Rosa Montero is an acclaimed novelist and an award-winning journalist for the Spanish newspaper El País. A native of Madrid and the daughter of a professional bullfighter, Montero published her first novel at age twenty-eight. She has won Spain’s top book award, the Qué Leer Prize, twice—for The Lunatic of the House in 2003 and Story of the Transparent King in 2005. Rosa was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about herself and her latest novel, Tears In Rain.
KC: Will you tell us a bit about your brand new book, Tears In Rain?
Rosa Montero: It is a science fiction thriller set in Madrid 2109… Actually, it is an existential thriller, so to say, because it talks about the main human tragedy: to come to this beautiful life so filled with desires and projects and dreams, and to die so soon! Because death comes always too soon, even if you manage to be 100 years old!!! Besides this, it is a book about human nature, about memory and identity, about politics and the need of the others. Bruna Husky, the main character, is a former warrior replicant who works as a detective, and I think she is the strongest character I have ever written. And I hope that all these ingredients are wrapped up in a tight and adventurous and gripping and humorous tale, lol!!!
KC: Tears In Rain isn’t your first novel, and you have a journalism background. Did you see yourself as a writer in some form since you were young? What made you decide to start writing fiction?
RM: I always say I am an organic writer, because I write fiction in the same natural and essential way as I breathe. As most novelists, I began writing fiction when I was a child. J.K.Rowling said in an interview she wrote her first novel at 6 years old and it was about a talking rabbit. I wrote my first short stories at 5 years old and they were about talking mice… We all seem to write about talking rodents, I don´t know why, lol…. Anyway, I have been writing fiction all my life; I didn’t even decide to do it, it simply was there; and I decided to become a journalist just because it was something near to my passion for writing.
RM: Hundreds!!!! We writers are all children of many literary parents. Every book you have liked teaches you something. And even the books you don´t like teach you a lesson about what not to do… But to name some masters: for my hyperrealistic side, Vladimir Nabokov; for my fantastic side, Ursula K. LeGuin and Borges.
KC: Sci-fi is a very broad genre. Do you have any other ideas you’d like to explore in future novels?
RM: I will write more novels with Bruna Husky… the next one will have a more spy novel touch, and survival (and the price of it) will be a main topic… But, for me, writing Sci-fi is like writing any other novel… I mean, I have published 12 novels in 33 years, two of them Sci-Fi; and, although the 12 seem very different, all of them talk about the same thing, the human condition, and have the same topics, which are my obsessions: death, time, identity, memory, power, love, survival…
KC:What do you love most about writing science fiction?
RM: It has a wonderful metaphorical strength. You can talk about old subjects through powerful new tales.
KC: What are you reading now?
RM: Set In Darkness, by Ian Rankin. It is a novel ten years old, but I have just been in Edinburg and a friend gave it to me…. I like it.
KC: When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
RM: I love to walk in the countryside, specially trekking in the mountains with my dogs. And also reading, listening to music, watching films and theater plays, having fun with friends, going to art exhibitions… the usual things.
KC: What’s next for you?
RM: Next March I will publish my next book in Spain, a work half about Marie Curie, half about myself… I enjoyed very much writing it and I hope readers will share that joy with me.