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Interview with Antonio Rolando Arenas

He is a person dedicated to Literature out of his own enthusiasm. In this activity, he persevered and published the book Interrogantes (Questions). He did not stop in his eagerness as a literary maker and published the book La página del buffet; una publicación literaria different (The buffet page; a different literary publication). He continued writing poetry and published the book Diálogos Internos (Internal Dialogues). His effort went further and began to venture into the narrative where he hopes to leave a mark, which is why he published El Juego de Los Errores (The Game of Errors). All his books are written in the Spanish language.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I am a small man of fifty-eight years old, with some difficulties socializing since I respect the other, I listen to him, and I do not interrupt him. I mean, I let it be. But what happens? From this interview and the others that I answered previously, I explained my way of being, my literary experience, my creative situation. I managed to communicate in writing and in another language that is not the native one and is not that of my relatives, because I write in Spanish, with people so distant from me and from countries other than mine.

I use the English language as a tool to reach a reader who is beyond my geography, beyond my mountains, beyond my rivers. I use the English language to communicate and not to reflect a different social position than those who do not have it, and not as Armando Tejada Gómez did in the country of the Sun who used the Spanish language as if it were a foreign language for him just to get revenge for his Huarpe DNA displaced by the Spanish Conquest in America, Western India.

I am a person, I am a poet, I am a writer. I am this one who is here with intuitions and perceptions that allow me to reflect and advance in my purposes. Something that a lot of people don't know? I dedicated time to these interviews because, in them, I allow myself to develop some ideas that I want to capture in my books. I also wrote a poem entitled Song for Indira Gandhi in 1984.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you shortly? Any new project you’re working on?
Obvious. I am working on a novel, on my first novel. I go slowly because I want to make an interesting narrative, that is to say, that it gives me possibilities to affirm myself as a writer. I also delivered my book Interrogantes (Questions) to a publisher to finalize the third edition; I am waiting for this publisher to complete the publication.

Q.3 What inspired you to write The Game of Errors?
I will say that I received an employment contract for Carnival Cruise Line and in the body of the email the instructions to obtain a Visa to enter the United States of America. The contract worked as compensation to obtain an income per month of ten thousand two hundred and fifty dollars. I had to process the Visa for the company's convenience in New Delhi, India, with Barrister Howard Tyler. Is this the secret? I suspected because the job was not a writer. So I thought, what would I do to write a book? He would share the cell in the ADX Florence jail with Chapo Guzmán, or he would participate in a war accompanying the soldiers, or he would travel on a cruise through the great oceans of this world. It doesn't matter what I do; I'm interested in writing a book. I accepted and started the procedures to obtain the Visa in India. Upon sending the money for the cost of the documentation, Barrister Howard Tyler sent me the Visa forms for verification. Out of mistrust, I contacted the United States Embassy in Argentina and explained this situation. Shortly after, they replied that they were investigating and contacted me with Carnival Cruise Line in the United States to verify what happened.

Is this the secret? From the Carnival Cruise Line company in the United States, they issued a statement after observing the contract: "The administration of our company does not nominate you for any job."

On the other hand, I had started a literary trajectory that I had to accentuate, justify and deepen. I needed to enter the narrative with a book since my activity was limited to poetry. Although he had written several stories, he had never published them. So I set about getting them together and getting to the book. In doing so, they problematized the errors. He corrected and corrected. Hence, the closest title to represent the book was El Juego de Los errores (The Game of Errors).

Secondly, I will say that Pope Francis took office in the Vatican, and now near death, he manifests in an interview for the book La Salud de Los papas (The health of the popes) by Nelson Castro he will not return to Argentina. Is that the secret? His death, far from Jesus, among the comforts and luxuries of the Vatican will not be in Argentina, the country in which he intervened from his political inclinations to leave him in poverty and in the hands of the political speculators to whom he dedicated his support. Is that the secret?

I published my book El Juego de Los errores (The Game of Errors) with enthusiasm to enter the narrative. The kickoff was El Diario de una Villa, with which I won the Ana María Agüero Melnyczuk Prize for Research - 2014, and that merit made me gather all the stories that I had written from 1987 to 2018 in this book.

But is that the secret? Or is that one of the errors?

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
This question is the first time I have encountered it. I was not aware of this question being asked of a writer in an interview. In my narrative, I use characters to express predicted actions or situations. I work on most of my stories' male characters. There are very few female characters that I use. They are generally flat characters. But already in the novel, there is an interest on my part to use female characters more insistently.

The difficult thing has been the description of the clothing. Although I spent several hours thinking about this female character, it was difficult for me to imagine her way of dressing.

I also thought about including characters with dissenting genders, or alternative genders, or bipolarities. But I only made an outline if the plot demands it. I can use them; otherwise, it would be an imbalance between the ingredients of my literary creation.

Q.5 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
No, I don't have an established formula for developing plots or characters. I only have an idea that flows strongly from within me, and I put it into writing. Then I organize it, I plan its sequences if necessary. I make vocabulary adjustments and verify the actions of the characters to avoid contraindications.

Although I do not have an established formula, the result of my literary creation obeys a mental structure, a mold that may have been worked by another writer, or a superstructure already delimited from theory to narrative.

I want to specify before finishing the manuscript of the novel a verification of situational plans similar to the one used in architecture with the presentation of models. For that, I have photographs that, after examining them, serve me to specify a description. It is a way to mobilize my cognitive structure and train it for what I want to achieve. In this case, a literary creation. A novel at last.

Q.6 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing? Tell us about your marketing campaign?
I think it is essential. When I started, I was concerned about reaching people with different trades. I used up my time on that task. When I exchanged experiences with them in meetings for this purpose, other writers told me that they preferred suitable readers, college, and select. But they are no longer writers. They got lost.

I followed the blows, lonely. I used up my money on advertisements. I entered the marketing plans that appeared online, and I took advantage of them for my literary task. I used email lists, I used social media exposure. I followed the directions of some publishers to promote a book, such as using a video to launch the book, or have a writer page, or arrange an interview on a blog so that readers would have a more thorough knowledge of the book's author.

Although I did all this to the letter, with few resources in money, with my books present in online bookstores located through Google, I did not manage to exceed in sales the floor that I have in my statistics.

Q.7 Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge or thank for their support in your writing journey?
No. I have no one to thank. I made this writing trip by myself, out of my own enthusiasm. I only used the tools that were given to me at school during my literacy learning.

Then I continued with successes, with errors. I insisted on my intrinsic drive. I came to publishers because I wanted to be there. I attended a Book Fair because I wanted to be there. I always insisted. Someone may have opened a door for me, someone may have brought me a chair, someone may have placed a microphone for me to speak in public. But it was I who made the decision to do literature.

Q.8 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
I have four published books: Interrogantes (Questions), La página del buffet; una publicación literaria diferente (The buffet page; a different literary publication), Diálogos Internos (Internal Dialogues) and El juego de los Errores (The game of errors).

I don't have a favorite book since I enthusiastically made them all equally. Now I am writing a novel, my first novel. It takes time, effort, and dedication.

Q.9 What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your book?
Perhaps I was surprised by the existence of a parallel life - a different life, alien, but possible.

Q.10 If you could, which fictional character (from your own book or someone else’s) would you like to invite for dinner and why?
If I could… I would reach out to a character and invite him to dinner. It's about Lieutenant Colonel Aldo Poor. After drinking wine and eating dessert, I would kidnap him and lock him between the pages of my novel. Once there, he would ask for explanations about the hoisting in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) with pipelines attached to the mast through the sixteen flaming rays of the Inca Sun, the Sun of May, the Argentine Flag.

I would describe him as fat, bald, with a thick superhero voice. I would lock him up in a labyrinth of words so that he understands that when he returns from the war, from that war that still does not end, an incipient writer would be waiting for him in a corner of the center of the City of Mendoza to avenge his death, the other death that had as a soldier in that war of peat bogs, mallines, and mud with a shot in the back.

Q.11 Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Yes, it is challenging for me to write reality. I think that without a bit of imagination that literature that talks about a routine that is done every day would be very boring.

Q.12 What do you consider being your best accomplishment?
My best achievement is having developed the ability to observe and understand things that happen, having pedagogically fulfilled my purpose in a literary way, and have specified this interview so that the reader understands.

Q.13 Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I prefer to be original in my literary creation, but as I wrote poetry, readers pointed out that poetry was for a few. They suggested the narrative to me. So I was moving away from poetry to enter the narrative and thus satisfy the readers' desire. But in my narrative, I want my imprint; I want to be original.

Q.14 Who designed your book cover?
When I finished collating the book El Juego de Los errores (The game of errors), I suffered a robbery in my house. A thief stole my computer's hard drive with the newly completed book file. While I returned to work on the book, I had a contact through Facebook with a student of the Editorial Media Design subject, led by professor Ketty Miranda, her name Jessica Yammine Escobar, from the Autonomous University of the Caribbean, in Barranquilla, Colombia, in 2020, she asked me for the manuscript to do the practices and thus pass this subject. When he finished and passed his course, he sent me the book designed to be printed on paper.

I set out to find a publisher and put the emphasis on reducing costs. In this way, I got to the electronic book, but the publisher could not process the design for the paper format. So I looked in an image bank and found that image of men's shoes that shone differently because they weren't in Buenos Aires. What a good cover! I said to myself, here the shoes shine on the cover of my book. In other words, it was not a special design for the book, but rather it was an image that I chose and used for the cover of my book.

Q.15 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
Yes, getting up from my bed to write an idea or phrase that occurs to me because if I don't, what happens with dreams happens, they disappear, and then I can't get them back.

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
It is a complicated task. Some characters have the name in literary code; others are taken from reality as they are. Others are names that appeal to me and are friendly. Sometimes I look for interesting names in cemeteries. I observe the graves and read the inscriptions on the tombstones. 
Other times I take a character from reading and divert him from his actions, or I prepare lists of names when I read a newspaper, and then I take them into account when writing a story or a passage in my novel.

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
The reviews of my books published in newspapers or blogs are the same reviews that appear on the back cover of my books. That bothers me because many years ago in Argentina, writers used to deliver a copy of the book in paper format to a newspaper, radio, or television journalist for broadcast. Seeing that they reiterate the same thing and do not produce a different opinion or assessment about the book, I put this custom aside.

I prefer who reads the book and makes a comment according to their reading. That is why it bothers me to see in a newspaper or blog the review published on the back cover because I realize that they have not read the book.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
I would like to participate in a seminar by Vatsiaiana with explanations about the Kama Sutra, for example, sex in the life of a man, sexual games with women, marriage, wife, seduction, and how to attract other people.

Q.19 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
I read the book Chosen Thoughts by Mahatma Gandhi because I was interested in his philosophy of nonviolence and the process he initiated for India's Independence. I also read a book by Krishnamurti, and it struck me because it helped me understand people.

I really liked The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupéry because it reveals different looks between an adult and a child.

I was interested in The Paths of the Spider's Nests by Italo Calvino because it is an introductory novel. He turns his life experience and allowed me to meet a different writer who manages to develop his imagination.

I read the book The Satanic Verses and the book Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie because I want to understand his literature and the problems that impacted his life.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
I have shared the experience of my writing journey in many events and interviews. I also
 participated in the Smashwords Read an Ebook Week event in March 2021. And I continue and will continue to share, but… I think and plan each participation. I examine the conditions and analyze whether or not it is convenient for me to participate.

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