Ildefonso Falcones: “If ‘Cathedral of the Sea’ had not been published, I could not have done the same effort again”
A week before Ildefonso Falcones’ third novel ‘The Barefoot Queen’ goes on sale, CNA interviews the Barcelona lawyer that became internationally acclaimed in 2006 thanks to his best-selling debut ‘Cathedral of the Sea’. The novel, set in medieval Barcelona sold seven million copies in 40 countries and introduced him to the literature scene as one of the main Spanish authors of historical novels. Now, on the 21st of February, he will publish his third book, which will be on sale simultaneously in Spain, Latin America and the United States. Falcones explains what writing means to him as well as the difficulties of the creative process.
Barcelona (CNA).– Ildefonso Falcones, lawyer by profession, became an internationally acclaimed writer at the age of 50 thanks to his best-selling debut ‘Cathedral of the Sea’ in 2006. The novel, set in medieval Barcelona sold seven million copies in 40 countries and introduced him to the literature scene as one of the main Spanish authors of historical novels. Now, on the 21st of February, he will publish his third book ‘The Barefoot Queen’ that will be on sale simultaneously in Spain, Latin America and the United States.
Q.- A lawyer by profession decides to write a novel entitled ‘Cathedral of the Sea’, and suddenly becomes an international best-selling author. How do you explain that?
First of all, this is not my first novel. Rather it is the first that has been published. I was in the right place at the right time. That’s all. Also, the novel turned out to be very attractive to the reader. That was the clue to its success.
Q. -So you have written books that have never been published?
Yes, I have some of them in the drawer. But I don’t think I’m ever going to publish them because they are not historical novels.
Q.- Why do you tend towards historical novels?
I’ve always liked reading this kind of genre and therefore I decided to set the ‘Cathedral of the Sea’ in a splendid period for Barcelona, the 14th century. This is now my genre, and I believe that when something works there is no reason to change it.
Q.- Has the success of the ‘Cathedral of the Sea’ encouraged you to write other novels?
This book took me five years of hard work. During the whole process doubts came to my mind constantly as I thought “what I am doing with my time”. If it hadn’t been published, I don’t think I could have made the same effort again.
Q.- Taking into account that you have kept up your profession as a lawyer, what does writing mean to you?
There is a moment when writing becomes a job. As time goes by, you change things, rip up others and start again. There are writers who say that they cry or laugh while they write, but they live in a parallel world and don’t come into contact with the reality of life and the everyday problems of people. For me, being a lawyer is a way to come down to earth, like a therapy. Enthusiasm is always needed, but not excessive passion.
Q.- Where does the passion for writing come from?
It is something that has been developing over the years, like everything in life. However, there are only a few ways of expressing what you feel inside and I chose writing.
Q.- How do you gather information together to base the story on real facts?
It is like an inverted pyramid. Once I know exactly what to write about, I start to look up details in history books such as clothes or hairstyle to fill the script and set the scene for the novel. However, there is a lot of imagination as well. If the entire novel is fiction, you can do whatever you want. Otherwise, you have to imagine much more in order to fit each event in the historic and real calendar.
Q.- What do you seek with your third book?
I only want people to be amused. That is what I like to find in a novel: entertainment. When I read I don’t ask for a lesson of love, morality, hatred or death.
Q. - But it must have different ingredients from the other novels...
The same as always: sex, love, violence, money, betrayal, passion, revenge, friendship, etc. These are the feelings that people usually relate to and which must be developed to build a novel.