“The idea of mixing the dark and the beautiful was a big thing in my mind while I was writing,"
A few years ago, Ricardo Henriquez was in a fight for his life.
At least, that’s how it felt.
Crippling depression and anxiety had overwhelmed him and he struggled daily to find the will to fight the monsters that only he could see.
Over time, he found his way out of that dark and terrifying place, and yet, he still was not able to leave it completely behind.
So one day, the Chilean born author who now resides in Connecticut, with his husband of five years, sat down at his computer and began the first in a planned series of novels called The Catcher’s Trap.
SDGLN recently spoke with Henriquez about his debut novel and about the incredible influences that aided in its creation.
It was a fascinating journey that began two years ago when the author decided he had to write about his experiences, but he did not just want to chronicle his own story.
“I have always been a fan of fantasy and horror,” he began. “So, I thought, ‘What if I turn this into something more fun…something that I actually love.’ I decided I wanted to create a world where all the feelings I had during this dark time in my life could be tangible.”
And create it, he did.
The Catcher’s Trap centers on Andres, a young man living in New York awakening to his identity and sexuality.
He is kidnapped by a “catcher” named Roman and taken to a land known only as The Mist.
He is made a slave there and forced to work in fields harvesting eilift flowers. They are beautiful with razor sharp edges, and they can only grow where human blood has been spilled.
Henriquez explained that these choices were very purposeful.
“The idea of mixing the dark and the beautiful was a big thing in my mind while I was writing," he said. "The book is really violent, but I wanted to mix that with pieces that were incredibly beautiful.
"Those opposites made a perfect description of my feeling during the darkest part of my depression.”
The dangers and the wonders of The Mist are abundant as Andres navigates the unfamiliar terrain, and meets a fascinating cast of characters, two of whom especially inform Andres’ evolution.
First there is Claudia, who the author admits was the most difficult of his characters to write.
“She was tough to write because she is so totally opposite of me,” Henriquez explained.
“She wants to survive. Survival is important to her, but she is also incredibly tough and being a slave does not sit well with her.
"She’s presented with this guy (Andres) who is risking their survival, but at the same time is showing her and the rest of the human slaves everything they need to make their lives better and to find freedom.”
There is also Roman, the aforementioned catcher who is tasked with kidnapping humans and bringing them to The Mist.
He represents the most dangerous part of a person during the depression cycle.
Says Henriquez: “I loved writing Roman, probably because I’m a fan of horror so I love writing bad guys. I wanted him to be incredibly psychopathic. I wanted him to have this personality where he was sweet and awful at the same time. He is the abuser in a relationship who hits you, then promises never to do it again and somehow manipulates you into staying even though you know he will break that promise.”
Over the course of the novel, Henriquez also gives us glimpses into Andres’ past in our own world that mirror his own experience growing up gay in the incredibly conservative Chile with is conservative religious family.
“The people that I love and who loved me were also incredibly cruel to me," he said. "I was not like the other boys, and in order to correct that they would be cruel because they thought they were doing something for my own good. A lot of the family bullying I describe with his brothers was what I experienced with my own cousins. They were trying to ‘make me into a man’.”
And yet, through all of that, the author found his way to acceptance and he is on what he considers the road to healing.
“I’m doing really well, now," the author said. "Things are good. I came out of this episode with the support of my husband, my family, and friend, but also with therapists and doctors.
"I believe in getting help when you need it,” he adds. “But I’m in a really great place in my life. I wrote this book. I ran the NYC marathon last year. Depression, and especially anxiety, never really go away, but I have learned to deal with them a lot better than I did before.”
That progression is echoed in his plans for the next book in the series as well.
“The first book is all about survival,” he says. “The second book is about discovery.”
You can purchase a copy of The Catcher’s Trap from Amazon or Inkshares.com and also at select Barnes and Noble bookstores.