We love any opportunity to get to know our favorite authors better. So a lightning round of questions sounds like a good place to start. Here, we ask five quick questions (with one wildcard) about books, genres, reading preferences, writing style, and their secret to success.
BookTok’s been buzzing about Argentinian author Agustina Bazterrica. She made waves with her horror novel, Tender Is the Flesh, a masterfully unsettling story about how people turn to cannibalism after a mysterious virus renders meat poisonous to humans. Now Bazterrica is back with Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird, a haunting short story collection that moves from dark comedy to body horror to thrilling fantasy. Beautifully creepy, her twisted, macabre, and strikingly imaginative stories dissect death, desire, and other painful human experiences.
Here, Bazterrica shares what she listens to for inspiration, what success means to her, and why she dedicated her latest collection to her grandmother.
1. What are your all-time favorite books?
- The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector
- Selected Poems by Charles Simic
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
- The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
- Glosa by Juan José Saer
- As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
- Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- The Lover by Marguerite Duras
And much more, but the list would be endless.
2. What’s your favorite genre to read?
Agustina Bazterrica: I read everything that interests me. Poetry, essays, novels, short stories. I don’t read one genre exclusively. It is not that I only read horror or only science fiction, although my books are located within these genres. For me everything is literature.
3. Which do you prefer: ebook or audiobook?
Agustina Bazterrica: Audiobooks because I can do other things while listening. I listen to many podcasts of people who read short stories and, in that way, I discover new authors.
4. What’s your writing routine or process?
Agustina Bazterrica: I read all the time, but I don’t write every day. For me, reading is part of the same writing process. Reading is inspiring, writing is expiring. I think a lot, for a long time, about how to approach a topic, how to tell it, the type of language I will use to tell that story… When all of this is clear to me, I write every day at night, with music in another language so as not to lose concentration.
5. How much of your writing success is due to hard work, talent, or luck?
Agustina Bazterrica: I think that talent is not enough, nor is luck. It is a combination of many variables, but what is undoubtedly essential for me is work. For me, literature has nothing to do with how many books I sold or how many prizes I won: it has to do with a search, with trying to answer questions that have no answer. And to that search, I dedicate my life. For me, success is writing the best work that you can achieve at that moment and hoping that this work mobilizes or challenges the reader. Perhaps, in this process, luck helps to give the work more visibility.
Wildcard: If you could have coffee/tea with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Agustina Bazterrica: With my maternal grandmother, to whom I dedicated Nineteen Claws and a Black Bird. She is one of my heroines. She was one of the first women to study economics in Argentina and, thanks to that degree, when she became a very young widow, she was able to support her four children alone. She was a great, great reader and we would get together in the afternoons to talk about books. She always drank champagne and I, red wine. I miss her so much. And I would like my cat Benito who died in 2019 to also be present at this meeting. The three of us in a meeting of souls.