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Interview with Jorge Sánchez López

Jorge Sánchez López

He was haunted by music and literature as a child, and this gift, of course, has stayed with him since then, even during the periods when he’s been more inactive as a writer. He is an avid reader and has created training manuals, poetry, translations, short stories, and novels. The mystery is his main genre, but he wants to mix them in a natural way to produce beautiful results.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I used to make chill out and techno songs on my computer and recorded a rap cassette album when I was a teenager.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
The next book that is coming soon is Deep Into the Heathen Wilderness, the translation of an already published book in Spain, which I made myself thanks to the experience acquired with American editors in Dry Ice (the original was in Spanish too).

I have two ongoing projects, a novel set in the USA and another in Spain during the 90s. The first one is not finished, and I’ve completed the first draft of the other. A third one is a Young Adult novel set in Dublin, where I’ll try to mix fantasy, love, mystery and anything that comes.

Q.3 What inspired you to write Dry Ice?
A holiday on the east coast of Spain. The sea, a resort and plenty of spas, tourists, travel agencies and visitors. It was the perfect environment. And I was given room 101, the same a friend had been a month before! In Orwell’s 1984, it has a special meaning. On top of that, I was reading a lot of crime books at the time.

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
This book has a third-person narrator, while in the other, I’ve used a first-person one, who is inspector Heather Parsons. Telling things from her perspective without falling into stereotypes can sometimes be challenging, but it’s a necessary exercise for any writer. In the dialogues, I try to make them realistic and natural. It is true that thoughts can be hard to reproduce, but you can do it by changing your perspective.

Q.5 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I have an idea or insight, but from that moment, there’s a lot to do. I do some research, watch films and read books that can put me in the mood and write a general draft. I plan chapters to some extent, writing two lines to draft each, but then it sometimes changes when I develop them. I prepare character biographies or profiles. As a rule of thumb, I know the beginning and the ending, and the difficult part is the rest of the plot. Besides, the first version is never the definitive one, as I start from page one again and work to eliminate and add anything necessary.

Q.6 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing? Tell us about your marketing campaign?
For independent writers, who are all those who haven’t reached the status of the best-seller, no matter the fact that you work with a traditional publisher, it is absolutely essential. Being present at events, fairs, and book signings, using social networks to interact with readers or potential readers, listening to what they like or not, having zero or beta readers, sharing your tastes in music, films and books so that not all are repetitive advertising, that’s what can make a difference.

Q.7 Is there, anyone, you’d like to acknowledge or thank for their support in your writing journey?
There would be many people involved, from my teachers to my parents, fellow writers, and friends. Everyone makes you become who you are as a writer, including those authors who inspired me, whether they are alive or not. But it is obvious that, if any, I'd have to thank Jaime, Luis, Terrie, and James, some of my editors, for relying on me in an area where it is so difficult to get published. Independent publishers have a struggle to be included and make a difference in this industry.

Q.8 What do you find difficult about writing mystery books?
 As a crime writer, the excess of subplots, clues, and fake clues that you have to explain later, hiding the real facts to the readers, creating alternative ways in which things may have happened, and still ensuring that the story isn’t confusing. Knowing if you want a serious, chilling, or comic environment or a mix of them, that’s also hard. All this makes it a specially difficult genre, far from lineal stories that with a few elements can work.

Q.9 What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your book?
There is something close to the closest crime, which is one that might not have even been one. Dry Ice depicts a woman who’s died in a jacuzzi, with no fingerprints or clues. The only thing that explains it is the excess of dry ice, an element that is commonly used at spas and discos to create an atmosphere. Anything from suicide to an accident, mechanical failure, or homicide could explain her state.

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?
Heather Parsons, to know if she thinks the way I intended her to, her innermost fears and passions, and the way she solves puzzles. From others, I’d invite The Invisible Man from HG Wells to feel his presence.

Q.11 What’s your writing schedule while working?
I seldom write for more than two hours. Rather, I think of it, prepare myself for the moment by taking previous nates and then work. I can do it every day or at the weekend.

Q.12 How do you select the name of your characters?
I use typical ones from their country of origin, consider double meanings, reference to literary or popular culture figures, and study the way they sound if they are easy to remember or start all with the same letter, which I sometimes try to avoid.

Q.13 How long does it take you to write a book?
That’s a difficult one. I could tell you that one year, if I write only at the weekend, but then I could have the first draft between three or six months if it’s a period where I don’t have much work as a teacher, during holidays, the COVID outbreak, etc. However, the first version is never the definitive one. Moreover, it is the difficulty of what I’m doing, rather than the extension, that matters.

Q.14 Who designed your book cover? How did you select him/her?
A. Terrie Lynn Balmer
, the publisher, and painter from Canadian Press Clublighthouse Publishing. I gave her a general idea, and she came out with that fantastic design. She also helped me with my translation into English, making it sound more natural and American-like.

Q.15 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
Writing with background instrumental music, writing half a chapter instead of the whole one within a session, writing on the sofa of my home but taking the notes anywhere I am.

Q.16 How do you select the name of your book?
I try to alter long and short ones, consider if I’m using names of whole sentences, verbs…I try to have an impact on readers.

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
I do, both on Goodreads, Facebook, or Instagram. Sometimes I get private feedback. With positive ones, I try not to conform. They don’t mean I can’t do it better. If there’s a negative review, I assume it’s part of the process, and they may reflect personal tastes of the reader or mistakes that I forgot while writing it, and that maybe I have already identified myself when reflecting months later. Any writer receives both!

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
A. E.M.Forster
, to ask him about how he wrote A Passage to India. Virginia Woolf or anyone from the Bloomsbury Circle. Edgar Allan Poe, to learn about his life and way of thinking. Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston, to know what it is like to be magical. The list includes many.

Q.19 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
It is hard to select only one, as I can read from classical ones like Sophocles or Shakespeare to Faulkner’s Sanctuary to James Joyce’s Dubliners or Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. I also like fiction from the beginning of the 20th century, including Pio Baroja, Blasco Ibáñez, and others. Dirty realism, like Raymond Carver or John Fante, and current authors like Henning Mankell, Soren Sveistrup, Camilla Lackberg, Michael Connelly, Lorenzo Silva, Toni Hill, Men Marías, or Jordi Sierra i Fabra.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A difficult but enriching trip, where frustration is compensated by all the positive feelings and outcomes that come with hard work.

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