, and so often, when people learned this, they would comment on how interesting it was that we were married on the Day of the Dead (which is November 1 and 2). Dia de los Muertos is a celebration in which the spirit of your loved ones spend the day with you, so it made me wonder, what if the spirit of a loved one had visited on our wedding day? And not just on our wedding day, but every anniversary that follows? So that “what if” became the initial spark, but I sat with it for months, wondering what that story would really be about. Omar’s character came to me first – he tries to visit his family from the afterlife on the day of his son Martin’s wedding, but because he abandoned them years ago, the only person who will talk to him is his son’s wife, Isabel. The more I wrote, the more I realized the story was about the in-between spaces Omar feels trapped in. And that spoke to me so much, as an immigrant who’s often felt this, and who’s often seen my family and friends experience this too. So the story became a way for me to explore physical and spiritual spaces, and the idea of boundaries that are invisible but very much felt in our everyday lives.
What is currently on your #TBR pile?
Oh goodness! There are so many. I’m reading Julayne Lee’s debut poetry collection called Not My White Savior, as well as Naima Coster’s debut novel Halsey Street. I also recently got a copy of Natalie J. Graham’s poetry collection, Begin With a Failed Body, and Kirstin Chen’s new novel, Bury What We Cannot Take, both of which I can’t wait to start reading. Two more on my nightstand are Bang by Daniel Peña, and Element 615, a collection of poems by Joe Brundidge, who’s a local poet here in Austin. More often than not, I’m usually reading a combination of poetry and fiction.
Which authors do you admire?
Two authors I really admire not just for their published work, but also for the honesty with which they share of themselves are Porochista Khakpour and ire’ne lara silva. Porochista talks so openly of her experiences as a writer and teacher, as a woman of color, as an Iranian-American, and as someone dealing daily with chronic illness. I don’t believe any of us owe anyone our stories, but I do admire those who share them because it is an act of strength and bravery (and often, of survival), and those of us listening can learn and grow so much from it. I think Porochista’s voice is one that helps us learn how to become better humans, and I feel the same way about ire’ne. Her posts on Facebook are more like essays, meditations on creating and caretaking and what it means to endure a life of pain and joy, and what it means to survive.
What books would your readers be surprised to know you love?
I love the Buffy the Vampire Slayer graphic novels. Season 8 is the title of the first one, because the books begin where the final, seventh season of the TV show left off. So far, I’ve only read Season 8 and 9, but I really can’t wait to get back to the series and start on Season 10 and all the different books released in between; I think they have whole books dedicated to the storylines of Angel and Faith, Spike and Willow.
You’re going on a month-long vacation, which books do you bring along with you?
Aside from all the books already on my TBR pile, I’d bring Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, which I’ve been meaning to re-read because it left such an impression when I first read it in high school. I think there are books that speak to you in different ways at different times in your life, and I suspect this is one of them.