The Werewolves Are Howling Again: Joy Interviews Romina Garber, author of LOBIZONA

One of the best things about being a bookseller is getting to read books months before they publish. We received Advanced Reader Copies of LOBIZONA back in Winter of 2019, so I’ve been excited about the book for a long time now - the kind of excited anticipation that helps get a girl through a pandemic. Especially because werewolves are back - this time with Argentinian folklore! Let’s just say you all need to mark your TBR lists for this page-turning YA that tells the story of a girl named Manu who is much more than she realizes (and just fyi, it’s our Not YA Mama’s Book Club pick for September 8th!) I had the extra delight of getting to chat with Romina about LOBIZONA, and her answers to my questions are as exciting as the book! Here’s what she had to say:

 

JOY PREBLE: Well, I guess the best place to start is with this: Why werewolves? What drew you to using this particular shapeshifting myth for Manu’s story?

ROMINA GARBER: I don’t want to frighten anyone, but the werewolves of Lobizona are real. . . . 

 

JP: What? Really? Tell me more!

RG: Like Manu, I was flipping through the pages of a newspaper when I discovered the Argentine law that inspired this story—ley de padrinazgo presidencial 20.843. It declares the President of Argentina godparent to the seventh consecutive son or daughter in a family. 

When I researched the history of this custom, facts seemed to bleed into folklore, until I stumbled across a superstition that claims these children are born cursed: Seventh daughters are brujas, and seventh sons are lobizones.

 

JP: That’s amazing! And thrilling! I love that you were able to place Manu against this very specific backdrop. And speaking of Manu’s story, at what point during the writing did you realize that not only were you writing a thrilling werewolf tale, but also a story about belonging, about family, and about the ‘otherness’ of being an illegal immigrant?

RG: I wrote LOBIZONA because it’s the book teen-me needed. 

When I was five, my parents uprooted our family from Argentina to the United States. Growing up, I spent a lot of time feeling out of place and wondering who I would be if we had never left Argentina. The first time I ever felt at home anywhere was in the pages of my favorite fantasy novels. 

This book is about what it’s like to come from two worlds but belong to neither. To speak two languages but still lack the vocabulary to define yourself. Manu’s dual identity as a human and a werewolf is a threat to both her worlds, and rather than having two homes, she’s left with none. As an immigrant, this sense of homelessness is one I’ve struggled with my whole life. 

 

JP: Interesting! All four of my grandparents came from other countries, so I have my own sense of how that affects people and families. And it’s such a universal thing, too, isn’t it? Defining ourselves and figuring out who we are in the scope of the world. Of course it’s all intensified with Manu, because she’s a werewolf!

And speaking of werewolves, beyond your own characters, who are your favorite fictional (books or film) werewolves and why?

RG: My favorite werewolf is Oz from Buffy! I grew up on that series so he’s one of the first werewolves I ever encountered. I also love that he dated Willow, a witch, since that fits so perfectly with the world of my book. Yet for the record, I want to note that my favorite wolf-ship would have to be Grace and Sam from Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy. 

 

JP: Buffy! My greatest fandom! Loved Oz! And the Willow and Oz… those were such great episodes. And Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy - also one of my true favorites! Grace and Sam… such tingly romance. I love that these were part of your influences! 

And as for other influences, Argentinian folklore plays a role in LOBIZONA. Were there certain tales that you grew up hearing that influenced your writing?

RG: More than Argentinian folklore, what fascinates me about this concept is the thin border separating fact from fiction. Was this simply a tradition-turned-law brought over by dignitaries visiting from Europe in the early 1900s? Was it a government countermeasure to stop parents from abandoning children they feared had been born cursed? Was it both? 

My parents met at the end of the Guerra Sucia, a violent dictatorship during which dissidents disappeared overnight and children were ripped from their families—to this day, the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo continue to search for their lost grandchildren. So I wove Argentinian folklore into my story to warn how thin the line is between policy and public sentiment. 

How quickly even the most outrageous beliefs can take root and fuel movements. 

How futile walls are because ideas won’t be contained by borders. 

 

JP: How futile indeed. And how we all wish that violent dictatorships were a thing only of the past. 

Finally,  what’s next for Romina Garber? Will there be more to come for LOBIZONA? Are you working on other projects? We want to know! And we also hope you’re coming to Houston sometime soon! 

RG: I hope so too! I’m actually working on the sequel to LOBIZONA, which is proving to be both darker and more hopeful than the first instalment—and I already can’t wait to share it with you! Thank you so much for this chat!

 

JP: Thank you, Romina!

 

You can find more information about Romina and her books here: http://rominagarber.com

And don’t forget to order your copy of LOBIZONA, coming on August 4th!

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Staff Pick Badge
Lobizona: A Novel (Wolves of No World #1) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250239129
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wednesday Books - August 4th, 2020

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