Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Q&A with Magnus Stanke

Magnus Stanke came to fiction writing relatively late in life, and via literary detours in song-writing, film scripts and film criticism. He has worked professionally as bank clerk, shiatsu practitioner and language teacher. In his twenties he spent a lot of time backpacking and he has now settled in Spain. 
He sincerely wishes there were more hours in the day to pursue his other hobbies, now, that the writing is increasingly taking over.

1.       What inspired you to write Falling in Death and Love?
‘Falling in Death and Love’ started with the memory of the scent of pine that I had enjoyed at lot in the summer months before I started to write. That and a certain sense of nostalgia for the 1970s when I grew up were the decisive factors in the genesis of the book.
I wanted to try my hand at a genre piece rather than emulating my favourite writers Haruki Murakami or Mario Vargas Llosa – which in itself would have ended disastrously, I know…
Crime and thriller fiction is timeless because our lives are always going to be precious. People will always try to preserve their own at all cost. That’s what makes suspense fiction simultaneously universal and existentialist.

2.       How would you describe the relationship between David and Aurora?
When Aurora and David meet they experience an emotional explosion, a ‘coup de foudre’ as the French say. It’s love at first sight, the crazy, overwhelming kind of love that paralyses all sense of reason and logic. The surrealists call it ‘amour fou’, ‘crazy love’, an emotion that doesn’t necessarily lead to stable, lasting relationships but is highly exploitable for cinematic or literary purposes. It’s bipolar love, can take you from Seventh Heaven straight down to purgatory in the blink of an eye, or the absence thereof.
Since Aurora and David meet while she is on holiday, they have to take drastic steps to find out whether their love is just a passing fad or something more serious.
The great thing about ‘amour fou’ is that it gives you the energy to try out things out of the ordinary. It take you out of your comfort zone and facilitates the opportunities for real change.

3.       What were the ultimate goals of each of the two main characters?
I have to quickly explain the historic context of ‘Falling in Death and Love’.
After the death of General Franco in 1975, Spain’s last fascist dictator, the years of transition began. The powers that be and the powers that wanted to be fought over the future of the country. The military and the conservatives strove to maintain the status quo while the progressive forces went against them, towards democracy.
You have to understand that in Spain of the 1970’s divorce was not allowed. Period. Women couldn’t even get a passport without their husband’s permission.
Aurora, my Aurora if you like, is a very independent, strong-willed woman who gained her freedom from an unhappy marriage by a stroke of ‘luck’. Her husband died in a drunk-drive accident after she had started the unlikely proceedings of an annulment. For the first time in her life she is free to enjoy the things she only ever read about. Like sushi. When she travelled to Mallorca she was certainly not prepared to meet her soul mate.
But that’s exactly what David is, her soul mate as well as the island’s first sushi chef. He is also a globetrotter who is slowly but surely growing weary of the endless sea miles he’s been accumulating. More than Aurora he is instantly willing and ready to commit to a relationship that promises lasting stability beyond the initial rush.
David is a romantic at heart while Aurora is a quiet rebel.

4.       What are some of the main socio-economic issues that you explore in this book and why did you explore them?
Mallorca is a small Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. In the 50’s and 60’s flights were still prohibitively expensive for most Europeans, but by the last 70’s some 5 million visitors flocked there annually. However, once in Spain most tourists found their dollars, marks, pounds and francs went a lot further than at home. And the weather left nothing to be desired.
From the point of view of the islanders this is a mixed blessing. Urban development has been rampant at times and threatened to obliterate everything that was original and quaint. Still, tourism brought prosperity and somehow the locals have managed to maintain a certain level of dignity to the changes. Today Mallorca is still booming when the rest of mainland Spain is in a deep economic crisis.

5.       What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
Well, since it’s a thriller I hope people will be thrilled and entertained. It’s a chase narrative with twists and turns. It’s also a trip back in time. There was no internet or mobile phones in 1977 but that doesn’t necessarily make it more innocent as eras go.

6.       What do you like best and what do you like least about being a writer?
I like the actual writing the best, creating stories and character out of nothing, but I don’t like the selling which takes up a lot of my time and I know I’m not very good at it.

7.       Who are some of your favorite authors?
I’ve already mentioned Vargas Llosa and Murakami but I mustn’t forget about thriller authors. I dig (in no particular order) Elmore Leonard, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, James Lee Burke, Jim Thompson, Carl Hiaason, Gillian Flynn, Sarah Waters and many others.

8.       If your book would be turned into a movie, who would you imagine playing the part of the main characters? (Actor can be ANYONE, living or dead.)
If the movie would be in English I’d go for Emily Blunt for Aurora and Jake Gyllenhaal for David. It’d be a totally different story if it was shot in Spanish, or course.

9.       Are you working on anything right now?
Yes. ‘Falling in Death and Love’ is the first book in a cycle of Retro-thrillers. While the second and third book aren’t direct sequels, they do echo and rhyme with the first one, and some of the characters re-appear. Since I’m currently between drafts of ‘Time Lies’, the second book, I have started plotting the third which is called ‘Murder in the Comfort Zone’ at the moment.

‘Time Lies’ should be ready for publication later this year if all works out well. Just watch this space

10.   And, finally, what do you think is in store for the future of Latino literature?

I hope it’ll grow and prosper of course, however I don’t claim to be an expert. My wife is Latina and I’m but a humble German living in Spain and writing in English. I seem to have a better understanding of the past than the present or the future. Still I’m willing to learn…

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