Interview with Valentina Cano

“The Gothic darkness is just in my blood”


Coffin Bell: Introduce yourself / short bio / photo.

Valentina Cano: My name is Valentina Cano and I am originally from Uruguay. I am a writer, a trained classical singer, and a textile artist, specializing in embroidery and weaving. My home is filled with animals, from snakes to birds, and I would have more if I could.

CB: What got you started writing?

VC: I’ve always loved reading, but didn’t get into writing until 2008, when I went through a major depressive episode and realized that writing was what could keep all of that darkness back, at least for a bit. I started with poetry but have gone on to write short stories and novels.

CB: What is the most rewarding aspect of writing?

VC: One of the things I enjoy most about writing is when I read back a scene or poem and don’t quite remember how I wrote it. Especially in fiction. Action scenes always terrify me because pacing is so important, so when I read it back and realize that the pacing is right and that it is coherent, I’m always a bit surprised and giddy.

CB: Do you have a designated space for writing? Tell us about it.

VC: My requirements for a workspace are light, silence, and to have my birds around me. Other than that, I’m not very picky. I wrote my latest manuscript on my bedroom dresser because the rest of my house is getting renovated, so apparently I don’t even need a desk!

CB: Are you a planner or a pantser? Tell us a bit about your writing practices.

VC: It depends. For poetry and short stories, I tend to be a pantser, but for novels, I have to plan everything. I have entire notebooks filled with structured scenes that I continually add to as I write a novel and, when I stop for the day, I always ensure I know exactly what I’ll be writing the following day.

CB: What advice to new and emerging writers could you give?

VC: The most general advice is to read widely and write every day. Even if it’s just for ten minutes. Something else that is vital when making your first attempts at traditional publication is to realize that you are not the exception to the rule. Any rule. I’ve seen lots of beginning writers who have manuscripts that are obviously too long or too short but they think that agents and publishers will make exceptions for them because they have in the past for other famous writers. They won’t. Follow the rules. There’s a lot of competition so don’t make it more difficult for yourself.

CB: Who are your influences?

VC: Gothic novelists have always been my inspiration and influences. From the Brontes to Sarah Waters. In poetry, I’m always in awe of the way Margaret Atwood creates these paintings with words.

CB: Physical books or e-readers?

VC: Physical books.

CB: If you could give a PSA to journal editors, what would it be?

VC: My one request is that they ensure their submission requirements are standard. It is incredibly frustrating when submitting to different publications to see that every editor wants something different, from font to type of document, to the way the document is labeled.

CB: Taphophobia is the fear of being buried alive. Tell us about your fears.

VC: To be separated from those I love, in any way.

CB: What draws you to dark fiction?

VC: I was raised on a daily diet of it. At eight years old, I’d read all of Poe’s stories, so the Gothic darkness is just in my blood. I’ve had to modify it for the genres in which I write, but I can’t think of writing without that darkness. Of course, I’m sure that my continuous struggles with anxiety and depression have also left their dents in my mind, making it much easier for darker works to ring truer.

CB: How does the darkness in your piece enhance the work?

VC: The darkness comes from the imagery, with what I hope is a visual impact as you read. The pieces themselves stand for thoughts that are not exactly sun-drenched, so I took what propelled me to write them and covered the page with it.

CB: Tell us about your book / publication / web site / promotion.

VC: My latest novel is the sequel to my Gothic young adult fantasy, THE ROSE MASTER, published by REUTS Publications. It’s a loose variation on Beauty and the Beast with a dash of Jane Eyre. I’m prolific on twitter (@valca85) and you can also find me on Instagram (@valca85).


Read Valentina Cano’s “Promise to Not-Quite-There Friends” and “De-Composition” in issue 1.2 of Coffin Bell!