AUSTIN, Texas - Like many industries, there’s a huge gap in diversity in publishing with only 6% of the industry identifying as Hispanic, but the numbers didn’t stop Austin author, Gabino Iglesias.
His newest book, The Devil Takes You Home, is a horror novel touching on topics like racism and the healthcare system. It was written during the pandemic and just after Iglesias lost his job as a teacher.
His casita, family home, sits in East Austin in the popular Mueller neighborhood. With not enough space for a library, Iglesias made sacrifices to make space for his passion.
"I kicked the car out and I built this space," Iglesias says as he walks into his two-car garage. "These are ones that I’ve been in."
Shelves of books line the walls where most people hang bikes or lawn equipment.
Iglesias says his journey to becoming a full-time author wasn’t easy, he faced many rejections before his recent success with The Devil Takes You Home.
"It was a selection for book-of-the-month club, selection for Apple book of the month, it’s an editors pick at Amazon, New York Times did a profile which was great, talking about my journey as a writer and my journey in Austin, which is where everything really started. I did not write in English until I moved here in 2008," Iglesias says.
But the Puerto Rican native didn’t abandon his native tongue.
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"Every single one of my books contains, un poquito de Español, and a little bit of English because, you know, así es como nosotros lo hacemos, so you can’t leave that behind and not a lot of people are fans of that they kind of hate the mix because it makes them a little bit uncomfortable even though it’s the second largest language in the world!" Iglesias says, describing the interchangeable writing style he puts into his books. "[My] answer to [the complaints] is thank you for checking out the book and this is the United States of America so it’s about time you learn a little bit of Spanish."
Iglesias is unapologetically himself, despite the urges to change his authenticity.
"Someone told me that’s a really complicated name, Gabino Iglesias, is a really complicated name." Iglesias remembers early on in his career as an author. "[They said] for the purposes of your writing, you should consider adopting a name with less vowels."
But his recent success proves there's no need to change who he is.
"I’ve been talking about otherness about cultural differences about ideological and psychological and language barriers and borders and all of that anger all of that grief goes into every single one of my books especially [The Devil Takes You Home] because I was very scared and very angry, so it is not a middle grade book, it is not for children, it’s hard to stomach," Iglesias says.
Its real-life topics, written in the midst of a pandemic and global racial reckoning.
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"In my case with some of the racism and the anger at the healthcare system and all that stuff, [writing] it was therapy for me," Iglesias says. He remembers the pandemic lockdowns and the emotions that came as he got through with his wife and young son.
"I sit here and I work through all of my emotions, past and the present, and then I’m lighter and I’m happier and you know I can go about my day in a much better mood," Iglesias says.
Igelsias’ book, The Devil Takes You Home, received seven offers from publishers and was sold at auction.
The cover is on a billboard in New York City and Sony Pictures has optioned the novel to work on a movie, headed up by Cuban Filmmaker Alejandro Brugués.
Iglesias is currently working on his next book and touring for The Devil Takes You Home.