Inkshares writer, Ricardo Henriquez, speaks about his recently published horror fantasy debut
So many new writers are seeing their dreams come true as Inkshares, the crowdfunding online publisher, is publishing debut after debut. The end of 2016 proves to be an exciting time for these new Inkshares writers and Ricardo Henriquez is among these writers with his horror fantasy debut The Catcher’s Trap having just been released this past November. Born in Tocopilla, a small mining and fishing town in Northern Chile, Henriquez was the first in his family to go to college and received his degree in Journalism. “I always wanted to be a writer, but when you grow up poor, writer sounds like, ‘you’re not going to make any money and we need you to make money so you don’t live like us.’ So the compromise was to become a journalist because you get to write, but you also get a job that pays the bills. So I became a journalist and I really liked it,” Henriquez said.
For six years, Henriquez wrote about politics for a newspaper. He loved the fast-paced work environment and the adrenaline from such a work ethic. He was even stationed at the La Moneda Palace, the equivalent to the White House in Chile, where he worked for two and a half years with two Presidents. “I had a really great life in Chile until 1999, but desecration for LGBT people in Chile was not good. It was actually really, really bad. I was openly gay and because of that, my boss was always saying that my name was on a black list and I could get fired anytime just because I was gay,” Henriquez said. “I was a really good journalist, I wasn’t slacking and living with that dread that you could get fired at any moment and never get a job again just because of who you are was too much to deal with.”
“So I sold everything I had and I moved to the U.S. fifteen years ago and it was a totally different story here,” Henriquez said. “I came here and I struggled a lot at the beginning. My degree was not useful in any way and I worked as a waiter for the first three years and I lived in poverty. Eventually, I learned the language, I put myself through college, and I got a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management because I really wanted to make a difference.” Through his early struggles in the States, Henriquez saw a lot of abuse and other happenings from work and from the places he lived. It was because of what he saw that he went into Nonprofit Management. Because he was and still is a people’s person, he started out as a Community Organizer because he loved being around others. Now, he works as a Senior Manager at United Way, but still oversees anti-poverty programs. He also married his husband in 2011 and they live comfortably with their little Schnauzer, Penny Lane.
The Catcher’s Trap is not only Henriquez’s debut, but also the first in his trilogy of the same name he plans to complete. The story is about Andres, a young man who suffers from depression and anxiety. After choosing to follow an intriguing stranger, he finds himself in an otherworldly dimension where he must fight for his life to survive the demons, the darkness, and the suffering The Mist has to offer. The main inspiration for this hauntingly beautiful tale came to Henriquez roughly about five years ago. “I went through a really deep depression. It was a really, really dark time. This is why the Catcher was born because it is hard for me to put it in words: how it felt, what it was, the guilt I felt,” Henriquez said. “[Since] it was so hard to put it in words, I decided I was going to turn it into a book. And, because I’m a nerd and I love horror and fantasy, I decided it had to be a horror fantasy book. So I created the world of The Mist which is a physical manifestation of all the feelings that I had. It represents oppression and violence and darkness and, at the same time, the beauty underneath. After the first draft was done, it took a mind of its own.”
Henriquez stays true to the horror aspect of his story as, for some scenes, readers may find themselves physically looking away from the pages to shield their eyes from the gruesome words. It was difficult for Henriquez to get into his main villain’s head because his villain is a psychopath. It was a difficult task, but Henriquez had to question: what was the worst thing he could do to someone if he wanted to kill their soul? To kill any hope and to destroy them completely? “The level of cruelty in this world had to be stated. It had to be stated that this world was a horrible, horrible place,” Henriquez said.
No matter how dark a world can become, a light will always find its way into it. That is where Henriquez’s favorite character, Claudia, comes into play. “I love Claudia. Writing her was hard for a completely different reason and not even because she’s a female; it’s because she’s so different from who I am,” Henriquez said. “Her personality is so opposite to who I am: she’s so hopeful and strong. She’s strong on the inside and outside, but a nurturing person at the same time and I love her. Just to stay honest to her, I really wanted to keep her steady and consistent and every time I wrote one of her lines or an action she was going to take, I took my time and [asked], ‘Would she do this: yes or no?’”
Though Henriquez began writing The Catcher’s Trap a few years ago, he wrote it with no intentions of publishing it. “I was actually quite embarrassed about writing it because I was like, ‘How dare I write a book in English. It’s not even my first language.’ But I wanted to write it and I wanted to write it in English, so I did. Finally, at some point, I was like, ‘I have to show it to someone,’” Henriquez said. He showed his first manuscript to his editor friend, Koleen, and his journalist friend, Julie. Koleen told him his story was really good and Julie encouraged him to enter his story into The Nerdist Collection Contest Inkshares was holding at the time. “I had never heard of Inkshares before, I had no idea what it was, and I jumped into the contest without knowing what I was doing. I had never crowdfunded before. It was all new and crazy, but it was a fantastic, random decision made thanks to my friend Julie,” Henriquez said.
The top five winners of the contest were published and were eligible to be picked up by Nerdist… Henriquez came in sixth place. While he may not have been one of the winners of the contest, he said that Inkshares was still amazing: they reached out to him and encouraged him to continue his campaign for they really wanted to publish his story. After that, the close-knit community of Inkshares writers started offering their support to Henriquez. He even submitted another work, Bad Medicine: Slay It Queen!, to The Crypt TV Collection Contest and was one of the three winners.
Henriquez always imagined his The Catcher’s Trap series as a trilogy and sketched out his story from beginning to end so that it would be told a certain way. The first book had to be about strains and survival; the second about discovery and exploration; the third about rage and enduring. Henriquez wished to tell his trilogy as such for he endured all of these struggles and emotions himself. “Because I lived through that and I lived through a dictatorship and I lived in poverty, I know that in miserable situations, you’re not always miserable. I know that there’s still laughter. There’s still jokes. There’s still a little bit of hope because, at the end, we never lose hope and I wanted that to be in [my book],” Henriquez said. “The characters in the book are living in the worst situation that you can imagine yourself in, but that doesn’t take humanity out of you and what makes us humans is the capacity to have other emotions.”
With its recent release, Henriquez hopes to reach out to two audiences with The Catcher’s Trap. He hopes to reach out to fantasy and horror fans for he believes his book is a mix of both genres and it can be difficult to get into the horror community. He also really hopes to reach out to the LGBT community, for there are many great horror and fantasy writers in that community and not enough of them have been recognized. Henriquez encourages any aspiring writer to not make excuses and, if they have a story they wish to write, just write it. “Don’t make any excuses. Don’t say you don’t have the time. Make the time. I got up at five in the morning every single day to write this book. Every single day, I got up at five in the morning so I would have an hour and a half to write. Some days, I wrote 2,000 words. Some days, I wrote three. And it’s fine to have a day where you write three words. The important thing is that you’re writing and you’re not making excuses,” Henriquez said. Henriquez has established an excellent writing method that works for him and it will most certainly help him as he continues to write the next book in his trilogy. And just recently, the second book of The Catcher’s Trap series, Worlds Walker, has become available for pre-order. Any readers who are curious can follow and support Henriquez on Inkshares throughout his next book’s campaign.