As promised, today I bring you an interview. If you remember, I brought you Lola Mariné’s book, Havana Jazz Club when it was in pre-order and being shared in Net Galley for early reviews. Now that it has been published, it’s a great chance to have a chat with the author. First, a little information about her:
Lola Mariné is a writer and has a degree in Psychology.
She has taken part in four anthologies of short-stories: Tiempo de Recreo (2008), Dejad que os cuenta algo (2009), Atmósferas (2009) in aid of the Foundation Vicente Ferrer, and Tardes del Laberinto (2011).
Nunca fuimos a Katmandú (We Never Went to Katmandú), her first novel, was published by Viceversa in 2010. Two years later, the author published the e-book herself in Amazon and it became one of the bestselling books in Amazon Spain in 2012.
Gatos por los tejados (Cats on the roof), a book of short stories on varied subjects, was published in 2012 through Amazon.
Habana Jazz Club (Havana Jazz Club) , her second novel, was published in Amazon in 2013 and has been recently translated by AmazonCrossing to English and German.
In 2014 Parnass Publishers launched her book on travel Nepal, cerca de las estrellas (Nepal, close to the stars), also translated to English.
And in 2015 she published a children’s book called Aburrilandia, el país sin libros (Boredomland, the country with no books). She has also recently entered the second Amazon contest for independent books written in Spanish with a thriller El caparazón de la tortuga (The tortoiseshell) that is one of the five finalists. The winner will be announced on the 15th of October.
She is hard at work on a new novel and teaches courses on Creative Writing.
She is the creator of a cultural blog: http://gatosporlostejados.blogspot.com, and has a prominent and active presence in social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
And now, the interview:
When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was eight years old, more or less. Before that I would always tell stories out loud that I would invent them as I went along according to the requests of my listeners: love stories, horror, adventures… My audience used to be my friends and the other girls in the same class in school. The nuns (it was a religious school) would always ask me to tell stories to keep the class under control and quiet when we were doing sewing, crafts and those kinds of things.
I wrote my first novel when I was 12.
How have you found your experience as an independent writer?
The truth is that my first novel, Nunca fuimos a Katmandú, was first published in paper through a traditional publishing company (Viceversa). Luckily I hadn’t sold them the digital rights, and a year after its publication I decided to upload it to Amazon. It became a bestseller and it was one of the books that sold more copies in Spain in 2012. That encouraged me to carry on writing and publishing books and up to now I’ve already published seven. The last one, El caparazón de la tortuga, is a finalist in the 2015 Contest for Independent Writers in Spanish organised by Amazon.
Is there a moment you remember with special affection from your experience as a writer?
Without a doubt when I saw my first novel, Nunca fuimos a Katmandú, published. The day when it reached the bookshops we celebrated it with cava, and afterwards we went to visit the biggest bookshops in Barcelona to enjoy seeing it among the new books in the shelves and take pictures. It was one of the happiest days of my life: a dream come true.
There have also been wonderful moments in my interaction with readers: letters, comments, messages that moved me, where they explained to me their thoughts after reading the novel, their feelings and they also told me they admired my work. Writing is a lonely and uncertain job and obtaining that feedback from the readers is the best reward.
What’s your favourite genre (both as a reader and as a writer)?
I like to write the types of books I enjoy reading: basically stories about women, actual, real, what is called Women’s Fiction. Although in fact, among the seven books I’ve read there have appeared other genres; I have written a travel book (also translated to English), a children’s book and even an erotic novel, and now my last novel is a psychological thriller.
What made you decide to translate your book? And how did you find a translator?
Well, in my case it wasn’t my own decision but Amazon’s. They offered (as a publishing company) to translate Habana Jazz Club to English and German. And with that I also reply to your second question: they found me and they took care of everything.
Tell us something about your book
Habana Jazz Club (Havana Jazz Club, in English) is a love story, but it’s not a romantic novel. Love is force that drive the protagonist throughout her life, but it’s not only romantic love, it’s also the love she feels for her family, for her parents, her son, and her friends, and even for somebody who cannot return her love in the same way. It’s a story of fighting against the odds and courage and a little homage to the great Billie Holliday, whose name is shared by the protagonist.
Any advice for your peer writers (especially for new writers)?
The best advice I can give them is that they should be self-critical and humble. A lot has been said about the ego of the writers and probably there’s some truth in that. We all believe we have written the great work of art the world had been waiting for. But there are many and very good writers. If a publishing company (or several) rejects you, it isn’t because they know nothing about literature or they don’t like you; probably your work isn’t as good as it should be. Carry on working and never give up.
Havana Jazz Club in English: http://mybook.to/Havana
Her books in Amazon: http://xurl.es/hvsjr
Author page in Amazon: https://www.facebook.com/Lola-Marin%C3%A9-escritora-310677882289530/timeline/?ref=hl
I’ve had the pleasure of reading Havana Jazz Club and I leave you my review:
Love doesn’t conquer everything but art is a great consolation
The novel Havana Jazz Club by Lola Mariné narrates the adventures of Billie, a Cuban girl, daughter of a woman who adores jazz and decides to call her Billie as an homage to Billie Holiday, despite everybody telling her that ‘it’s a boy’s name’. Billie inherits her mother’s love for music, particularly jazz music, and luckily for her, that love never disappoints her. Unfortunately, the rest…
I’ve never been to Cuba and I only know about it what I’ve read in books or watched in movies. I wouldn’t dare to comment on how realistic or not the description of Billie’s life before leaving Cuba is, but her home life is endearing and loving and shows us a close and happy family. Although we all know mothers’ are always right, unfortunately Billie ignores her mother’s advice and her mistrust, and marries a boy, who isn’t only handsome but also knows it, Orlando. Billie leaves Cuba and a big chunk of her heart there, and follows her husband, and things don’t work well for them. Billie’s story once they arrive in Spain becomes one of domestic violence and exploitation. And things only go from bad to worse, to the point when she ends up living in the streets of Barcelona, where she is rescued by her guardian angel, Armando. And when things start to look up, the men in her life continue making her miserable. And I won’t tell you anything else because you must read the novel.
Lola Mariné has written a masterful melodrama. There are irredeemable baddies, goodies as sweet as sugar, terrible suffering, and talent and music, plenty of music. There were moments when I couldn’t help reading ahead convinced of what would happen, and that it would be bad, but the same as when we’re dragged by a fast current, I couldn’t do anything else but let myself go and see if I came up, unscathed, at the other side. And despite her trials and tribulations, and the disasters that pepper her journey, or perhaps because of them, the protagonist makes her dreams come true (in a small-scale but…), and creates a family made up of people who love her because she is who she is, and not because she’s been born here or there, or because it is their duty.
The part I enjoyed the most (and I loved it all) was when towards the end, the author, first through Gerardo and later through Billie herself, reflects upon the nature of creativity, about what the really important things in life are, and the tranquillity of feeling happy and comfortable in one’s own skin, without pretending or having to worry about appearances. I hope we can all reach such a state at some point in our lives.
If you enjoy novels with a heart, with unforgettable protagonists, and the stories about self-improvement and personal achievement, I wholeheartedly recommend it to you.
Thanks so much to Lola Mariné for bringing us her novel and answering our questions. Thanks to all for you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK!
Olga Núñez Miret