Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your novel, Making Mulaka: A Mexican Tale of Video Games and the Mighty Tarahumara! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Christian Cardenas: The book, at its core, is a David and Goliath story about how a team of eight developers in Mexico made their indie hit, Mulaka. With little to no infrastructure in their home state of Chihuahua, they were able to overcome tremendous obstacles with the most unlikeliest of solutions. Despite their several hurdles, they managed to land their game on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, simultaneously, a first for any Mexican developer. Perhaps the biggest reason why they’ve seen so much success for a small team is that their game is based on the Tarahumara natives, whom they live amongst in Mexico. With permission and partial direction from the indigenous people themselves, they made a video game that honors and celebrates the culture.
As a Latin American gamer, authentic Mexican representation in video games is something that’s alien to me. When I heard about the studio and their efforts, I knew I had to champion their story so that others could get inspired. It’s important for me to be a part of this cultural shift that’s calling for more diverse narratives to exist in the games industry. It’s all really quite exciting and a pleasure to finally see.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process, and what have been some of your creative influences?
CC: I dedicated my entire summer to researching the team and writing their story as accurately as I could. I relied on video recordings, audio recordings, and the notes scrawled hastily in my notebook. Piecing everything together in a way that’s both true and entertaining was quite challenging, and it was something I’d never done. I’d spend my days writing and take the nights off like a regular 9-5. The routine was what actually kept me going. As for inspiration, I actually stayed away from anything that might inadvertently influence my style in a way I didn’t like. So I was basically going it alone the whole time.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
CC: First and foremost, I hope readers will enjoy the story from an entertainment level. It really is quite fascinating and preposterous just how things worked out for this team. Beyond that I want people to come away from this narrative with an appreciation for the efforts that people are willing to endure to make video games viable in countries other than the U.S, Japan, and a few other prominent countries. The grassroots movers and shakers in countries like Mexico is truly inspirational. Lastly, I also want people to learn a bit about the Tarahumara, their history, and the fact that they’re still a part of living Mexican culture.
BD: Do you have additional novels planned on this topic, or will this be a standalone book?
CC: This will be a standalone book; however, Select Start Press has openly discussed making more books like this that examine independent studios and share their unique stories.
BD: Making Mulaka is one of many titles published through Select Start Press. As the co-founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief, what can you tell us about the other titles in your catalog?
CC: Our previous release, Heroines of Gaming, is a great anthology that looks at female character representation in video games. With a diverse set of writers, including The Guardian’s Keza Macdonald, it offers an academic introspection to several famous characters we know and love. Characters covered in the book range from Zelda to Carmen Sandiego.
What Your Teachers Are Playing was our first title. It’s also an anthology. It’s a fun survey of sorts that takes one professor and has them analyzing the game of their choice. Each essay is written with a different style that reflects different schools of thought. Some of the games covered within its pages are Street Fighter V, Fallout 4, and Firewatch.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
CC: At the moment, we’ll be in full promotion mode for Making Mulaka as we want as many people as possible to read this fascinating story. Co-Founder Dylan Altman is, however, working on book centered on parents who are gamers and navigating that tenuous territory. As a new father myself, I can’t wait to read it!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Making Mulaka: A Mexican Tale of Video Games and the Mighty Tarahumara?
CC: The most immediate way to stay tuned is to follow us on Twitter (@selectstartpres) for updates on release and promo events. Be sure to also check selectstartpress.com for photos of our trip to Mexico and check out our online store for our other titles, available now.