When I put out the call for questions ahead of my Luminous Colours of Dusk book release, inevitably there would be questions about Spain and my books based there. So, here is a Q&A section dedicated to my Secrets of Spain series.
Why write about books based in Spain?
That is a good question. I’m a New Zealander, a baby country with a small but interesting history. To write the story of my family coming out to this pioneering nation from Scotland and Ireland would make a great tale. But when I moved to Spain, the place spoke to me, as it has spoken to so many foreigners over time. I feel a personal connection to the struggles of the country, and the history and politics speaks to me better than my home country. (Though, since it’s election time in New Zealand, I’m pretty outspoken at the moment). You can find a 1001 books based in Madrid, Barcelona, or anywhere in southern Spain, but Valencia sits outside the spotlight. You only have to visit the city to understand how unique it is, and to me, the perfect setting to write books. The history of the place gives so many exciting possibilities.
Why write about the Spanish civil war?
There is no war like the Spanish civil war. There was no one side versus another, rather factions coming together, struggling against the enemy and one another. Nothing is as vicious as a civil war, yet other nations weighed in, while some stayed on the sidelines with their own agendas. Volunteers came to fight and changed the course of the war. While one side defeated the other, and evil won the war, some believe the outcome was a good one. There were no winners in Spain, and the wounds are not fully healed. The multiple facets are what drives my interest.
Out of your Spanish books, who is your favorite character?
Tough question! Luna Montgomery was the first character I ever created, but she has a great supporting cast in Blood in the Valencian Soil and Vengeance in the Valencian Water. I have always enjoyed writing Paco Beltrán, patriarch of the Beltrán Morales bullfighting family. He played a good role in both books, and has a big space in the third book, Death in the Valencian Dust. As evil as he was, I enjoyed also writing José Morales. His transformation from conflicted young officer to evil Francoist was a joy to undertake. I know a lot of people found him hard to stomach, but some really liked him. Scarlett Montgomery was a great character for me, as she was based on a real life New Zealand nurse who defied her country and went to the civil war.
How much research do you do for your Spain-based books?
I lost count of the hours spent researching years ago. I never stop researching – everyday conversations with Spain lovers help me. Even tiny comments can come in handy for minor details. I can often sit down and need a basic piece of info for a chapter and spend all day reading, long forgetting the original point I needed. One day I sat down at my desk at just after 9am, needed a detail on where a bus stop was in 1957, and then my alarm rang to stop writing at 2.45. Somehow, the whole day had disappeared. I never know where I will find helpful information. Between all the books and websites I use, I can be buried in info, much like my desk is. I can’t actually see my desk under all the stuff I have piled up ahead of my next book on Valencia.
I am lucky to be part of #wabas – Writers and Bloggers about Spain. The members are kind enough to let me be part of their group and I can absorb all kinds of information from them, so thanks!
What will the next Luna Montgomery book be about?
(I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible for readers still on books one and two)
Death in the Valencian Dust is another double timeline story, split between 1975 and 2014. At the end of the second book, Cayetano Beltrán asks his uncle Jaime about the time he went to prison in Valencia in 1975. It is centred around the time when Franco dies and King Juan Carlos takes over, and the upheaval Jaime goes through thanks to some dodgy dealings in Valencia. The 2014 timeline sees Cayetano at age 45, facing retirement from bullfighting, while Luna’s life is going in a very different direction. Cayetano is struggling with Luna’s rising career and ambitions while the sun sets on all he has ever known. The Beltrán Morales family has undergone a major upheaval since we saw them in 2010 (cant tell yet!), and in the shadow of King Juan Carlos retiring, they reflect on their family and the loss of all the traditional Spanish ideals they have previously enjoyed.
Have you ever had the desire for Luna Montgomery and Darren James to become a couple?
Pro-cyclist Darren James will be in the third book very prominently, and still rubbing Cayetano Beltrán up the wrong way. The men will find common ground with the changes in their lives and careers, but they are an uneasy alliance with Luna endlessly caught in the middle. Have I had the desire to have Luna and Darren as a couple? Yeah, I have thought about it. There is a lot of logic in a pairing like them. The third book isn’t out yet…
How do you feel about reviews of the series? Do you seek out reviews?
I’m not really comfortable with asking for book reviews. I am pretty happy with the reviews I have received, and get nice little messages via twitter regularly from people who are reading. I write a niche subject so it is easy to get lost in the crush of millions of books to read. I am meticulous with my planning of the series, and that satisfies me personally.
Of all the people you have killed in the series, which was the hardest?
SPOILER ALERT – you may want to skip this bit if you are not finished the books
I have always felt bad about killing Alejandro Beltrán. To me, it was an awful way to die and I feel sorry for writing it. Cayetano Ortega was a tough character to kill as well. In fact, everyone from the first book in the 1939 timeline met a sad end.
Do you have a book planned, away from the Secrets of Spain series?
I do, my long suffering novel based in Spanish civil war slowly continues to grow in size. The book starts in Barcelona 1937 and progresses throughout much of the war, based mostly among the fighting of Madrid, Barcelona and Teruel (and surrounding areas). That will be released after Death in the Valencian Dust, with all new characters from me. The characters are fictional, based on real accounts, and set to the real timeline and outcomes of the war itself.
Do you use social media much for book promotion?
It was be impossible to work without social media, though I have placed a ban on using it on my computer, or I never get any work done. I have broken my bad social media habits. In saying that, you can always catch up with me. Twitter is my preferred medium, much more than Facebook. You can find me –
Website: here obviously carolineangusbaker.com
Facebook: Caroline Angus Baker (subscribe, since I make many public posts)
Tumblr: Duende Lover
Google+ : Caroline Angus Baker
US – Caroline Angus Baker
UK – Caroline Angus Baker
New Zealand (paperback only) Caroline Angus Baker
Part 4 is all the questions about writing, and Part 5 is the first chapter of Luminous Colours of Dusk. Also, there will be a free promotion on Night Wants to Forget and Violent Daylight. Details will in Part 4.
Click here for Part 1 – all about Canna Medici – PART 1: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A
Click here for Part 2 – all about me – PART 2: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A