Wednesday, October 29, 2008

La Catedral del Mar, by Idelfonso Falcones

Spaniard sees historical novel as escape from modern life
28 October 2008
EFE News Service

The Spaniard who wrote "La Catedral del Mar" (Cathedral of the Sea), a best-seller set in medieval Catalonia, said here that the popularity of the historical novel today is due to the public's need to escape the 'saturation" of news and current events.

Idelfonso Falcones, a 49-year-old practicing attorney, traveled to Toronto to take part in the annual International Festival of Authors. "The historical novel has always had its attractions. Today more than ever. But if we look for the reason I believe that people are pretty saturated with modern, contemporary situations. If you go to the movies you'll find very few historical films," he said in an interview with Efe.

The writer also said that he has to limit himself when he sits down to write and that he finds creative work easy. "I not only find it easy but enjoyable, which is the important thing. I've always thought that we all have to develop an intellectual interest different from the one that puts food on the table but stresses us out and has us working 14 hours a day," the author said. "In my case it's writing. I have always seen writing as a way to channel that intellectual yearning. I don't think stress can be relieved by punishing the body, and that's from someone who has done a lot of sports, horseback riding above all," he said.

Falcones, who heads a law firm with offices in Barcelona and Madrid, said that despite the success of "La Catedral del Mar," which has sold more than 2 million copies, and of having a contract for a second novel, his daily routine has scarcely changed.

Falcones writes in the morning before going to the office. "I don't allow myself to do it in the office, because if I write in the office I won't do any work. And often it's hard to stop writing at nine in the morning. You have to stick to your time schedule because otherwise I could be writing and rewriting all morning without working."

The only change is that instead of the hour a day he spent writing "La Catedral del Mar," the author now allows himself two hours "and sometimes three." But Falcones said that it is a constant battle with his professional and family responsibilities.
"When I go on vacation it's impossible to write. I have four kids and if it isn't the beach its the bicycles. It's impossible."

About the origin of "La Catedral del Mar," Falcones explained that "at a certain moment" he wanted to write a historical novel. "I like all kinds of novels but especially historical ones," he said. "When it's true and reflects real historical events, it gets very interesting. When one has very little time the most practical thing is to choose your own city as the background. The fact is that Barcelona is an attractive city about which no historical novel had been written. The oldest settings were from the 19th century, but nothing ancient."

Falcones acknowledged that he had a hard time getting his book published. "All the publishers, the eight or nine biggest publishing houses rejected it," he recalled. "In the end it was the same old thing - through a friend of a friend of a friend you get into the circuit, you sign with a literary agent, and from the time you get your foot in the door of this very closed world, from that time on everything starts to function. But if you don't find that opening, you don't get in," he said.

On the subject of his next novel, Falcones was discreet, but said that he was working on another historical novel, although he wasn't sure when it would be published.