Friday, 19 April 2013

What I saw with Doctor Forrest in Barcelona...

Photo by Clara Gabrielli
The special treat of seeing one of my books translated into a foreign language always gives me a unique commingled feeling of sophistication and idiocy: it is, after all, quite a thing to get to this age and see your name on the cover of a book you can’t read. 

My chief emotion in this case, though, is just huge gratitude that my gothic novel The Possessions of Doctor Forrest has been rendered into Spanish most elegantly (as Las posesiones del doctor Forrest) by Alba Editorial of Barcelona, as part of its Novela Negra imprint. The cover alone, with a shiny spot-finish on the sinuous serpent, is undoubtedly a thing of evil beauty. And this publication has renewed an association with Alba begun in 2001 when they also put out in Spanish my book on Dogme 95 (as El título de este libro es Dogma 95.)

I owe a huge thanks to Idoia Moll and the house of Alba for hosting me so generously in Barcelona last month to tie in with publication. I was interviewed by a number of journalists at Alba’s wonderful offices, where I admired the great range of their publishing, embracing both the best of the contemporary plus a great array of the classics; I toured the famous Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, which is everything that I heard it would be and more; and I signed books at the renowned Negra y Criminal bookstore. A great swathe of wall-space at Negra Y Criminal is generously decorated to record visits paid by some of the great names of crime and mystery fiction. (I was honoured, then, to take my turn at the time-honoured custom of posing in one of the shop’s branded tee-shirts.)

The longest and most detailed of the interviews I did was probably that with Begoña Corzo of La Vanguardia, for which we were accompanied by the photographer Clara Gabrielli. I really enjoyed our wide-ranging conversation, and am quite happy to have been described as a fellow of ‘muchas caras’, likewise to read that ‘como el doctor Jekyll, este inglés grandote y afable se ve poseído por personalidades intermitentes.’

The special pleasure for me of this interview was that we walked together to the headquarters of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Catalonia, originally the seat of the Reial Collegi de Cirurgìa de Barcelona (Royal College of Surgeons of Barcelona). We then conducted the bulk of our discussions in the rich, red and resplendent surroundings of its finely preserved 18th-century anatomical theatre, named the Sala Gimbernat after the great surgeon and anatomist Antoni de Gimbernat (1734–1790). The minute I walked through its doors, you can imagine, I was in a kind of heaven - and very happy to pose for Clara Gabrielli’s camera with my brow tilted and hands strategically placed on the marble dissecting table (as above.)

In the Sala Gimbernat of Barcelona's old surgical college, March 7 2013. Photo, Clara Gabrielli.
I must say all of the journalists I met in Barcelona was terrifically well-informed and very courteous and it was a pleasure to talk to them: Josep Lambies from Time Out Barcelona, whose write-up isn’t online; Albert Cano of La Opinion a Coruna, who I’m very pleased to say reported me as ‘culto y con capacidad para reírse de sí mismo’; Rosa Mora of El Pais, with whom I had a useful discussion about what Doctor Forrest has to say on public and private healthcare; and a woman from Regio 7 whose name now eludes me but who was most kind in the piece she wrote.

So I consider myself very fortunate - a writer's life is good indeed when one can be treated so well and with such warmth on account of having written a book about the guileful means by which the Deceiver exploits one man’s damnation so as multiply the sum of misery in the world... May I be so lucky again.

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