#BlogTour • LUCHADOR by Erin Finnegan incl. Guest Post + Giveaway
Please help me welcome Erin Finnegan, author of Luchador, which was just named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2016, to MM Book Escape. Congratulations, Erin, and thank you for the interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Thanks for having me! It’s a relief (and kind of exciting) to finally be talking at length about Luchador, since I first started working on it three years ago! I’m really honored by the announcement from PW, and I’m still trying to form words, other than to say that I’m incredibly grateful.
Luchador is my second book. My debut, Sotto Voce, is also set in a world that I have a lot of love for—the independent winemakers of Sonoma County. I’m a winemaker myself, and I am a big fan of the somewhat smaller and mellower half of Northern California’s wine country.
Luchador is, no surprise, set in the world of lucha libre, or Mexican masked wrestling. But don’t be put off by the sweat, blood and Gatorade. Luchador is really a coming of age story of a young man who is looking to chart his own course in a world with set rules. There’s also Lycra.
1) What genres do you enjoy writing in?
I write contemporary, because the realism of it connects with me. I really admire science fiction and fantasy writers, who have to develop these complex worlds and landscapes. I don’t think I could handle it! Is it cheating that I like to visit a place, and then describe it? It feels like it after I read something like Charlotte Ashe’s The Sidhe!
I would really like to try my hand at a 20th century historical sometime. I’ve been craving a good book set in—don’t laugh— the disco era. And if I can’t find it, maybe I should write it.
2) What was the hardest part about writing this book?
This may sound a little weak, but the hardest part was just finding the time, as much as anything, though there was some pretty detailed research involved. Just when I thought I had lucha libre down, I’d get doubts about it and start reading, watching, and buying tickets to matches all over again. There’s a lot more going on in the ring than you might guess!
3) What did you enjoy most about writing your book?
I loved learning about lucha libre, about its history and connections to Mexican culture and even political movements. It’s a fascinating world, and one that Luchador really only scratches the surface of. I’ve come to love this performance sport, and truly admire the luchadores. The bouts may be scripted, but there’s nothing phony about those take-downs.
In the early stages of writing Luchador, I visited Mexico City specifically to experience lucha libre matches at Arena Coliseo and Arena México, the original and modern homes of lucha libre and many of the lucha broadcasts you see in the United States. Being in Mexico for these bouts gave me an entirely different perspective on lucha that carried over to the book, and caused me to rethink early plot points. I’m so glad I did it, and I hope to return sometime very soon.
4) What cultural value do you see in writing?
Writers are often on the cutting edge of change, and we’re seeing that a lot right now, for example, through the efforts of organizations like We Need Diverse Books. And while portions of the romance genre have been slow to reflect the diverse worlds in which they are set (I am, sadly, looking at you, sports romances), we’re seeing a strong push for representation in romantic fiction that is positive and healthy—and overdue.
5) What is your favorite positive saying?
I suspect this isn’t what you had in mind, but I’m going with “It’s five o’clock somewhere” because good lord, yes.
NOVEMBER 3, 2016
Each week, Gabriel Romero’s drive to Sunday mass takes him past “El Ángel,” the golden statue at the heart of Mexico City that haunts his memories and inspires his future. Spurred by the memory of his parents, Gabriel is drawn to the secretive world of lucha libre, where wrestling, performance art and big business collide.
Under the conflicting mentorships of one of lucha libre’s famed gay exótico wrestlers and an ambitious young luchador whose star is on the rise, Gabriel must choose between traditions which ground him but may limit his future, and the lure of sex and success that may compromise his independence. Surrounded by a makeshift family of wrestlers, Gabriel charts a course to balance ambition, sexuality and loyalty to find the future that may have been destined for him since childhood.
“You’re going to wrestle with us?”
“I’d like to,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel turned his beer bottle clockwise, picked at the moist label, and then spun it counter-clockwise.
“Something’s on your mind,” Miguel said. Gabriel’s focus stayed fixed on the bottle.
Turn, pick, spin. Repeat.
“Look at me,” Miguel said. “Spit it out.”
Gabriel stopped, tapped his fingers on the table, and finally looked up, meeting Miguel’s eye. “Are you going to make me an exótico?”
“Are you going to make me be an exótico?” he repeated with more force.
“I can’t make you anything,” Miguel said.
“I heard I would be an exótico, that I don’t have a choice.”
“Who told you that?” Miguel asked. Gabriel glanced to the end of the bar, and Miguel’s gaze followed. “Gabriel, look at me. You’re a rookie. You’re just starting out. And I don’t represent the leagues. As far as I’m concerned, you can be whatever you want. But the future? I can’t predict that. You become a league wrestler, and they’ll have a say in the character they want you to play.”
Gabriel looked down, grim and silent, poking at his cuticles. Miguel wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know.
“You have choices, you know,” Miguel added. He narrowed the gap between them to be heard over the din of the bar, as if sharing a secret. “You don’t have to join a league.”
“But then, I’ll never get to the top,” Gabriel said, not bothering to look up.
“Does that really matter?”
Miguel dipped his head, forcing Gabriel to make eye contact. He didn’t move until Gabriel acknowledged him, albeit with a grunt.
“I told you, you have choices to make. You’re a good wrestler. You could become a great luchador. But success? Only you can decide what that means to you. Is it money? Television? Fame? Then you become a league luchador and you play by their rules.”
“And an exótico?”
“Maybe,” Miguel said. “Or is success something else, Gabriel? Is it being the luchador that you want to be? Not letting an empresa decide that for you? Then maybe you stay independent.”
Gabriel measured the words, sometimes acknowledging with the slightest of unconscious head bobs, occasionally glancing over to where Arturo stood at the bar.
That didn’t go unnoticed.
“No one can make these choices for you. Not me, not anyone else.”
Somehow, Miguel knew, and acknowledged it without the judgment Gabriel expected. “Whatever you decide, understand that at some point, you’re going to have to sacrifice for it.”
“I don’t understand.”
Miguel leaned back in his chair and looked at the ceiling, as if the dim bulbs and acoustic tiles held the answer to life’s great mysteries. “You will.”
About the Author
Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and winemaker who lives in the foothills outside Los Angeles. A lifelong sports fan and occasional sports writer, she has had to dive out of the way of flying luchadores at matches in both the U.S. and Mexico. Her first novel, Sotto Voce, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and a Foreword Reviews Indiefab Silver Book of the Year Award.
Luchador will be published by Interlude Press on November 3, 2016. Connect with author Erin Finnegan at Erin-Finnegan.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/ErinGoFinnegan and on Twitter at @eringofinnegan.
Grand Prize $25 IP Gift Card + Multi-format eBook of Luchador // Five winners receive Luchador eBook
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