Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Virtual Blog Tour: Luchador by Erin Finnegan (Excerpt, Author Guest Post, Review + Giveaway)

Virtual Blog Tour: Luchador by Erin Finnegan (Excerpt, Author Guest Post, Review + Giveaway)


Each week, Gabriel Romero’s drive to Sunday mass takes him past “El Ángel,” the golden statue at the heart of Mexico City that haunts his memories and inspires his future. Spurred by the memory of his parents, Gabriel is drawn to the secretive world of lucha libre, where wrestling, performance art and big business collide.

Under the conflicting mentorships of one of lucha libre’s famed gay exótico wrestlers and an ambitious young luchador whose star is on the rise, Gabriel must choose between traditions which ground him but may limit his future, and the lure of sex and success that may compromise his independence. Surrounded by a makeshift family of wrestlers, Gabriel charts a course to balance ambition, sexuality and loyalty to find the future that may have been destined for him since childhood.


“You’re going to wrestle with us?”
“I’d like to,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel turned his beer bottle clockwise, picked at the moist label, and then spun it counter-clockwise.
“Something’s on your mind,” Miguel said. Gabriel’s focus stayed fixed on the bottle.
Turn, pick, spin. Repeat.
“Look at me,” Miguel said. “Spit it out.”
Gabriel stopped, tapped his fingers on the table, and finally looked up, meeting Miguel’s eye. “Are you going to make me an exótico?”
“Are you going to make me be an exótico?” he repeated with more force.
“I can’t make you anything,” Miguel said.
“I heard I would be an exótico, that I don’t have a choice.”
“Who told you that?” Miguel asked. Gabriel glanced to the end of the bar, and Miguel’s gaze followed. “Gabriel, look at me. You’re a rookie. You’re just starting out. And I don’t represent the leagues. As far as I’m concerned, you can be whatever you want. But the future? I can’t predict that. You become a league wrestler, and they’ll have a say in the character they want you to play.”
Gabriel looked down, grim and silent, poking at his cuticles. Miguel wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know.
“You have choices, you know,” Miguel added. He narrowed the gap between them to be heard over the din of the bar, as if sharing a secret. “You don’t have to join a league.”
“But then, I’ll never get to the top,” Gabriel said, not bothering to look up.
“Does that really matter?”
Miguel dipped his head, forcing Gabriel to make eye contact. He didn’t move until Gabriel acknowledged him, albeit with a grunt.
“I told you, you have choices to make. You’re a good wrestler. You could become a great luchador. But success? Only you can decide what that means to you. Is it money? Television? Fame? Then you become a league luchador and you play by their rules.”
“And an exótico?”
“Maybe,” Miguel said. “Or is success something else, Gabriel? Is it being the luchador that you want to be? Not letting an empresa decide that for you? Then maybe you stay independent.”
Gabriel measured the words, sometimes acknowledging with the slightest of unconscious head bobs, occasionally glancing over to where Arturo stood at the bar.
That didn’t go unnoticed.
“No one can make these choices for you. Not me, not anyone else.”
Somehow, Miguel knew, and acknowledged it without the judgment Gabriel expected. “Whatever you decide, understand that at some point, you’re going to have to sacrifice for it.”
“I don’t understand.”
Miguel leaned back in his chair and looked at the ceiling, as if the dim bulbs and acoustic tiles held the answer to life’s great mysteries. “You will.”


Erin Finnegan

I want to preface this by saying I’m writing this at the request of my editor—an editor who would like to see more manuscript submissions built on a rock-solid foundation of research.

I’m not generally a fan of sharing my thoughts, or at least lengthy thoughts, on the writing process. I understand that a lot of people enjoy hearing how others go about the day-to-day of authoring, but I’m not one of them. I can’t imagine how people would glean anything helpful from my admittedly frenetic writing habits.  

Telling people that I seem to be most productive on airplanes and in bars hardly seems helpful, even if it is honest. When it comes to writing advice, I’m firmly entrenched in the “you be you” school of thought.

But research? On research, I might have something to say, and my editor has asked me to say it, because a lot of work went into Luchador—about three years’ worth from concept to launch.

I had a passing interest in lucha libre prior to writing Luchador, but my experience with it was limited to a few visits to Lucha Va Voom, the Los Angeles-based burlesque-meets-lucha show; an occasional and largely accidental viewing of a lucha libre match on Spanish language television; and the movie Nacho Libre.

This much I knew going in: A burlesque show and a Jack Black movie do not make for a a solid foundation for a book set in the world of lucha libre. Neither do  Wikipedia or Google, for that matter, but they provide a starting point.

I got my hands on everything I could read: biographies, histories, a PhD thesis. (Yup—a thesis on lucha libre—a great read that influenced a lot of the themes in the book.) I programmed my TiVo to automatically record Lucha Azteca and Lucha Underground. I began following luchadores and lucha fan blogs, and engaged more than a few of them. I went to Lucha Va Voom, my local resource for live lucha action.

And, while I didn’t realize it at the time, it wasn’t enough.

I decided to take a working vacation in Mexico City, where I would spend a week immersing myself in my protagonist’s world, in churches and museums and most importantly, at the lucha matches at Arena Coliseo and Arena México.

It altered my view and changed my book. No matter what I might have found in a web search, I had been viewing lucha through American eyes, and what I saw at the home of lucha libre gave me an entirely different perspective of this performance sport.

Now, I’m a realist—and I’ve said this to my editor—I can’t just tell people “Hey, hop a plane and get to know the place you’re writing about.” It’s not practical or realistic for most writers. That’s not the point, she said. The point is going the extra mile, not using a Google search not as a shortcut or a crutch, but as a starting point. To do your due diligence as a writer means depict your world in as accurate of detail as possible. (That is, if you are writing about a contemporary, real world.  Sci fi writers, you’re on your own on this one, and I envy your ability to create your worlds.)

I get it. I’ve vetted and beta’d manuscripts where authors had run a cursory web search of a neighborhood, viewed it from Google earth, and went on to write about it. The depictions may not have been wholly inaccurate, but they often lacked the nuance—the sites, sounds, and grit that bring writing to life.

The point, of course, is this: You may not be able to travel to the location of your story. You may have to rely on existing sources to depict something you’ve never seen for yourself. And that’s fine, but go the extra mile to find people who have been there, who are willing to share some of this detail to help bring your writing to life.

And that’s something Wikipedia will never do for you.

A very different read.

Going into this book I really didn't know much about Luchadors. My husband is a huge fan of professional wrestling and has spoken about wrestlers who have a Luchador influence but I never really knew the story behind them. Very interesting and colorful to say the least.

I loved the unique story of Gabriel's journey in life from childhood to young adulthood. How his late father first influenced his love for Lucha Libre and even after death how it had resonated with him. He found a passion for it, the stories it tells, the dynamics and the artistic qualities that surround it. It became part of him. It was a world he felt drawn to and needed to be part of.

There is a wonderful cast of characters throughout the story and we watch as they help Gabriel in his discovery of himself and his sexuality. Identity is such a central theme to the story for all who are involved. The characters evolve as the story progresses and the growth is evident in Gabriel from beginning to end.

I am very impressed with Erin Finnegan's writing. The way the words had an almost hypnotic effect to them, painting such a vivid picture I felt I could see things perfectly. While personally I am not a fan of professional wrestling or Lucha Libre and will most likely never attend it live, I can appreciate the artistic beauty of their matches.

4.5 Stars!

*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*

About the Author
Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and winemaker who lives in the foothills outside Los Angeles. A lifelong sports fan and occasional sports writer, she has had to dive out of the way of flying luchadores at matches in both the U.S. and Mexico. Luchador was named on of Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2016. Her first novel, Sotto Voce, received a PW starred review and a Foreword Reviews Indiefab Silver Book of the Year Award.
Connect with author Erin Finnegan at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at @eringofinnegan.


Grand Prize $25 IP Gift Card + Multi-format eBook of Luchador // Five winners receive Luchador eBook
a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for hosting this final day of the #LUCHAtour, and for that fantastic review! Wrestling may be an odd choice for the backdrop of a romantic novel, but I'm so happy you enjoyed the book! I'm also happy to answer any questions—and don't forget to sign up for your chance at a free "Luchador" eBook in our Rafflecopter, everybody! —Erin