I’ve been wanting to interview Robina Garber again ever since her Zodiac series ended. I’m so excited for her new series, Wolves of No World, and the first book, LOBIZONA, set to debut on August 4:
Some people ARE illegal.
Lobizonas do NOT exist.
Both of these statements are false.
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.
Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.
As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.
In our last interview, you said you always change your mind about which one of your books is your favorite. Do you have a current favorite?
Ha! I guess I still suffer from the same favoritism because I continue to be most attached to my latest manuscript. So, at the moment, my favorite is the sequel to Lobizona! 😉
I can see why! I love how LOBIZONA is inspired by Argentine folklore. How did this story first come to you, and how did it develop as you wrote it?
Thank you! I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I immigrated to the States with my family when I was five. It was in Miami that I discovered the Argentine law that spawned 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 law, I came across a curse on seventh children that claims the last daughter in a row of seven will be a bruja, and the seventh son a lobizón. Werewolf. There’s no way to know for certain if this superstition is connected to the adoption of this law, but there’s also no way to know for certain that it isn’t.
I knew I wanted to write about this concept, but rather than a straightforward fantasy, I opted to explore the mythologies we weave with our words every day. Lobizona is a treatise on labels and the dehumanizing effect of calling someone illegal. It’s a warning of what happens when we take language too literally, and the dangers we face when we go from us defining words to words defining us.
In the book, 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.
I love that concept because not only is it based on actual history, it also epitomizes what it feels like to not belong. What stories would you like to see more of and why?
I would like to see more stories written by and about marginalized voices. I wrote a different version of this book in 2008, and when I queried it, I was told U.S. readers wouldn’t be interested in stories about Argentine immigrants. So I set it aside, and over time, I watched the situation worsen for immigrants in this country, culminating in the separation of families and the caging of children.
I wish I’d fought harder to make my characters’ voices heard a decade ago. My dream is to read more books about people of every background, so that no one has to feel like their story doesn’t matter.
That would be a beautiful world to live in! In light of recent events, including the pandemic, what do you feel has been most helpful for you as an author and why?
Believe it or not—and of course this is easier to say now that the sequel is in—being on deadline for the first couple of months was really good for me. In hindsight, I feel like the pandemic hit me a little belatedly because I had the privilege of being in the final stages of drafting, which is often the most delightful part of the process, since by then the story’s momentum takes me over and it’s a steep descent to
madness the denouement!
Now while I await notes, what’s been most helpful are video chats with friends, binging shows I’ve always meant to check out, reading through the stack of books on my nightstand, and generally being unproductive!
The Zodiac Series: