Antonio Ruiz-Camacho’s Barefoot Dogs is an unforgettable collection of stories that follow the members of a wealthy Mexican family forced into exile after the patriarch is kidnapped. We asked Ruiz-Camacho to share a picture of his writing space in his home in Austin.
I usually get up around 4:55 and take the stairs quietly, so I don’t wake my family. The first thing I do in the kitchen is light three tea candles for those in our family who are no longer with us. Next, I pour myself a cup of coffee in that big, sturdy mug you can see in the picture. At the Paisano Ranch, where I was a fellow last year and where I completed Barefoot Dogs, there was an identical mug decorated with the letter Z. I’ve always thought ZZ Packer, who was a fellow the year before, must have left it behind, but I’m not sure. Inspired by my admiration of ZZ’s stunning, masterful collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, I used that mug during my time at Paisano. When we left the ranch, my wife gave me an identical mug as a gift, decorated with my initial. I don’t consider myself superstitious, but that mug is a lucky charm to me—I have to use it every morning. The table and the chairs we have in the kitchen were bought at Ikea. I’ve discovered that uncomfortable chairs are best for writing—they keep me alert. I start writing around 5:10 and stop around 7:15, to get the whole family off to work and school. Later, I’ll return to the kitchen and resume writing, but my favorite—and more productive writing time–is that first stretch in the dark morning. Nothing moves, nothing makes a sound, and I’m not fully awake yet. At that eerie hour, I’m not wholly conscious of what I’m writing. I’m not in control, and I like that.