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Episode 75

Join hosts Veronica and Darren for a packed episode 75 featuring an astounding interview with author Conchita GarSantiago. We have chats, industry news, Reader's Cafe featuring a some amazing book spotlights, and our Writer's Lounge has super special guest,  K.M. Allan with a brilliant blog tip, and a heartfelt reading from Conchita GarSantiago's novel 'A Cry From Home'. Plus a whole lot more...


When did you first admit that you were a writer?

I’m not sure I have yet admitted that. Writer is quite a big word for somebody who doesn’t have several books on bookstores.

What was your favourite book as a child? 

Little women. I suppose it was the sisterly bond between all of them. Although, probably, like many other fans of the book, I did cry when Amy died.

What inspired you to write this book? 

I read a few books about the Spanish Civil War and in some of them mentioned that at the end of the war, when it was clear that Franco was winning, the Catalans (a north-east region of Spain) were thinking about giving their land to France. That made me think what the ramifications of that would have been and I thought I could write that. But I am on the other side of the world, I imagine not many people would know about the Spanish Civil War, so I decided to do an introduction. I was writing and writing and eventually I realised I had more than 50,000 words. It was no introduction. It was a book on its own.

Do you write for yourself or for a particular audience? 

I write what I feel confident with. If I were thinking what young women want or what elderly men want or what rebel teenagers want, I don’t think I could write anything good, because my mind would be all over the place. When I write what I feel confident with, I hope that there more people out there who would share my taste.

Is there anything specifically Australian about your book?

In my book I mention the International Brigades, where there were a small number of Australians. Most were ideologically motivated radicals, while others were Spaniards born to immigrant parents who returned to fight in their home country. At least 65 Australian volunteers fought on the Republican side, while Nugent Bull, a Catholic conservative, fought with Franco.

Are there any secrets hidden in your writing? 

If there were a secret and I told you, there wouldn’t be any secret any more. Don’t you think?

Why do you think listeners should read your book? 

Any one interested in European History might find this book interesting. The Spanish war was a sort of prelude to WWII in fact, Hitler was testing his planes and armaments in Spain before he used it in WWII.

Is there a message in your book? 

I think the message I wanted to send is that there were horrors made by both sides and there were good people in both sides. Also that most people didn’t fight according to an ideal as much as depending in which area they were. When a zone was taken by one side, it was probably safer to fight on that side. Of course there were many people who had strong ideas, but imagine this young man who’s minding his own business, not having any political view. Not having any hostility against anybody. Where is he going to fight?

Who is your most or least favourite character to write? 

My least favourite character is obviously Franco. He was the one who initiated everything and when it was all over he enjoyed the fruit of his destruction for many years. My favourite would be the fictional character I vaguely base on my grandfather.

What’s the best response you’ve ever had to your writing? 

People normally prize my dialogues and descriptions. With this book, I’m happy to say that readers have appreciate all the research I did when writing it.

What genres do you write in? 

I have some very short stories and I have a few murder stories. Also from some of my short stories, my daughter has made scripts. We already made two very short movies and we are in the process of making another one. If this is if it is successful, we’ll try to make it into tv series. I already have a few episodes. And this one is a funny one.

As a writer, are you a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in between? 

I normally have an idea in my head and I start to develop it. But many times happens that the story drives me instead of me driving the story. What do you think that makes me?

How much research is involved in your writing? 

For this book I was searching on people who were involved, battles, every single detail that is a real fact. I watched heaps of documentaries, which obviously were extremely sad and I read on some of the battles.

What’s your writing routine – if you have one? 

I normally write in the morning. I many times get up of bed start to write and I don’t go downstairs even for breakfast. But then, sometimes I go up again in the evening.

Where do you write? 

I made one of the bedrooms into an office. My desk is against the window and I enjoy feeling the sun on my face and looking outside,  when I lift my eyes from the keyboard thinking what or how could I say the nest sentence. Specially when in the evenings there is a beautiful sunset.

What’s your favourite writing food and drink? 

I don’t like eating while I write, but I like having coffee.

Who helped you most when you were starting out? 

Writer’s groups.

What’s the most useful writing advice you’ve been given? 

To look at the detail to make it flowing better and more visual. For example, don’t say “there was a tree outside the house.” Say “ There was a Jacaranda letting its purple flowers falling by the entrance of the house.”

What’s your writing goal for the next twelve months? 

I am translating this book into Spanish. The goal, would be to sell as many books as possible.

What words of advice would you give an aspiring author? 

Write what you feel confident with. Dive yourself into the story and live it.

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