Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Romina Garber: When I was five, my parents uprooted our family from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Miami, Florida. Growing up—and probably even now—I felt more at home in the worlds of my favorite stories than the worlds of this planet. I wrote Lobizona because it’s the book teen-me needed: a fantasy about immigrant Latinx witches and werewolves who celebrate my traditions, speak my languages, and make me swoon.
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
Lobizona is an exploration of the immigrant identity that braids together contemporary issues and Argentinian folklore.
Sixteen-year-old Manu is living in hiding in Miami because of her undocumented status and her otherworldly eyes—but when her mom is arrested by ICE, Manu is left unprotected. Alone, she follows a series of clues that lead her to the Everglades, where she discovers a world ripped from her childhood stories . . . A world where it’s not her residency that’s illegal, but her existence.
What character do you most relate to and why?
I probably relate to Manu most because we both love the same books. Since she’s grown up isolated from other kids her age, most of what she knows comes from her favorite stories, shows, and films. That’s what makes her idealistic at heart and a bit of a romantic—though she doesn’t think she’s either of those things!
What’s next for you in the book world?
I am currently working on the sequel to Lobizona, and all I can say is it’s both darker and more hopeful than the first installment . . .
Your novel features beautiful imagery and magical elements. What inspired these scenic moments and which were some of your favorites?
Thank you! I had so much fun designing El Laberinto, which looks like an ancient city that got swallowed up by the Everglades. Giant stone structures rise from the soil, as deeply rooted to the land as the foliage ensnaring them.
I also love Flora, the teaching tree that grows right through the ceiling of a giant marble building. The brujas have their classes in Flora’s trunk, and one of my favorite spaces there is the living library: It births books before one’s very eyes and shuffles its shelves to recommend titles.
Best of all was creating Lunaris, the supernatural realm the brujas and lobizones return to every full moon. It’s a land of magic and mist and monsters. There’s the golden grass that ticks off time by turning silver as the day ages; the black-leaved trees that can cry up storms, their dewdrop tears rolling down their barks to form rivers; the colorful waterfalls that warn onlookers of oncoming danger; the hope-sucking Sombras that dwell in darkness and attach like parasitic shadows . . . and I think I’ll let readers discover the rest of themselves!