Hey there readers and Córdova fans! You are in for a treat today. Today we’re interviewing Zoraida Córdova, bestselling author of the Brooklyn Brujas series and the Hollow Crown series. This has been a great opportunity and as a huge fan of her Brooklyn Brujas series, I would like to thank Ms. Córdova once again for agreeing to do this.
Cyn’s Workshop: I know you have probably been asked this a lot but what first inspired the Brooklyn Brujas series?
Zoraida Córdova: I grew up loving supernatural stories about witches, vampires, and other beings that go bump in the night. But there were never witches that imagined magic from Latin America, only Latin American characters who used “pagan and Wicca” as their source of magic, which never felt right to me. When you don’t find the novel that you want to read, I think you have to write your own. That’s what I did.
CW: The story for the Mortiz girls is pretty much over, but what about Nova? Any chance readers will be gifted a short novella in the future?
ZC: I have a book for Nova, but the third book in the Brooklyn Brujas series will be the final book for now. There is a bruja related short story about Nova’s family in the upcoming WNDB fantasy anthology – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43716169-fantastic-worlds
CW: Your third novel, Wayward Witch, follows Rose Mortiz as she enters the fairy realm. Was this how you always intended to end the journey for the Mortiz girls?
ZC: Yes. I’ve always wanted to tell my own version of fairy. This one takes place in the middle of the Caribbean and was created by the gods of Labyrinth Lost. We met some of those adas in the Meadow del Sol and I wanted to expand that storyline, which is why I had Rose constantly reading her book of Adas.
CW: You go deep into the fairy realm in Wayward Witch, and there are a diverse group of characters here as well. Did you draw inspiration from any known fairy tales?
ZC: I didn’t. I wanted to create my own version of fairy. All of it ties to the chapter openers (the epigraphs) in each book. I gave my brujas their own mythology.
CW: You do something very thoughtful in the novel by creating the term Brujex. What inspired that?
ZC: I was at a book festival a while ago and someone asked me what they could call themselves in my Brooklyn Brujas world. They were nonbinary and I realized that I had failed them because Spanish is a gendered language. If I use the term Latinx, then I should be able to adapt to something for characters in the Brooklyn Brujas world who don’t identify with a heteronormative binary. So the term BRUJEX came about and it’s pronounced BREW-HEX.
CW: Your new novel Incendiary just came out, what inspired it?
ZC: When I was brought on to this project, I was instantly drawn by the idea of a magical group of people struggling for survival. I’ve often thought about Incendiary as a sort of Star Wars set in a fantasy landscape. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve written for Star Wars or because it’s so embedded into my subconscious. But it’s all there: A group of rebels fighting against a ruthless ruler? An agent of that leader who is tasked with destroying these rebels, but could actually be turned? Of course, the setting is inspired by historic Spain. Reading about that time period was very frustrating and painful at times because there are some things in the texts, like Daily Life in Spain in the Golden Age by Marcelin Defourneaux that made it clear how cyclical hate is. That alone felt very timely.
CW: Okay, let’s talk about these covers. Do you have any input in the cover design? Labyrinth Lost has three cover designs and Incendiary has two? Do you have any favorites?
ZC: I didn’t have any input with the Labyrinth Lost designs, but my favorite is the third edition that’s yellow and purple. I love the symbolism and that it looks like an old magical tome. For Incendiary, the reason there are two is because they are different publishers. One is the US and the other the UK. Sometimes, publishers keep the cover the same as the US one, but it depends on their market. I can’t choose between them because I love them so much!
CW: What was it like to write the Brooklyn Brujas series versus Incendiary? They’re both so different so I can only guess the writing experience was different.
ZC: When I write I use the same process. I build the world from the ground up. I think about where everything comes from. I do my best to think about language. I outline the same way, for the most part, using different outlining sheets. I use the Hero’s Journey (modified to my own liking) and the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. The biggest difference is that the Brooklyn Brujas series is urban fantasy and takes place in our world so I can use more colloquial language.
CW: Life has been tough for everyone during this quarantine, how have you been coping with it? I’ve personally been catching up on my TBR pile and spending time with my son.
ZC: It’s been hard personally and professionally, but I have to keep working. There are still deadlines and I have to look to the future because I do write full time. I am reading more, which is fantastic. I’ve been doing audiobooks, though.
CW: Do you think you will ever write a novel about a pandemic? You came close with Bruja Born in a way.
ZC: The closest I will ever get is a zombie story, but zombies serve many different purposes.
CW: Okay, last question: what has been the best book you’ve read so far this year?
ZC: Jade City by Fonda Lee