My Novel Santa Muerte Mentioned in Academic Paper

On occasion I google my name, mostly to see if there are any mentions of me and my works anywhere I should be aware of. Yesterday, I came upon this find and I’m surprised I did not find it sooner.


Back in 2014 a student at the University of Miami mentioned me and my novel Santa Muerte in his thesis for his Master of Arts. Armando Rubi III wrote the below about my novel in his thesis Santa Muerte: A Transnational Spiritual Movement of the Marginalized.


I have not yet read the entire paper, but I did enjoy his analysis of my usage of Santa Muerte.

The below is an excerpt from Armando Rubi III’s thesis Santa Muerte: A Transnational Spiritual Movement of the Marginalized.


“The abuse of the power of Santa Muerte for personal gain and nefarious purposes such as drug cartels, violence and criminality is endemic in the media portrayals on either side of the border. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in inner-city Chicago, Cynthia Pelayo has won the International Latino Book Award for her young adult novel, Santa Muerte. The novel centers around Ariana Molina, a young woman whose father works for the authorities in Mexico combating the drug cartels. “Ari” begins to have visions and dreams of Santa Muerte and finds herself being targeted and kidnapped by the cartel that seeks to eliminate her father. Throughout the book, Pelayo connects Santa Muerte to the drug cartels yet at the same time criticizes how the system of belief has been corrupted and abused. In a flashback, Ari’s mother states:


Santa Muerte wants to be worshiped and praised and she has found that in the people on the edge; prostitutes, drug dealers, thieves and murders [sic]. They have brought the passion that she has longed for since the conquerors left. Lust, power, death, and revenge. These are the things she oversees and these are the things that her followers are begging for Ari, 32 but I want you to beware. There are those who abuse their gods. There are those who do not know for what they ask because they think that their earthly indulgences are all that matters, but the gods are no fools. Our god of death is commanded by no one. (181)


Ari’s mother has restated that the marginalized are the people that Santa Muerte attracts yet is highlighting the criminal or illegal practices of the marginalized. Prostitutes or thieves may not be violent wrong-doers, but their activities are considered illegal and on the fringes of society, highlighting their criminality both in the present and the colonial experience.


It is to be noted, however, that there is a criticism of those who abuse Santa Muerte’s gifts. In the conclusion of the novel, Santa Muerte herself recruits Ari as her agent among the living and tells her: “You will find my betrayers, find my detractors. I’ve been abused long enough by the living. The living do not command me. I command the living and I want death to those who have abused my powers and my strengths” (221). Pelayo has clearly constructed a unique Santa Muerte worldview in her novel, having a young girl serve as her living agent. Santa Muerte states that she wants death to those who have abused her, signifying that she alone does not choose who dies. The more neutral or benevolent beliefs of Santa Muerte are that God the Father is who decides when it is a person’s time to die and that Santa Muerte is only the messenger who claims the soul. The more malevolent beliefs of Santa Muerte–which Pelayo insinuates in her novel is abuse of the religious system–do teach that if devotees are sincere and make adequate offerings, they can persuade Santa Muerte to kill or cause harm to an enemy.”

Now contributing for TheRichest.Com

I haven’t written much journalism and I missed it. I missed researching and writing articles. So, I’m  back to writing articles thanks  to

My first few articles are available to read. I aim to submit 4 articles per month. So, please read my articles and let me know what you think over at twitter @cinapelayo.

10 Great Places to Visit for Dark Tourism

10 Shocking Movies That Are Said To Be Cursed



Beyond  the Written Word

The publisher of Post Mortem Press, Eric Beebe, approached me the other day to see if I would be interested in being a co-host on a podcast. I was totally all for it. I was honesty just honored that he thought I knew enough about the publishing and writing world and that my opinion mattered enough to share it. So, I said yes. Our fellow co-host is Brad Carter who has written quite a few books. See here. Brad lives in Arkansas where he works in a library and I’ve never spoken with him much before, but I really do enjoy his thoughts and opinions.


Our first show can be heard at the link below. I enjoyed speaking with them and enjoyed the topics we discussed. Among the topics we discussed for our first show was Amazon’s updated pay out criteria for authors, Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman and whether or not formal training helps a writer.


I look forward to chatting more with these guys in the future, as well as other authors and publishers.


Let me know what you think of the show on twitter @cinapelayo.


Episode 1: Beyond the Written Word Podcacst




#100HorrorMoviesfor100Days Day 24



Day 24: The Amityville Horror (1979)
Writer: Screenplay Sandor Stern, based on the book by Jay Anson
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Year released: 1979


The Amityville Horror is like The Exorcism for me in that the very first time I saw each I felt like I was punched in the stomach. I watched The Amityville Horror for the first time when I was a kid with my cousin. My cousin needed to make a point throughout the film to remind me each time something terrifying happened that the movie was based on true events. Honestly, no one knows exactly what happened those 28 days the Lutz family lived in the home. Both George and Kathy Lutz are dead and the only people who remain are their now adult children. One son appeared in a documentary, seeming tortured by both the events in the home and the follow up media attention. Regardless of what actually happened in the home we can at least say that the Lutz family believe something demonic plagued them for nearly a month.


Overview: A couple moves into their new home with their children and soon after they are plagued with violent manifestations related to a previous series of murders in the home.

  1. Both leads in the film went on record saying they did not believe the account given by the Lutz family.
  2. The studio fabricated stories of strange occurrences happening on set in order to increase public interest in the film.
  3. The movie was originally scheduled to be a made for TV movie until the rights of Jay Anson’s book were purchased.
  4. Rumors maintained that the film crew were too frightened of the home to film actual scenes there. The truth is the town of Amityville did not allow any portion of the movie to be filmed within their area in order to distance themselves from the occurrences.
  5. The famed evil eye windows of the house were replaced with standard windows and all tenants to this day after the Lutz family have reported no activity.

#100HorrorMoviesfor100Days Day 23



Day 23: Re-Animator
Writer: Screenplay by Stuart Gordon, based on the story Herbert West-Reanimator by H.P. Lovecraft
Director: Stuart Gordon
Year released: 1985


I first watched this movie on late night television when I was a kid. It pretty much disturbed me so much that I still have a slight aversion to zombies. Maybe it’s not an aversion so much as an annoyance and I know that by writing that the zombie fandom may now have turned their back on me. Look, zombies are fine. I get it, zombies occupy this space between horror and sci-fi, but honestly I’ve never been much into sci-fi. Sci-fi is either your thing or not. It’s hard to let sci-fi grow on you. My preference of the zombie narrative is the traditional Vodou zombie. I can watch something on Vodou zombies all day, but put on the Walking Dead and I’ll tune out in about 10 minutes. I honestly just don’t care. I’m not scared of a bumbling monster. They’re just no fun. There are few exceptions to the zombie genre that I enjoy: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, H.P. Lovecraft’s Herbert West-Renaimator, George Romero’s original Night of the Living Dead and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. Any narrative beyond those involving the zombie are just not gripping enough to capture my attention. Now, this movie is special mainly because it does have some b-movie quirkiness to it, and the gore is outstanding. Am I happy I rewatched it? Definitely. But I have had enough of reanimated corpses for at least a few films.


Overview: A medical student conducts strange experiments on the reanimation of dead tissue.

  1. The movie is loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft’s story, Herbert West-Reanimator.
  2. Meat products and lots of fake blood were used for some of the scenes.
  3. Glow stick liquid was used for the “Re-agent.”
  4. Originally, the creator’s wanted to follow H.P. Lovecraft’s story as closely as possible, but instead it became a parody of Frankenstein.
  5. The sequels Bride of Re-Animator (1990) Beyond Re-Animator (2003) followed.

#100HorrorMoviesfor100Days Day 22



Day 22: Plan 9 From Outer Space
Writer: Ed Wood
Director: Ed Wood
Year released: 1959


As I started watching this I thought ‘Who the hell wrote this thing?’ and now I see it was Ed Wood and it all makes sense. If you don’t know who Ed Wood is Google him. He is a, in a way, the king of camp and cult. This film is often referred to as a cult classic and after watching it I completely agree.


Overview: Aliens resurrect the dead to stop a bomb.

  1. Plan 9 was Bela Lugosi’s last film appearance.
  2. Bela Lugosi wore his own costume, one of the capes from when he portrayed Dracula.
  3. Plan 9 has been called one of the worst films ever made, and that distinction may have generated its cult-like following.
  4. A few actors and film crew tried to distance themselves from involvement with the film after its release.
  5. Ed Wood maintained that he was most proud of this project.

#100HorrorMoviesfor100Days Day 21



Day 21: The Amityville Horror (2005)
Writer: Scott Kosar (Screenplay), Jay Anson (novel)
Director: Andrew Douglas
Year released: 2005


I remember watching the original 1979 The Amityville Horror in my cousin Nancy’s room. I was probably 10, or younger. I was terrified, and I was completely convinced that what I was watching was based on 100% fact because that’s what my older cousin told me. The scene with the priest blessing the home was terrifying. Any scene with George Lutz losing his mind was terrifying. I couldn’t sleep that night, certain that there was a big possibility that there was an Indian burial ground beneath my house and that something similar to Amityville was going to happen. Now, I like many people who watched the 1979 version watched the 2005 version. I saw the remake in the theater, and it was not terrifying. It wasn’t terrifying for many reasons; first, I watch a lot of horror movies, second, I was not a 10 year-old in my cousin’s room, and finally, I was pretty certain there was no Indian burial ground beneath my current home. I also couldn’t shake Ryan Reynolds playing George Lutz. Reynolds seemed so wrong for this part. Regardless, the most interesting part of the movie is the supposed strange events surrounding the actual filming.


Overview: A couple and their children move into a home where the previous family was murdered, and they are quickly terrorized by the house.

  1. The body of a fisherman washed up next to the house where filming was to take place.
  2. Kathy Lutz died while the movie was being filmed. George Lutz died shortly after the film was released.
  3. Ryan Reynolds reported waking up at the same time of night that George Lutz reported waking up, terrorized by the house.
  4. Members of the film crew reported disturbances and an overall ‘creepy’ feeling while filming.
  5. Actress Melissa George’s accounts vary. In some interviews she claims she experienced no paranormal experiences, while in others she claims she did.

#100HorrorMoviesfor100Days Day 20

Day 20: The Smiley Face Killers
Writer: Andrew Fitzgerald
Director: Andrew Fitzgerald
Year released: 2014


Google the “Smiley Face Murders” and you will find countless articles, theories, urban legends, and potential conspiracies that will leave you feeling overwhelmingly paranoid. If you’re an adult male living within the Northeast or Midwest you may also hesitate before walking home alone at night, especially when nearby a body of water. I’ve been obsessed with this urban legend for a few years now, and while doing some research found this “documentary.” Spoiler alert, it’s Blair Witch meets a serial killer, which I found entertaining. The movie is available to watch on YouTube here:



Overview: A documentary filmmaker is making a film about a suspected serial killer and the killer finds out.

  1. The movie depicts the urban legend of the smiley face murders.
  2. The movie may disappoint some who are hoping that it’s a true documentary of these suspicious deaths.
  3. There are both professional and amateur detectives who remain actively committed to solving these deaths.
  4. Many of the cases that have been fictionalized here are real cases, and some of these deaths remain under investigation.
  5. Some suspect that there are too many actual deaths to be a coincidence, and too many to be attributed to one person. The film fictionalizes the deaths as being committed by a gang.

#100HorrorMoviesfor100Days Day 19



Day 19: We Need to Talk About Kevin
Writer: Lynne Ramsay (screenplay), Lionel Shriver (novel)
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Year released: 2011


I already knew the premise of this film before going into it. I have not read Lionel Shriver’s novel, but when it was released in 2003 it caused a lot of good noise, including winning several awards. For those of you unaware of the book or movie it’s really difficult to discuss either without delving into what it’s about, so spoiler alert: the novel and movie are about a fictional school massacre and both are told from the mother’s perspective.


Overview: A mother knows that there is something wrong with her son, he is cold, combative and angry, and as he grows up his behavior only intensifies until it culminates in horror.


I don’t want to write 5 trivia points about this movie as I have done for the others.  That just doesn’t feel right here. Instead I just want to write about how the film made me feel.


I was lucky in that when I was a teenager mass shootings in schools was unheard of. While I did grow up, and still live, in inner city Chicago our fears were very different back then; perhaps getting beat up by a bully or something like that. Otherwise, guns were not things we feared, because guns were just not brought into educational institutions. The images of teenagers rushing out of Columbine High School in 1999 when two of their classmates began their shooting rampage are seared into my memory. Since then mass shootings have too often been part of our discussion, because since Columbine mass shootings have occurred in schools, movie theaters, military bases, shopping malls…


Now, while watching this movie the anxiety was turned up high. The film is not told linearly. Instead, it’s up to the viewer to piece together why Eva lives alone, why Eva was slapped by a woman who passed her on the sidewalk, why Eva’s home has been spray painted red, why Eva, who was once a high powered career woman, is thankful to be given a low-level job at a store front travel agency. We eventually meet Kevin and we see how he is cruel from a young age.


We Need to Talk About Kevin is not a supernatural horror movie, it’s also not a slasher horror film. It’s the gut-wrenching telling of what happens to those whom horrible things happened to. Perhaps this movie hit me hard because I’m now the mother of a son and I wonder if I were an Eva would I react differently if I found my son acting violently from a young age? Perhaps the film also hit me hard because I remember watching those breaking news images of those teenagers rushing out of Columbine High School, a place they once thought was safe, with their arms held high. Something changed that day, and I don’t know what it is, but what’s certain is horrible things similar to Columbine have continued to happen, and I wonder how many Eva’s are out there and how many more there will be.



#100HorrorMoviesfor100Days Day 18



Day 18: Martyrs
Writer: Pascal Laugier
Director: Pascal Laugier
Year released: 2008


I had seen this movie’s name pop up on one of those best-horror-movies-you-have-not-seen-lists some time ago. The list included a few seconds of the opening: A young girl in torn, bloodied clothes running through an industrial part of town. For much of the beginning of the film you believe this is another one of those female objectification movies, which quite frankly I find lazy and in poor taste. The movie certainly took a turn into an area I would never have imagined. Telling you what that turn is would be spoiling what sets this horror film apart from so many. It’s worth a watch, but I warn you, this movie does have heavy elements of torture horror. It’s hard to watch at points, and I admit to pausing it to take a walk through the house and clear my head before returning. The film is French so be prepared for subtitles.


Overview: A young woman searches and finds the people who held and tortured her as a young girl, but we learn that world of torture is much more sinister and deprave than imagined, and that there is a purpose behind the pain.

  1. Pascal Laugier admitted that he was inspired, in part, by Hostel (2005).
  2. Many movie studios turned the movie down.
  3. It was difficult to find actresses to play the lead because of the level of violence it depicts.
  4. The movie is considered to fall into the category of New French Extremity movement.
  5. The film is in talks for an American remake.