As you know I try to bring you writers who mainly publish in Spanish and whose works have been translated to English to help you discover their wonderful offerings. Today, I have the pleasure of bringing you Carmen Grau, a writer from Barcelona (like me) who after travelling widely (and she keeps travelling) now lives in Australia. Therefore the interview title is a bit of a misnomer as she has written it in English, but I thought you’d find it fascinating. And it’s a topic fairly different to the fiction I usually bring you. If you have children you’ll find her take on children’s education pretty interesting too.
And here, without further ado, I introduce you to Carmen.
Carmen Grau was born and grew up in Barcelona, Spain. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Barcelona and a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Providence College, R.I. She writes in English, Spanish, and Catalan. She has traveled extensively and lived in different countries like the USA, Singapore, Malaysia, and Australia. In the year 2000 she set out on an unplanned journey around several Southeast Asian countries, and a year later she wrote “Amanecer en el Sudeste Asiático” (Sunrise in Southeast Asia), the number one ebook in all travel categories on Amazon Spain in 2012 and 2013. In 2004, she wrote the novel “Trabajo temporal”. In 2013, she published a second travelogue, “Hacia tierra austral”, which tells her journey on board some of the most legendary trains in the world, from Barcelona, Spain to Perth, Australia. The novel “Nunca dejes de bailar” is her most recent work, published in February 2015. She writes regularly in her blogs: elblogdecarmengrau.blogspot.com, in Spanish, and raisingchildreninfreedom.blogspot.com, in English. Apart from writing and traveling, Carmen has many other passions like cooking, walking, and reading; most of all, spending time with her two unschooled sons, Dave and Alex. She is a child advocate and a firm believer in the right of children to self-education. When not traveling, Carmen and her two sons live in Dunsborough, a small town in the South West of Australia.
When and where did you start writing?
I started writing when I was little. I remember writing my first book when I was eight. I don’t know what happened to it, but I still keep the journals I started when I was ten or eleven. I never stopped, but I did burn some of the later journals so that my siblings would stop wanting to read everything I wrote. I find this very ironic now because they are not interested in reading my books. I don’t mind and we still get along great.
Tell us about your experience as an independent writer
I published my first book Amanecer en el Sudeste Asiático (now available in English as Sunrise in Southeast Asia) on Amazon in 2012. I wrote it in 2001, right after my seven-month journey around Southeast Asia. I tried to get it published in Spain with no success. In the meantime, I kept travelling and living life. I also got distracted with marriage and kids. One day it dawned on me that the book had been sitting in a drawer for ten years. I only gave it to read to friends who knew about it and asked for it. One day a writer contacted me. She had heard about my book through a common friend and wanted to read it. She liked it and encouraged me to do something about it. So I decided to try again to get it published in the traditional way. I sent it to over thirty literary agents in Spain. Four of them replied and one said they loved it and would be happy to represent me. However, they did not manage to find me a publisher and blamed it on the current economic crisis in Spain. It was then, at the end of 2011, when I decided to self-publish my book using my small second-hand book business name, Dunsborough Books. The book finally came out in April 2012 and started selling on Amazon straight away. Soon it became number one in all travelling categories on Amazon and has remained at the top since its publication. After that, I was encouraged to keep self-publishing and, of course, writing, which I had never stopped doing. Since then, I have been contacted by traditional publishers who are interested in my work, and I might consider trying this other way, but for the moment I am happy as an independent author and publisher.
Do you have a particular moment about your experience as a writer that you remember with particular affection?
I can’t think of one precise moment. I have lots of anecdotes regarding my readers which I cherish. Once a reader found one of my books on a bench. He picked it up, read it, loved it, and wrote to me to let me know all this. Another time, my sister went to Thailand for a month and she met a couple who started telling her about this great book they had just read. It was my book!
Do you have a favourite genre (as a reader and as a writer)
As a reader, I don’t have a favourite genre, but there are genres I wouldn’t read even if they paid me. I read a lot of non-fiction. I love travel books, but also psychology and science books. And I love reading fiction too, mainly literary fiction. As an author, I aspire to write good quality contemporary fiction and also non-fiction about the things that interest me, like education and travelling.
What made you decide to translate your book? And how did you go about it?
The Spanish version of my first book was so successful that I thought I should try to have it translated into English. Besides, all my English speaking friends asked me for it. At the time, I didn’t think I would have the patience or skill to translate it myself, so I looked for a professional translator. Someone recommended me one that turned out to be quite unprofessional. I saw that straight away, so nothing was lost. Then I did some research myself, through Linkedin. I found a translator that seemed very talented and professional and started working with him. It was a great experience and I will be recommending him to a lot of people.
Any advice for other writers?
Have your book read, proofread and revised by as many people as you can, prior to publication. You’ll be surprised at how disparaging your friends’ opinions will be. In the end, though, you decide what changes to make. Write for yourself, you’re the first one who has to like it. If you like it, many other people will like it too, because you’re not that unique. That’s what I do, anyway.
Links to follow Carmen and read more about her book:
Book in paperback (and you can also get the e-version matched for price if you get the paperback)
Carmen’s page in Amazon:
A post by Brendan Riley, the translator, about the book.
Thanks so much to Carmen for telling us about her book and her writing, thanks to all of you for reading, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK!