fuentes-author-photo-by-brittainy-laubackBecause even when I am talking to myself, I am talking to other people, I asked the writers (my friends) Shamala Gallagher, Kristen Gleason, Prosper Hedges and (my husband) Thibault Raoult for some help. Their questions are interspersed with my own and ones I have been asked in the past, some ordinary, some not.

 

Your novel, The Sleeping World, just debuted. Since it’s your first novel, the autobiography question must be asked. Is it about you?

Yes and no. The setting and events are very distant from my own life, yet there are emotional parallels throughout the book. The Sleeping World follows four college students during the political turmoil of Spain’s transition to democracy. The narrator, Mosca, is looking for her brother who disappeared two years ago. One year before I started writing the book, my brother fatally overdosed. I kept this loss to myself and wrote through it, instead of speaking of it. Mosca and I are both haunted by our lost brothers. I wanted/needed to explore haunting and how death fundamentally alters one’s world. The desire to be haunted turns ghost into a verb. From that a new space is created, with its own rules, its own realities.

the-sleeping-world-cover-originalSpring 1977

Our final university exams were in two days. Grito would probably pass because despite everything, he’d been staying up and studying. La Canaria was sure to fail, and she’d get sent back to the Canary Islands, where they were rioting, and I’d have to deal with a blubbering Grito. As for myself, I just didn’t know.

We’d spent all semester protesting, gathering in the plaza and marching for the Communist Party, for democracy, for the legalization of divorce and abortion, for jobs, for anarchy, for anything except what we’d always known. Our dictator general finally dead and there would be democratic elections soon, the first in more than forty years, but we didn’t really know what they would mean. We’d stayed out all day, screaming and drinking, pinning the Communist Party’s hammer and sickle to our bags and jackets. La Canaria walked around with safety pins she’d stolen from her part-time job at La Reina Tailoring, and a couple of potatoes cut in half, offering to pierce anybody and anything.