Help and Hear a Writer about Spain/Ayuda a un escritor sobre España

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Off I go again, time to write another book. In fact, I have three projects on the go at the moment, but it’s time to knuckle down and finish (read: start) Death in the Valencian Dust. This project was planned and researched long ago, and now it’s time to start the first draft of this story, the third book in the Secrets of Spain series. Even though I have all this well in hand, I am putting out a request for assistance for any of the following –

Any photos of Valencia and Madrid in 1975 – people, buildings, anything big or small

Newspaper articles relating to ETA in 1975

Coverage of Franco’s death in 1975

Any tidbit in relation to the assassination of Luis Carrero Blanco in 1973

Pretty much anything about the Movimiento Nacional

Bullfighting photographs from the late 60’s and through the 70’s

The execution of Catalan anarchist Salvador Puig Antich in 1974

Any piece of information is useful, no matter how simple. While I have already been studying all these subjects, sometimes the most helpful tips come from others. Be it a photo, link to an article, either one or one hundred pages long, anything would be much appreciated from all the fine Spain lovers out there. Everyone who helps will of course be acknowledged in the book.

I get asked often how the process of booking writing goes. I can only speak for myself, so throughout this book I will be tweeting each day I work, and what I managed to achieve (or not achieve). I will use the hashtag #ValencianDust in my tweets (even if just so I can keep track of my own progress!). I will start tomorrow, September 8, day 1 of the project. I was meant to start last week but an emergency situation got in the way. Let’s see if I can start on a high, since I am also starting my Spanish language studies again (God knows my nerves when speaking Spanish hinder my ability to ever progress).

Thank you!

Tiempo para escribir otro libro. De hecho, tengo tres proyectos en marcha en este momento, pero es hora de que los nudillos hacia abajo y acabado  Muerte en el polvo Valenciana. Me estoy poniendo a cabo una solicitud de asistencia por cualquier de los siguientes –

Las fotos de Valencia y Madrid en 1975 – las personas, edificios, cualquier

Los artículos de prensa relacionados con ETA en 1975

La cobertura de la muerte de Franco en 1975

Cualquier dato en relación con el asesinato de Luis Carrero Blanco en 1973

Casi cualquier cosa sobre el Movimiento Nacional

Tauromaquia fotografías de los años 60 e 70

La ejecución del anarquista catalán Salvador Puig Antich en 1974

Cualquier pieza de información es útil, no importa cuán simple. he estado estudiando todos estos temas, a veces los consejos más útiles provienen de otros. Ya sea una foto, enlace a un artículo, ya sea uno o cien páginas, nada sería muy apreciada. Todo el que ayuda, por supuesto, ser reconocido en el libro.

Gracias!

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PART 3: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A

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)

Twitter: Writer_Caroline

Pinterest: WriterCaroline

Tumblr: Duende Lover

Google+ : Caroline Angus Baker

Book Links:

US – Caroline Angus Baker

UK  – Caroline Angus Baker

New Zealand (paperback only) Caroline Angus Baker 

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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

Happy Birthday To (Writing) Me!

Hold the candles – it’s not my actual birthday (that’s November 5, you still have time to lovingly wrap my gifts).  Today is a birthday of another kind. Backtrack four years, and I was completing my Diploma of Business, which bored me to the back teeth. As much as I enjoy the aspect of running a business, a job most likely in an office was never going to make me happy. Ever. Everyone thought me mad to want to work in a sail loft, but the practical element spoke to me.

Four years ago, I met a Spanish man here in Auckland, and naturally the subject turned to his country that I love so much. I had already learned much about Spain’s 20th century (and earlier) history, and his story inspired me. I logged the info away, along with the info of my missing great-grandfather, and the story of a New Zealand nurse I had been reading up on around the same time. Then I discovered the ultimate time-suck for any woman at home with babies – online fiction. A few reads and I thought (in a fit of self-righteousness) ‘I could do a better job than this. Writing is a piece of cake. I’ll just write a story about Spanish Civil War graves.’ And ta-da, on October 25, 2009, I started posting online fiction. Luna Montgomery was born.

Oh, it’s that easy to be a writer? Yes and no. Any hack can write. Anyone can post online. Boom – writer. Doing it well is another story. I started writing creatively twenty years ago, but with teen years filled with dreams of sailing and then fending for myself at 17 trying to make it as a sailmaker, writing never got much of a chance. Enter adulthood, marriage, children – the storylines were still going around, but no outlet until late 2009. 

While I plodded along with blog posting for several years, it wasn’t until October 2012 that the book inspired by a kiwi nurse, my missing great-grandfather, a civil war grave and the story of a random Spanish guy was published, Blood in the Valencian Soil. Until then, around 4,000 people followed my In the Hands of Love blog (the prelude to the books) and I love each and every one of you for all the support. My three-part Secrets of Spain book series Blood in the Valencian Soil, Vengeance in the Valencian Water, and Death in the Valencian Dust was made easier with your support.

In 2010 I started on a different project, to encapsulate and destroy all the things about storylines that I don’t like. Females characters so often get a bad run in books and films. They are often (but not always!) the victims, sidekicks, sex objects, weaklings, gold-diggers. There aren’t many good quality female villains, and too many stories end with everyone happy and evil defeated. So I set out to online post Canna Medici in Nights Wants to Forget, which got 100,000 reads in 10 months. Nothing angers people faster than drugs, abortion and euthanasia. I quickly adapted it and published the book in late 2011 and is still my best selling book of my published works. With the sequel Violent Daylight out a few months ago, things are looking better than ever. I wrote that book in record time, and the Canna series has no weight of expectation on me. My Secrets of Spain has a huge weight of expectation on it. No one has tried to point out anything in terms of historical accuracy yet, so I’m taking that as a sign Blood in the Valencian Soil is all it needs to be.

So, after four years of full-time dedication and three, soon to be four, books released, I finally feel like I can legitimately say I’m an author for the first time. I wrote it on my departure card at an Australian airport last week and the guy asked ‘what do you write?’ ‘I write historical fiction based on the Spanish civil war and following Spanish dictatorship.’ The guy went a bit bug-eyed for a moment. Let’s just say I have a niche going in this part of the world.

What am I doing to celebrate?

Excellent question – by giving more to you out there. I have not posted any online fiction in a year, and I miss it. Giving out work in that form gives me instant feedback from readers in the comments section/twitter. Plus, it gives me time to flex my writing muscle (as it were) when I want to write but feel a bit stuck. Rather than my In the Hands of Love style of writing (which ended up at 300 chapters!), I will write stand-alone short pieces of fiction to enjoy. There will be a theme that runs through them, but you can stop by and read any time without getting lost.

More?

Indeed there is. Each week I will be reviewing one Hemingway book of my choosing. Many people know the man but not the work and I will be digging in and giving you a review of his writing. We will start the next week with one of my personal favourites Death in the Afternoon. The fact I fell asleep while re-reading it on a train from Barcelona to Valencia was not the book’s fault, I swear. It was the porrón from the night before that did it.

I also have some other book reviews to post – Jeremy Treglown’s Franco’s Crypt, and Henry Buckley’s The Life and Death of the Spanish Republic (which took me forever to finish). I have read a lot of books on Spain, fiction and non-fiction. I assumed many people interested in the subject have also read them (think Paul Preston or Gerald Brenan’s backlist for example), but I am beginning to find I am ahead of others. If there is a book you are interested in reading, or don’t have time for and want a synopsis posted, let me know I will add it to my book review posts. My bookshelf crying under its own weight will be happy to share.

One more thing, purely out of interest, I would like to know what (if any) of my writing that you read. Multiple answers are an option. Help out your Spain obsessed blogger and leave your feedback.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read my work in any form

(and thanks random Spanish guy, you know who you are)

If you haven’t already, here is an interview with me talking about coming up with Luna Montgomery on Talk Radio Europe. (I’m surprised how many people have listened to be honest!)