This post is also available in: Spanish
I recently asked Isabel to tell me about the last three books she read and loved. Here are her answers:
Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose is a fascinating historical novel set in Paris before and during the Second World War. I liked the way Prose weaves several different stories and characters to create a rich tapestry of a very interesting time.
Another book I loved is Dirty Love, by André Dubus III. Disturbing and sexually explicit stories by a great writer. Each story is haunting; I couldn’t get them out of my mind for weeks.
The third book I have to mention is El héroe discreto by Mario Vargas Llosa (in Spanish). As a matter of faith, I read everything that Vargas Llosa writes and I am almost never disappointed. Set in Peru, this is a story of blackmail, betrayed love, courage and fate.
(It’s hard to get Isabel to sit still more than once in a great while, so since I had her in front of me, I decided to throw in a few more questions):
What’s your favorite fan story? Can you tell me about a memorable fan/reader experience?
I have been writing for 33 years and I have very loyal readers who write to me frequently. Every day I get dozens of messages from all over the world. It would be impossible to choose a favorite story.
If you could spend a week with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would not want to spend a week with anybody except my husband and my dogs. A dead writer in his or her coffin would be my choice, but if I name the person it might bring bad luck. Evil eye, as they say. Wow! I just remembered Mark Twain. I could spend several weeks with him, he was funny, exuberant, great storyteller, handsome and sexy.
What are some of the best questions you have been asked either by journalists, fans or readers?
Some of the best questions I have heard over the years:
1) Are you going to keep writing? Why? Isn’t it time to retire?
2) Why don’t you write an erotic novel before it’s too late?
3) Could you give me an idea for a novel and introduce me to your publishers?
What does success mean to you? Do you think you are successful?
I think I am successful as a writer and not so much as a person. I still have much to learn and grow emotionally and spiritually. I wish I could also grow physically….Success for me means that I don’t have to worry about being published, that nobody edits my books or tries to tell me what to write, that I am my own boss, that I can make a living and support many people with my work. Success happens in an external circle. Inside, I am the same person I was before. I know who I am, I am still in my skin, I do not rest on my laurels.
When are you happiest?
My happiest moment of the day is at dawn, meditating in bed (“beditating”) while scratching Dulce’s belly. (Dulce is one of my dogs.)
I am happy when I write, when I make love and when I have the feeling that I have done something good for somebody. Being generous makes me happy.
Recently, when I was with you on a book research mission, we met some dear older people at a retirement community. I was so touched at the end of our meeting when one of the women said, “Find what makes you happy and feed it.” What is it that you are feeding?
Storytelling. I was at the senior community researching a novel—that is, I was feeding what makes me happy.
What gets cut when you write? Is there a big pile on the floor of paragraphs and passages that don’t make the grade…and can I have them??
Sarah, don’t be silly. I write on a computer. How would I know how much is changed, cut, pasted, moved, etc.? Only when I have told the whole story do I print it; then I correct on paper and go back to the computer. There are very few printed drafts, but thousands of virtual ones.
Just for fun, if you were to choose the cast for a movie adaptation of Ripper, who would you pick to play the part of Amanda? What about Ryan? Indiana? Blake?
Please ask somebody else this question.
So, if you are reading this I will ask you. Who should be cast for the movie Ripper? I have some ideas. It’s fun to think about, send your suggestions in a comment.