Joy Castro is the author of the thriller Hell or High Water, which received a starred review from Booklist for its “exquisite New Orleans background, intriguing newsroom politics and atmosphere, a flawed but plucky heroine, and skillfully paced suspense.” Also the author of two memoirs, The Truth Book and Island of Bones, she lives with her husband in Lincoln, Nebraska and teaches creative writing, literature, and Latino studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
From her Q & A with Amelia M.L. Montes at La Bloga:
Montes: In an earlier interview, you explained that Nola Soledad Céspedes is an unreliable narrator. Tell us more about how creating an unreliable narrator may add to the power of story.Visit Joy Castro’s website and Twitter perch.
Castro: I wouldn’t generalize and say that it always does. Sometimes stories with reliable narrators are tremendously powerful. It varies.
In Hell or High Water, Nola moves from being unreliable throughout much of the novel to disclosing more fully and honestly at the end. She undergoes a change in that regard. So you might say that she ultimately becomes reliable. It’s the move that Raymond Carver’s short story “Cathedral” makes, and a move I have always loved: a narrator with blind spots, delusions, or fiercely held secrets undergoes a transformation, an opening, a new warmth.
I find that powerful in a story, because it’s powerful in real life. Those moments when we really, deeply change: those times are few and far between, and they’re memorable.
Montes: Nola es una mujer who, at the beginning of the novel, is not only promiscuous (in terms of how society views women who have multiple partners) but dangerous/careless yet always in charge in her sexual exploits. Then, toward the end of the novel, there is a change. Tell us how the character of Bento was created and how does Nola and her connection with Bento break expected stereotypes of women and sex, of women in relationships. And how is this in keeping with Nola’s character development?
Castro: You’re right, of course, but I’d hesitate to use the charged and sexist word promiscuous about my protagonist, or any character, or any woman, because it’s so...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Hell or High Water.
Writers Read: Joy Castro.