Lyn Di Iorio grew up in Puerto Rico and came to the Mainland to attend Harvard University. She teaches literature and creative writing at The City College of New York and The Graduate Center of the CIty University of New York. She is the author of scholarly books of Latino literature; this is her first novel, an excerpt of which won an honorable mention in the 2009 New Millenium Writings Awards Competition.
What is your genre and your intended audience?
I don’t have a specific “genre.” I generally think of myself as a writer of literary fiction. That said, however, some reviewers of OUTSIDE THE BONES surprised me by calling it a “mystery.” It does have a mystery at its heart, but I don’t think it is exclusively a mystery story.
What are you currently writing?
I may be about to contradict what I said above-hah! I am working on a book that is definitely in the suspense mode. The working title is THE SOUND OF FALLING DARKNESS and the protagonist is a criminal.
When do you make time to write?
Since I am also a college professor, I try to take advantage of the summer and winter vacations as well as spring break. It’s hard for me to get much writing done in the course of the semester, but sometimes I will try to do a little on my non-teaching days.
What would you have done differently in your writing life? If anything at all?
I think I would have let my first agent finish submitting my novel as she had intended. I got cold feet in the midst of the submission process—which can be very grueling—and withdrew the novel from submission.
What inspired you to become a writer?
For one, reading so many great writers. As a child I loved classic works such as the novels of Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling and so many other writers from all over the world, but I also loved mysteries by Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Dick Francis, and others. When I was a teenager I started reading work by Puerto Rican and Caribbean women writers such as Ana Lydia Vega, Rosario Ferré, and Jean Rhys, which really woke up my eyes to the magical and mysterious world that is the Caribbean. I was also always really fascinated by the fact that the Afro-Caribbean religions were regarded with fear by most of the people I knew growing up. Or, on the other hand, people negated their existence altogether. But the more I discovered about them, the more they fascinated me. I think, in general and this applies beyond my interest in Afro-Caribbean religio-magical practices, I am really intrigued by surfaces that seem commonplace with little cracks or flaws, and the more you explore the cracks the more you see that the apparently commonplace surfaces are just facades behind which lie completely different realities.
Tell us about your marketing strategy.
I created a website for my book Outsidethebones.com and when we launched the novel at Barnes and Noble in NYC, I did hire somebody on my own—outside of my publisher’s efforts—to do a massive blast about the event by email and through social media.
Does your spiritual or political life influence your writing? If so, how?
My spiritual life very much does, and in a general way so does my political life. Regarding the former, I’ve always been interested in spiritual practices that allow for contact with the other world in the here and now. So, for example, my deep appreciation for the way the gods/spirits are conceived of in Afro-Caribbean religious practices such as Santería and Palo Monte led me to create two protagonists in OUTSIDE THE BONES that are very much connected to the spiritual beliefs of those practices. In my current book, my interest in Christian mystics, such as St. Theresa of Avila, is playing an important role.
What would you like to see in your literary community?
I’d like to see more active publishing of Latino/a writers, and more of an interest in the variety of Latino/a experience on the part of publishers.
-If you haven’t read Outside the Bones, I encourage you to carve some time out and have one of your best reading experiences yet!- Theresa