Today we have the pleasure of speaking with author Hector Duarte, Jr! Hector is a writer and teacher out of Miami, Florida. He was former editor at The Flash Fiction Offensive. His work has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Spelk Fiction, HorrorSleazeTrash, and Just to Watch Them Die: Crime Fiction inspired by the songs of Johnny Cash. His first full-length work, the short story collection Desperate Times Call, was published by Shotgun Honey Books in September 2018.
Thriller Magazine: Thank you for the interview, Hector! Your collection of short stories, Desperate Times Call, focuses on characters who are on the fringe of society. What attracted you to write about that subject?
As you get older and experience enough of life, you come to realize that a lot of people are living on the fringes of society, which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re living a life of crime, squalor, etc. Not many people live on the completely straight and narrow, including those with beaucoup bucks some of us might get a peek at and say, “Damn, I wish that was my life.” Even some of those folks are trying to cheat the system or bilk others (Just look at the college admissions scandal). There’s something to that that intrigues me. Because, as much as it may not seem like it, that very human flaw of trying to squeeze through and cut corners makes us all equal. That’s what I love about these types of stories. Everyone, regardless of money or status, is desperate at some point, and acts accordingly.
TM: With your experience as an editor, how does being an editor help you as a writer and vice versa?
I am forever grateful to friends and fellow writers Joe Clifford and Tom Pitts for their pulling me into editing duties at The Flash Fiction Offensive for almost four years. In that time, I learned how to streamline a story, make the most of a scene in a short amount of time, how mere shock value does not make for good crime or noir. Most importantly, I learned the importance of supporting the indie publishing movement. If you follow someone on Twitter who’s just published, buy their book and help spread the word. Try to follow them the way you would your favorite celebrity and get others on board. That goes such a long way.
TM: As a fairly new writer, what are some of the biggest obstacles you have had to overcome thus far?
Self doubt is the biggest. As I write, I’m constantly second guessing myself and I’ve had to really learn to silence that voice as I’m going but also learn when to listen to it, because it can be helpful. It’s a good exercise in discipline.
After publishing my first book, another lesson learned was opening my eyes to the business side of publishing, which is it’s own huge and at times, harsh, lesson. It’s not over once you publish. Because then starts the whole process of trying to spotlight your book and make people aware of it without being annoying. And, guess what, every other writer out there is doing the same thing. Depending on the publisher, it’s usually on you to be your own promotion machine, which is a strange dynamic because all that time you’re on social media trying to hustle is time you’re not writing. It’s also interesting to realize who’s actually there come publication time and who goes stealth. Lots of people who swore to be first in line buying the book, I haven’t heard from since.
There’s an upside to all this. It showed me the importance of persevering and moving forward, no matter what. Write for its own sake and not for hits, clicks, or likes. Fuck all that noise. I’ve learned to stop giving a shit and just write purely for the act of it. It’s liberating and makes me much more productive.
TM: Lastly, what are some of your current projects that readers can expect to see in the coming year?
I’m working on a couple of manuscripts and a very special project I don’t want to drop dime on too much because I’m superstitious.