Àlvar Masllorens. Author.
Àlvar Masllorens (Barcelona, 1962) Graduated in Art History, bookseller, editor and writer. As a bookseller, we will find him in the Llibrería La Temeraria (Calle Goleta,7 de Terrassa), one of the bookstores with the most charm and passion for literature in Terrassa. But also, as an editor, we can find him at the editorial La Temeraria, an independent publisher that really feels committed to literature, and where we will find copies of authors published with great literary quality. As a writer, in addition to participating in several collective works in the genres of essays and children’s literature, he is the author of “Requiem and other poems” (Deriva, 1996), the novel “The inaudible sound of the stars” (Proa, 2002. Prize Roc Boronat, 2001) and the play Espaldas (unpublished). Àlvar Masllorens published “En braços del pare” in August 2018, a novel with which this year he was nominated by Òmnium Cultural as one of the 24 novels in Catalan that are eligible for the Òmnium Prize for the best novel of the year, in the that an independent and prestigious jury values the best novels of the year, after a previous selection by a committee, and chooses the three finalist works to be announced during the Festa de Santa Llúcia (in December). The objective of this award is to give Catalan literature prestige (inside and outside the cultural sphere itself), create a canon of the best-published novels and promote translations. For this reason, today we talk with the writer, but without neglecting the bookseller, nor the publisher, because they all happen around literature, in the end. In short, we are talking about everything that writing for Àlvar Masllorens means.
CR: How did the idea to create the story told En braços del pare come up? What motivated you to write this story?
AM: Normally I start from some bases that I want to write about, and this usually gives you the tone and the theme from which to develop the minimum plot to give way to the concerns that I want to talk about. In addition, I was immediately clear about the characters that had to sustain the speech of the novel, and this always greatly facilitates the writing process.
CR: How would you define the creative process that you have lived while writing En braços del pare?
AM: The novel is written over two different periods, separated in time. This is a purely personal, labour issue, in fact. I usually have very clear ideas of what I want to say, and the mentally structured novel, with which I live the process intensely, always, accompanying you on a day-to-day basis, and enjoying the moments reserved for writing. It is more a rational, mental process that flows during the writing moments, reaping the fruits of what is previously thought. For me, it is to enjoy, because I am very slow at the time of writing, and I correct little, although it is a fundamental part of the process.
CR: How long did it take you to have completely finished the book En braços del pare?
AM: If we add the two periods to which I was referring before, approximately between one and a half and two years. It is a short but intense novel.
CR: Did you plan the story before writing or did you improvise as you wrote the plot?
AM: For me, the plot comes to justify what I want to talk about. It is the thread that drives the story for the reader, and you have to take care of it, but generally, I have it drawn enough when I start the writing process. Yes, there are later, small changes that you introduce throughout the process of making the work, but they never change the architecture of the novel.
CR: What was your biggest influence when writing En braços del pare?
AM: Honestly, I don’t think I could trace specific influences for this novel. Yes, I am clear about the influences received in my way of writing, which are diverse and, if you allow me, intimate. What there is, and I think it happens to many authors, are reference writers who, while we are writing, we have to “forbid” us to read because they can mark us excessively at the time of writing.
CR: If you had to choose a character from En braços del pare to write another novel, who would you choose?
AM: I don’t think I ever recovered a character that has already appeared in one of my novels, but if I had to choose one, it would undoubtedly be that of the Maureen, which seems to me to be the one that could still give a lot of play and that is, passively, the main character of the novel.
CR: Tell us about the locations you have chosen for En braços del pare. Do they have any special meaning for you as a writer? Have you been personally? Or did you link them to the story for any reason you believed was coming from the story? Explain and tell us about the cities and places that appear in the novel.
AM: In fact, all the places I mention and where the action happens are places where I have lived or spent long seasons, and with a special meaning for me. Except for the city of Bristol, where I’ve never been, but for obvious reasons when reading the text, I needed it to come out for a real character to appear.
CR: Whom would you recommend reading your novel En braços del pare?
AM: I think that in the case of my last novel, the spectrum of possible readers is very wide. But especially to all those people who like intimate, reflective works, with characters with relationship conflicts, which, in the end, is the most important thing in my books.
CR: Which scene in the book is your favourite?
AM: Frankly, I would have a hard time choosing one. But if you make me choose, perhaps I would stay with the final scene, for the one that supposes in the general context of the book.
CR: How did you feel when you were informed that En braços del pare had been selected by Òmnium Cultural as one of the 24 novels in Catalan of the year? How was that moment? How did they let you know? Explain the moment, your impressions, and your experience with this nomination.
AM: Since this is an absolutely unexpected thing, it was a very special moment. Very happy and proud at the same time, because a Committee selects your book; therefore, they see some specific values. It is a great satisfaction, certainly. I found out after a call because they wanted to contact the publisher to let us know. And since they called me at the bookstore, I was able to speak directly to them.
CR: Have you read some of the other nominated novels? What do you think?
AM: Yes, I have read some, and I can say that among the 24 there are great books. But, to be honest I think that at the moment I cannot pronounce on the ones that I have read. Not yet.
CR: We come back to you as a writer, when you write Do you think of a certain group of readers, or do you let yourself be carried away by the story told without thinking beyond who will read it?
AM: I never think about readers. I think this could condition me. At some point, you wonder about how a typical reader (non-existent, then) can receive the text or some part of the text. But I need to be very sure of what I do. When I finish the text, it has to satisfy me. So I am sure that whether or not people like it or not, I find it indifferent in the sense that I would not change anything for this reason. Obviously, but, we all like to be read to and satisfy as many readers as possible.
CR: How much time do you spend writing normally? You have fixed writing habits, a place where you always need to write, or you can write anywhere at any time, share with us a little your writing habits.
AM: I try to always have a fixed weekly space reserved, and this allows me to add several moments that I scratch in the day today. Also, I try to get an hour before going to the bookstore, 3-5 days a week. I also always carry a notebook where I take notes or ideas that come to mind, so I can develop when I’m writing. And I do this at home, in the studio.
CR: What do you think is the best thing about being a writer?
AM: For me, giving way to a vital need.
CR: What is your highest aspiration as a writer? Your maximum dream that you would like to make come true as a writer?
AM: As I said before, the writing process itself is an enjoyment in itself; And a necessity. Therefore, the aspiration is to improve in each new book, starting from the premise that they are not taken for granted until they satisfy you as a writer.
CR: We are lucky that we find in you the three professional figures of the literary world in a single person, therefore you could tell us: What is better to be a writer, bookseller or publisher?
AM: I live them all as different facets of my life. But for me, there is nothing compared to the act of writing. Anyway, I really enjoy all three.
CR: What readings do you like to read the most? And who are your favourite authors?
AM: Generally, in addition to poetry and essay, I read a lot of fiction. Intimate or not, but especially those that reveal a different and enriching look at people, about life, about relationships. I think that literature has to challenge us, as authors and as readers.
CR: What reading would you recommend reading to someone who has never read but wants to get into the habit of reading?
AM: There is no single recipe. You have to talk to the reader who comes to the bookstore and see what is most suitable for her. This is what I have always done as a bookseller; it is a basic premise.
CR: What advice would you give to someone who wants to dedicate himself to writing?
AM: Above all, that you read a lot and read well, with a critical and apprentice spirit, to get intrinsic out of the text in its different aspects. The second step, for me essential, is that you exercise as much as necessary until you find your own voice, something that is not always taken into account.
CR: And lastly, we know that you are preparing a new book, could you tell us something…
AM: In fact, he continues talking about those topics that have already appeared in the two published novels and in the rest of my work: reflections on both the creative fact and human relations. The latter, expanding or decreasing the focus according to the moment and the needs. I am interested in questioning what we are, how we relate to the world around us and to each other. Man is a fantastic being, capable of the best and the worst, and we all carry the seed from both extremes. How we relate usually indicates the paste that we are made of, yes, but there are many external determining factors that must be weighed in due measure.