As you know I’ve been sharing interviews with writers who usually publish their books in Spanish but who have now had one or several or their novels translated to English. Today I have as a guest Armando Rodera one of the authors who first discovered the possibilities of self-publishing his work, and who has lived through many changes in publishing. But I’ll let him tell us all about it.
I was born in Madrid in 1972, and I became a voracious reader from a very young age. I studied Telecommunications and IT, and worked for a decade in the technological sector until I decided to go into literature.
Pioneer of digital publishing in Spain, I landed in Amazon in 2011. Since then and in the last four years, I’ve become the published author of El color de la maldad (Color of Evil), a bestseller police-thriller that was my first publication, La rebeldía del alma (The Rebellion of the Soul), an intimate thriller that has been global number 1 in Amazon Spain, Juego de Identidades (Game of Identities), novel of action and adventures, and Caos absoluto (Absolute Chaos), a dystopian police thriller. I also have a non-fiction work, La llave del éxito (The Key to Success). I’ve published all these titles independently in Amazon.
My first traditionally published work was El enigma de los vencidos (The enigma of the defeated), a mystery novel with a historical background that was published by Ediciones B in 2012. In 2014 Thomas & Mercer published the English version of El color de la maldad, which has been very successful in the USA, UK and Canada.
I’m also editorial reader, manager of content and freelance consultor in projects of marketing online and new technologies applied to the publishing sector.
When and how did you start writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a small child, either handwritten letters or short tales. When I was 11 or 12 I won a writing competition at school. After that, once at college, I dared to write some nonsense that was soon forgotten. It wasn’t until the end of 2003, a period with numerous changes in my life, not only personal, but also with regards to my family and my profession, that I decided to take the plunge and I started on my first novel, El enigma de los vencidos. An inflection point that was also greatly influenced by my reading the fantastic La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind), by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I told myself that someday I also wanted to write a great work and if I could ever managed to make one of my possible future readers feel even a tenth of what I had felt when reading that novel I’d be more than satisfied.
Describe your experience as an independent writer.
I wrote my first two novels between 2004 and 2007. After that I went through all the stages that any new writer has tried in order to get his works published: submit to book awards, send the manuscripts to agencies and publishing companies, etc. I even had a contract signed with a company that self-published books in paper, but finally that was rescinded for a variety of reasons. Finally I gave up trying to follow the usual routes of the sector and decided to publish in Amazon in July 2011, when a lot of people didn’t even know of the existence of the KDP platform for authors.
In a few months my life changed completely. El color de la maldad very soon became a bestseller in America and El enigma de los vencidos did the same in the Brand-new Kindle store in Spain. That novel was then taken up by Ediciones B, but I continued to publish on my own, and I even manage to reach the global number one in Amazon.es with La rebeldía del alma and many successes with my other works.
Then came the launching in the Anglo-Saxon market of Color of Evil and that was the fulfilment of another dream of any writer. Digital technology and Amazon Kindle Store have allowed me to reach dozens of thousands of readers all over the world and this is something that I could never have imagined when I started writing my first book.
What has been the best moment of your career as a writer so far?
At the beginning of 2012, Ediciones B and B de Books pushed for a new model, and trusted authors that were practically unknown to the great public, but who had been successful with their digital novels. That group of authors that I was a part of appeared in several national newspapers and magazines in Spain (El País, El Mundo, El Periódico de Cataluña, Tiempo, Interviú, etc) and we had great media repercusion.
Shortly after that, our novels were presented in an incomparable setting, the Feria del Libro de Madrid (The Book Fair of Madrid), in the well-known Parque del Retiro (Retiro Park) of Madrid. In my case I was lucky enough to be signing books for two days at that Book Fair, some memorable afternoons I’ll remember forever. Also, the book was distributed throughout the whole of Spain and some American countries with a great reception. Of course, it’s a wonderful feeling to find your own novel on the new books exhibits in the bookshops. I’ll always have a wonderful memory of that experience and I hope to repeat it again in the near future.
What’s your favourite genre (both as reader and as writer).
When I was a young child I fell in love with the novels of Alexandre Dumas and Jules Verne, adventures that have marked me forever. After that, already at high school, I became familiar with the works of Stephen King, who has become one of my favourite authors. Among the writers of detective stories I can’t forget Conan Doyle and his wonderful Sherlock Holmes. And much later I lost myself in Daniel Sempere’s stories, and his Cementerio de los libros olvidados (Cemetery of Forgotten Books), a crucial moment in deciding to dedicate myself to writing.
In general I enjoy thrillers, detective and police stories, adventures, intrigue and also historical novels or even horror novels. I’m an avid reader and I devour between 60 and 80 books per year. I love to read. I can mention many names: John Grisham, F. Forsyth, Ken Follet, Preston & Child, S. King, David Baldacci or Dean Koontz, among others. And of course, Spanish authors as popular as: Pérez Reverte, Almudena Grandes or Matilde Asensi, although in the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of personally meeting and enjoying the books of a new batch of Spanish writers creating new works today, in paper as well as in digital formats, that perhaps aren’t quite as well known to the big public.
That as a reader. As a writer I also tend to write in the same genres. Definitely, action and intrigue novels, thrillers, if we want to define them that way, but always with something else: drama, mystery, police procedural elements, some romance, a historical or suspenseful background. I like to fuse genres.
What made you decide to translate your work? And how did you find a translator?
My novels have been very well received in the States from the moment I started on my digital adventure, and that was why I wanted to reach the Anglo-Saxon market. I studied the possibility of getting one of my books translated independently, but the costs were prohibitive for me or the quality of the work offered for me to sample did not convince me, and I parked the project for a while.
Then I heard about the possibility of sending a proposal to Amazon Publishing, the editorial arm of Amazon. That’s what I did with my novel El color de la maldad, and to my surprise, in less than two months they decided to send me a contract for the book. They got it translated and published it in 2014 under Thomas & Mercer’s company, the publisher of the group specialising in thrillers and mystery novels.
Color of Evil has been number 1 for several weeks in the Police procedural category in the Canada Kindle Store, and also Top 20 in the category of International thrillers in the United Kingdom. It was also a prominent thriller in that category in Amazon.com, staying in the podium of ‘Mystery and International Crimes’ for several weeks.
Tell us something about your book
The genesis of this novel came in the spring of 2007, when after visiting as an occasional tourist several rural areas in our country; I had the inspiration that they could be the perfect opening point for an unconventional police procedural novel. From then on I began to build up a plot that became more and more similar to the Anglo-Saxon thriller, becoming somewhat detached from the usual canons of the classical noir Spanish crime novel.
What I found more difficult to create was the character of Jason, the psychopath around whom the whole plot revolves. He was the most complex of all the protagonists, due to the complexity of his psyche. I wanted to narrate what the psychopath felt and thought from his own point of view, and it was hard work, and that was why I also explained his childhood and adolescence, the main triggers, but not the only ones that lead him to become a blood-thirsty assassin.
When I started writing I knew the novel would revolve around a serial killer that leaves a trail of crimes throughout the whole of the Spanish geography, but I didn’t have his leitmotif. I had in mind the film Seven or Harris’s novels with Doctor Hannibal Lecter as protagonist, but I had no idea which path the novel would lead me into until I started writing. Later I found a solution that might surprise readers quite a lot.
In the first draft I didn’t name the assassin and the narration became quite complicated at times, especially during his interactions with other characters. I wanted to give him a name he chose himself, Jason, although we don’t get to know the real one until the end, to help with the plot building and to embody on someone concrete the brutality of those criminal acts.
I would never have imagined the reception my novel got, especially in America. “El color de la maldad” was published on Amazon.com in July 2011 and for over three years it has been the best-selling police procedural in Spanish in the American continent, becoming a longseller in América. The reviews and comments about this novel, in both sides of the Atlantic, have been almost unanimous throughout its trajectory, something I’m very proud of. The icing on the cake was a joint reading organised on the net, where 16 blogs agreed to write very positive reviews about this book.
Any advice for your colleague writers (especially new writers)
I don’t feel qualified to give advice; I’m still fighting and learning every day. But to any new writer I would tell him or her that this is a long-distance race, that one must fight for the things one believes in, but also make sacrifices. Read and write every day, learn from those who know more than us and try and improve every day. And above all, to have a polished and as perfect as possible manuscript if they want to publish it through Amazon, with the right formatting and an attractive cover. After that one can do as much promotion as one likes but the readers have the final word and if they don’t like a work, it will all be in vain. We are all different and so are our challenges, but we have the right to fight for our dreams.
Universal link to the book in Amazon: http://mybook.to/ColorofEvil
Author webpage: www.armandorodera.com
Author profile in Amazon: http://Author.to/ArmandoRodera
Book trailer (in Spanish): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5w455O909U
Book review in a blog, in English:
Thanks so much to Armando Rodera for his interview and for sharing his book with us, thanks to all of you for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!