Mexican Gothic author Silvia Moreno-Garcia shares what fans can expect from Hulu limited series
The award-winning author explains how she hopes the small screen adaptation helps open doors for Latin American talent.
By Rosy Cordero
Fans of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s hit novel Mexican Gothic shouldn’t expect a sequel, but there’s no telling how the world of its protagonist Noemi Taboada will expand when it’s adapted as a limited series on Hulu.
The New York Times best-selling book tells the story of anthropology student and socialite Noemi, 22, who leaves the comforts of home in Mexico City in the 1950s to care for her ailing cousin, Catalina, in the remote mountain town of El Triunfo. Noemi knows something is amiss as soon as her train arrives in the desolate location, and it’s confirmed as she drives up a mountain to her destination, High Place. The decrepit yet expansive home, which belonged to Catalina’s husband Virgil Doyle’s family for decades, looks like it has seen better days but its problems go way beyond aesthetics and into the realm of the supernatural.
“One of the direct sources of inspiration for the novel is a real town located in central Mexico in the state of Hidalgo called Real del Monte,” Moreno-Garcia tells EW about the origins of Mexican Gothic. “It was a mining town for a really long time and in the 1800s, mining operations were taken over by British people and was nicknamed Little Cornwall. It has a very particular type of architecture, it’s high in the mountains, and it tends to be colder there. They also have a very heavy rainy season where things get pretty misty. And because this town was mined by the British it has an English cemetery which I visited.
“I remembered this cemetery for many years later, so when I was thinking about the next thing I was going to write I decided I would do a horror novel inspired by this location and also the overall large tradition of gothic fiction.”
Mexican Gothic has a true start and ending point. Moreno-Garcia explains she didn’t create a backstory for Noemi and Catalina nor what happens after the book ends between Noemi and Franic. Whether or not the Hulu series — being produced by Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos — will dive into that is still unknown.
“I know certain details [about Noemi and Catalina’s past] but I’m not the type of person that interviews my own characters,” she explains. “But I do have an understanding of what type of person they were and what their family structure looks like. We move pretty fast from the city to the countryside in this novel, so I decided to create the geographical transition pretty quickly. A lot about Noemi’s way of life and how things were you learn while she’s already at High Place.”
She adds, “As far as what the show will cover, we haven’t done much planning for it yet. We’re thinking it will be between 8 and 10 episodes max at this point. We need to find a screenwriter or screenwriters and figure out the story structure, which we haven’t mapped out yet. We also haven’t decided whether the story will be linear or non-linear but it is supposed to be a self-contained TV mini-series. Because of the time length that we are talking about, there’s probably going to be an expansion of certain storylines that is not present in the original novel, but we haven’t gone in and said exactly what that might look like.”
Moreno-Garcia says Ripa was one of an estimated 12 people bidding to adapt Mexican Gothic, which she calls “an unusual situation.”
“She read it and she was very interested and very eager to talk to me,” she says. “[Kelly] explained they might be able to do something interesting together with Hulu so we talked about it. She found the story very creepy and different. There sometimes aren’t many women who can bring attention to certain things, it’s a very male-dominated space still. This was a special case where a woman connected with the book who got a lot of people involved that ended up coming into the deal like Hulu. She really was instrumental in that deal. There was a lot of interest, as I said before, but I really liked my conversations with her and her husband Mark Consuelos.”
And although casting is still a ways off, Moreno-Garcia has very specific ideas that tie-into the authenticity of the book’s characters and their location. When asked whether or not Consuelos is in the running to play Noemi’s dad, she giggled.
“We haven’t spoken about specific actors but we have had conversations about getting a cast and crew, which is very important, that is appropriate to the material,” she said emphatically. “Everybody tends to think in terms of casting because those are the faces that appear on a show, so you obviously want a lead who is Latin American to play Noemi and not someone [from a different culture]. Beyond that, it’s also important to me that we get screenwriters, production people, directors, who understand where the story is coming from. These are some of the conversations we had because it’s difficult when you have someone who doesn’t understand the culture to get them to generate material or create this very specific world from the story.
“We also discussed how this might be a very good opportunity for a lot of Latin American actors for those parts because they are unusual parts. Many times, they get cast in very narrow roles, so this definitely offers a wider range of opportunities to have different people in a story. We don’t have the same broad diversity of actors normally on TV and movies, so you don’t see a lot of people who are darker or who look more indigenous in media. And when you do, it’s a small role. There’s some interesting work that has to be done by the casting director for the roles, but casting the British actors will certainly be much easier. [Game of Thrones‘] Charles Dance is the perfect age to play the patriarch, for example. But when you start talking about the Latin American roles, those will be very difficult and that’s because we’re still not at a place in terms of diversity both in literature and in Hollywood where we can easily pick from a large pool of talent. We need the people working behind-the-scenes to think more creatively and more diversely.”
For fans left wanting more from Moreno-Garcia, she says she has a new book set to be released in July 2021 called “Dangerous Eagerness,” a noir crime novel set in Mexico in 1971, against the backdrop of the student movement that was taking place in Mexico City at the time, and the student massacre that took place in the city on a certain day in June.
Author Silvia Moreno-Garcia talks ‘Mexican Gothic’s origin story and what fans can expect from its Hulu limited series, being produced by Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos.