Unless you’ve been hiding under a social media rock, you’ve surely heard about Luchador, by Erin Finnegan. Not only did Publisher’s Weekly just name it one of their best books of 2016, but it’s getting rave reviews across the board! Our own Rafa proclaims Luchador to be “a thrilling and thought-provoking read” and “an unapologetic love letter to the sport of Mexican wrestling” (read her five-star review here!).
Still not sure about this new sports romance? Today we have an excerpt to tempt you into that one-click, as well as an interview with author Erin Finnegan! Plus, you don’t want to miss the excellent giveaway at the end of the post?
Well, what are you waiting for? Jump in the ring with us and check out Luchador:
Luchador, by Erin Finnegan
Publisher: Interlude Press
Release Date: November 3, 2016
Once Gabriel had thought that he had a sophisticated knowledge of lucha libre. But the more he spent time with Miguel, the more he realized that his understanding of the sport and its significance in Mexican pop culture—even Mexican political movements—was on a novice level at best.
Lucha libre was no longer the simple entertainment of his childhood. Leaps, flips, and locks were trained, drilled, and earned. Masks were symbolic and served a purpose in defining characters and telling their stories. It was not just the show on television—“A circus,” Miguel would complain—but a serious mélange of art, sport, and metaphor that Gabriel was only beginning to understand.
The more he learned, the more he wanted to absorb. Campus gradually took a back seat to the gym, his new source of higher learning.
So he listened to Miguel and did as he was told—usually—to ensure that his education continued. If that meant standing by a piss-soaked pillar outside a crumbling civic arena to meet someone he couldn’t identify, he’d do it.
In many ways, the little venue reminded him of Arena Coliseo, the one-time boxing arena in north-central Mexico City now dedicated full-time to lucha libre. Arena Coliseo was close to fans’ hearts for its history in the sport—and its cheap beer—and had seen better days. Its beach ball-colored seats were crusted with grime and acrylic paint. The sound system squawked. Its lighting bore down on the ring with little concern for staging. It didn’t hold a candle to the relative glitz of Arena México, its cross-town rival that featured light shows, fog effects, booming music, and ring girls—all on display for the weekly lucha libre broadcasts.
“Excess,” Miguel would say, if the topic came up, though Gabriel took it with a grain of salt. La Rosa had wrestled on some of those broadcasts, after all, and with some of the flashiest costumes and biggest entourages of all the luchadores.
Miguel clearly preferred Arena Coliseo, despite its aging surrounds. He said it brought fans closer to the authentic purpose of lucha libre—the good-versus-evil narratives played out by the técnicos and rudos each week—rather than light shows and loud music. Gabriel suspected this was why Miguel still agreed to perform in these small, unsanctioned, questionable events outside of the city.
Each week, Gabriel Romero’s drive to Sunday mass takes him past “El Ángel,” the golden statue at the heart of Mexico City that haunts his memories and inspires his future. Spurred by the memory of his parents, Gabriel is drawn to the secretive world of lucha libre, where wrestling, performance art and big business collide.
Under the conflicting mentorships of one of lucha libre’s famed gay exótico wrestlers and an ambitious young luchador whose star is on the rise, Gabriel must choose between traditions which ground him but may limit his future, and the lure of sex and success that may compromise his independence. Surrounded by a makeshift family of wrestlers, Gabriel charts a course to balance ambition, sexuality and faith to find the future that may have been destined for him since childhood.
From the author of “Sotto Voce,” a coming of age story about finding your identity behind a mask.
You can purchase Luchador at:
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Erin Finnegan, author of Luchador, which was just named one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2016. Congratulations, Erin, and thank you for the interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Thanks for having me! It’s a relief (and kind of exciting) to finally be talking at length about Luchador, since I first started working on it three years ago! I’m really honored by the announcement from PW, and I’m still trying to form words, other than to say that I’m incredibly grateful.
Luchador is my second book. My debut, Sotto Voce, is also set in a world that I have a lot of love for—the independent winemakers of Sonoma County. I’m a winemaker myself, and I am a big fan of the somewhat smaller and mellower half of Northern California’s wine country.
Luchador is, no surprise, set in the world of lucha libre, or Mexican masked wrestling. But don’t be put off by the sweat, blood and Gatorade. Luchador is really a coming of age story of a young man who is looking to chart his own course in a world with set rules. There’s also Lycra.
Do you pay attention to literary criticism? If so, how do you handle it?
I’ve been writing professionally since I was 18 years old, the first decade or so in a newsroom. If you’ve been a reporter, you know that news editors can be tough on your copy, making sure that’s it’s accurate, tightly written, and not likely to land them in a lawsuit. It’s a great way to build a tough skin around your ego.
How does that translate to literary criticism? I think it’s helped me to understand that reviews are part of the business, and that not everyone is going to like your work. I do pay attention to trade reviews, and to book blogs, but I try not to let what they write—good or bad—influence how I feel about myself or my writing. I’ve seen a lot of writers lose confidence because of a bad review, and I think a writer always needs to be confident in what they’ve written.
And as for Goodreads? I leave that space for readers. I’m rarely there. I’ll occasionally add a book I liked (If I dislike a book, I just move on to the next book. I won’t leave 1-or-2 stars out of respect for the authors.) As I say on my Goodreads author page: Come over and say hi—on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook.
How do you come up with your titles?
Well, Luchador is about a… luchador. So I figure it’s got an appropriate name.
My first book, Sotto Voce, has a little more story behind the title. Sotto Voce is Italian (and a musical term) for “in soft voice”. It’s also the name of the wine that is at the center of the story. The wine is named for its complex subtlety, but Sotto Voce is also a description of the winemaker and one of the main characters in the book, a soft-spoken man of few words.
That character, Greg Kennedy, is quiet and a bit of a loner, but he’s also a leader in his community of Sonoma winemakers. The point being that sometimes it is the people who speak softly, not those who shout, that truly capture your attention. I can think of some politicians who could learn from that.
What authors have grabbed your interest lately?
Oh! It seems like there is someone new every day that I add to my “must read” list, or my “will read anything they write” list, but I’ll limit this to two.
First, a fellow Interlude author that I really hope writes another novel, because good lord, the first one took my breath away: Courtney Lux. I have dared more people than I can remember to read the prologue of Small Wonders without sitting down and gulping down the rest of it. The characters are detailed, and flawed, and marvelous. So nuanced. Trip Morgan can be an ass, but you can’t help but pull for him.
Hold on, I lied. Let me mention one more IP author, Alicia Constantine, because I am trying to figure out how to pull a Mission Impossible-esque break-in to get a hold of her next manuscript. I’ve read the summary of her next, as-yet-unannounced book, and I want it, now. If you haven’t read her first book, Sweet, get it, search the word “peaches,” fan yourself, then go back to the beginning and enjoy all that luscious prose.
Alight, enough advertising for Interlude. One more, and I realize that I’m late to this party, but I’m so glad I showed up. I just started reading Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older, and I’m blown away. I’m reading it slowly and savoring every word. So much attention to detail, such a great concept. Love it. I’ve added him to my “I’ll follow you anywhere in literature” list.
What is the hardest part about writing?
Time is the enemy.
Like a lot of writers, there’s a day job, and it involves of a lot of time and deadlines, and people who need my attention, right now. It’s hard to carve out time to write, especially productive blocks of time, with that going on.
I was at an event recently where another author talked about how she can jam out a book in six weeks. I’ll never be that person. A book every two-to-three years is more my speed, and I’m fine with that.
Name your four most important food groups.
Syrah, Zinfandel, Viognier and the catch of the day at Mama’s Fish House.
Her first novel, Sotto Voce, was published by Interlude Press in 2014 and received a PW star and a Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year award. Luchador, her second novel, will be published November 3, 2016.
You have not one, but six chances to win today! One grand prize winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to Interlude Press, as well as a multi-format eBook of Luchador. Another five winners will each receive an eBook copy of Luchador!
To enter, simply click on the link below to be transported to the rafflecopter giveaway page: