Manuel Sanchez

  • ManuelSanchez_webManuel Sanchez, Academic Transfer

    Both a poet and a prose writer, Emmanuel Sanchez saw his exciting short story, “The Blacklist,” published in Illuminations, Vol. 16. Manuel talks with us about why he chose to write a story tinged with violence and what his writing hopes are for the future.

    Illuminations: Hi, Manuel! You’ve submitted both poetry and prose to Illuminations. Which do you prefer to write and why?

    Manuel: I prefer to write prose because I have had a very active imagination ever since I was an infant. Short stories are a way to let the imagination flourish and to distribute a message for the reader in a more expanded form than poetry. Poems can do the same thing, but a short story is more direct, especially when you play around with characters and their context.

    I: I see your point. Your short story, “The Blacklist,” published in Volume 16, was about a retired criminal of the Frontier Cartel who had been caught smuggling cocaine from Mexico into the U.S. Your protagonist serves time and is placed in the Witness Protection Program, but violence hits him hard in your story. Where did you get the idea for this story, and why was this an important topic for you to write about?

    M: I initially got the idea from the stories I hear about from my family back in Mexico. And by using violence in the story, I wanted to portray to the reader that violence is a harmful form of proving a point or marking a presence in society. Sometimes we do things in an easy way so we don't have to struggle, but the easy way is not always the best way, especially when it comes to earning money in countries with less opportunities and more poverty. With my story, I tried to prove that violence does not resolve anything but keeps a vicious cycle going. The character is a victim of violence, just like many individuals who have done things the easy way to improve their economy but have suffered losses as a consequence. In my story, I don't glorify violence but see that ugly way of it.

    I: A powerful message! Do you have favorite authors/poets that you enjoy reading?

    M: I enjoy reading Ernest Hemingway because he was also a journalist and seemed to express through fiction what he saw about the real world. He used his imagination to modify the events he experienced or observed, and that is what I did with “The Blacklist.”

    I: You’re in the Academic Transfer program. What do you see yourself doing in ten years, and do you see writing continuing to be a part of your life?

    M: I see myself working as a journalist in television or radio analyzing and informing about sports or anything else that is relevant in 2025. I also don't want “The Blacklist” to be my last story.

    I: What have been the responses of others after reading your story in Illuminations?

    M: I haven't had many interactions with readers yet. I do hope that changes in the next following months. The couple readers that I have talked to ask me how I invented all of the stuff that was in the story, and I usually answer, "Look at what is going on." I do want to clarify that my story was written before “The Blacklist” show premiered on television. The title of my story comes from a "corrido" song popular in Sinaloa, Mexico, in a regional music genre in that country.

    I: What advice would you give others who’d like to try their hand at writing stories or poetry?

    M: I would recommend they do it because it is an easy way to see if you really have talent in writing. There is a lot of quality that has been kept in online databases or just in folders or binders that has not been published that could have success if published. Just how you let your ideas flourish on paper, let your writings flourish with editors!

    I: Why not? And finally, the silly question of the day: If you could max out your credit card at any store, which store would it be, and what would you buy?

    M: I would max it out at Best Buy because I am obsessed with new electronic innovations around the market. I would buy more speakers for my car and a new television, stereo, laptop, phone, and many soccer video games.

    I: Thanks, Manuel!

    From “The Blacklist,”
    by Emmanuel Sanchez:

    [Anthony] parked in the gas station. What was significantly mysterious was that the black 300 had also parked. His family got out and stretched toward the early cold morning as if they were angels trying to reach Heaven. Anthony walked around and saw that the only available sunlight was covered by the famous mountains of Monterrey. The gas station was still dark, but he saw shadows getting out of the Chrysler 300. He saw a man approaching him. He squinted and distinguished Miguel Morales and three other members.

    "Hello, Anthony," said Miguel.

    "It’s you? Miguel?" said Anthony.

    "Yeah, it’s me. You thought you could continue living a peaceful life after you gave up our cartel's plans and drug routes?" asked Miguel.

    "Those Americans forced upon me a life in the shadow of jail or liberty," explained Anthony.

    "You're dead.... Kill him. Anthony is number one on my blacklist," said Miguel to his men.

    "How you know I was coming to Mexico?" asked Anthony.

    "Money makes a monkey dance, an American police monkey, and ha-ha," Miguel answered. In a sudden moment, Anthony saw his family run toward him after they spotted the armed men.

    "Stop!" shouted Anthony.

    "Kill them!" screamed Miguel. The men gunned down the shadows of Martha, Teresa, and Manuel. Anthony covered himself with the Escalade’s door. He cried. He wanted to die of desperation. He heard more gunshots and the noise of bullets hitting the Escalade's glass windows. Anthony looked up and saw sunlight beyond the Silleta Mountain.