«We do not live in the time when women could not sign their name»
Carmen Mola (Antonio Mercero, Agustín Martínez and Jorge Díaz) visited Tarragona this week to present her latest book, The mothers(Alfaguara/La Campana. Penguin Random House Group). It was at the Llibreria Adserà, an establishment that was filled with readers and fans of inspector Elena Blanco, a character who in this fourth installment of the saga «is at a different point, far from the darkness of the first installments. She seeks the light, she wants to start a family », as revealed by her creators. Carmen Mola is also the author of The beast (Planet/Column) with which he won the Planeta Prize last year.
Women and girls raped, tortured, dismembered... Why are all the victims female?
Antonio M: Observing reality, we believe that violence against women is a scourge in this country. So, the black novel, which has an added ingredient of social criticism, must focus on that violence. That's why we tell it.
Does that serve to palliate it?
Agustín M: We are not the ones to palliate it. It is a political issue and it is up to the forces of the State to put an end to this violence. Literature can reflect a reality and make society aware. It is what we have done in our novels, especially in The mothersthat speaks of white slavery, of the exploitation of the woman's body.
It is a very harsh reality. Are hundreds of worms necessary?
JD: There are two things to think about. One is the denunciation function, but the novel also has a component of entertainment and attraction. What is the use of denouncing something if we are doing it in a package that is boring? So no one is going to read it and it's not going to do any good. Before denouncing, we focus on writing entertaining novels that people like. We are tired of seeing campaigns that say that reading makes you cultured, a better person. No. The important thing is that reading entertains you, and once there, that it is useful for something. But if it doesn't entertain you, if it doesn't attract you, it's not addictive, it's useless, no matter what you say.
In any case, in Elena Blanco's series, the female body is like a sparring partner.
Agustín M: I think not. I understand what you are saying, but I think the writer is talking about the world around him. Talking about a woman's body is part of the world around her. You don't have to own that world. Just as one builds a story about a mental illness and you don't have to be mentally ill to talk about it.
JD: But you wouldn't be against a woman writing about men because she has a right to do so.
I'm not talking about being men and writing about women. It is the mutilated body, constantly.
JD: When I put myself in the character of a psychopath, I'm not. So, I don't understand that separation. Are you a man and you can't write about women? Yes. Women make up half of humanity so it is impossible to write outside of the male or female universe. Do we mutilate them? Sure, we do black novel. And if we turn men into the victims of violence, we would be completely skewing reality.
What do you think about surrogate motherhood?
Antonio M: Everyone has their opinion, but the author's opinion doesn't matter.
Agustín M: There is a misconception within the literature, which is spreading. You have to separate the author from the work. We are nothing. We have raised the importance of the author in the last century, in which we are turning them into gods, when they are nothing. Who was Cervantes? It doesn't really matter if he was nice or nasty.
"Ringo, Paul, John and George were the Beatles when they played together. We, when we write together, are Carmen Mola»
It is not your case. Since they became known...
JD: We know because we've read it and because we're not stupid, but it hasn't affected us at all. But it has changed, not because of the gender controversy, but because before no one knew that we were the ones who wrote the novels and now they know, but I assure you that no one has held anything against us, in no presentation and we have done dozens in Spain and in South America.
It never ceases to be curious.
Anthony M: Nobody. Honey, honey, honey.
Agustín M: I make a claim. I understand that the press is interested in what the author thinks, but what has to be analyzed is the novel, working on it.
They are compared to Pierre Lemaitre. Has it influenced you?
JD: We like it.
Agustín M: In the end, it is where you choose to play. You choose a crime novel or a thriller that, in some way, deals with the concept of evil and how it explodes in the form of unbridled violence, sometimes. And in that violence we do not look the other way. If it happens, we count it. It is what Pierre Lemaitre does. And there is also a question of narrative structure, of twists and turns, of tension. But it has not been an overdirect influence or, at least, we have not been very aware of it.
Does evil for evil exist and is it the scariest?
Antonio M: I don't know if bad reasoning is more frightening, knowing that someone kills with a specific motivation, which could be jealousy, greed, money or whatever and, therefore, you can feel it at some point because they are passions of the human being. That is, in a situation of concrete stress, everyone can kill. And I go to the characters of Patricia Highsmith. Which one scares me the most? The badly reasoned I know that there are people who do evil, but it scares me more to see that I can be like that. In our work we have examples of both.
Agustín M: I think there is another evil, which is indifference. It is an established evil in society, in which there is a group of people who are not or do not feel particularly evil, but what they do is cause a lot of pain. And this in the history of The mothers It is obvious. Or the evil that was generated in The beastthat to achieve a certain objective it did not matter to sacrifice children. We take this evil, which is systemic, to the extreme in our novels.
What is going to happen now with Carmen Mola?
JD: We are Agustín, Antonio and Jorge, but when we write together we are Carmen Mola. It's a bit presumptuous to say this and I don't want you to take it that way, but Ringo, Paul, John and George were the Beatles when they played together. Each on their own was something else.
Antonio M: It is a good example. There is no need to apologize. It is the name of the group, Carmen Mola.
Why? They are aware that for many years women could not sign their name...
JD: Are you aware that we have not experienced that?
Did they even think about it?
JD: No. Of course not.
Did they join the bandwagon of feminism?
Augustine M: Why?
JD: I can admit that someone gets upset because the annoyance is marked by the offended and not the offender. I can understand someone being offended. What I can't understand is someone telling me one thing and the opposite at the same time. If you tell me, "since women are oppressed, they have given themselves a woman's name to sell more." No. There you are telling me two contrary things. Either they are oppressed or they sell more.
They sell more...
Augustine M: There are several things that are not true. That is, women do not sell more. It is enough to look at the sales numbers of the books at the end of the year and one sees that there is a balance, which is usually 50%, depending on who comes out.
Antonio M: Now, this month that we are with The mothersAnd we're looking at the list, in the top 10 there are seven men and three women. But you still look at it in two months and it's the other way around, it depends on who publishes.
Agustín M: It is also quite naive to think that by giving yourself a woman's or a man's name you will sell more. At the end of the year many books are published and the success of a book is never based on whether it is a woman's or a man's name on the cover.
Antonio M: But, furthermore, I find it offensive towards women because I have a lot of writer friends who publish under their name and don't sell. So, suddenly feminism is saying, "man, they give themselves a woman's name to sell." So, what do I tell my poor friends, who don't sell with their woman's name?
Agustín M: It was quite evident that on the flap it said that Carmen Mola is a pseudonym.
Yes, of course. And a character too.
Agustín M: A hyper-concise character.
That was growing up with children.
Antonio M: A teacher who has two children and sometimes three.
Very well, yes.
Agustín M: Many times things are analyzed a posteriori. The reality is that the publisher found a book, by a new author, who could not sell in any way, who could not do promotions, who could not give interviews and had no tools. That is to say, everything that is attributed to us as a marketing advantage was actually a disadvantage. The novel worked.
Antonio M. But to maintain that it works because it is named after a woman is absurd.
I only asked why a woman's name.
Antonio M: Because it sounded good to us. And we also tried man.
JD: A pseudonym is a disguise. So for it to work it has to be the opposite of who you are.
Agustín M: When we came out with the Premio Planeta, it seemed as if we had designed what was going to happen.
Agustín M: That can only be said by someone who has never been in the publishing market, who knows nothing about books and who does not know how this works. No one wants to put out a book that doesn't sell. You can't design that, those things happen. We were lucky with the gypsy bride and I think it is more due to a good cover design and a novel that has found its readers. From there, when you're in the third book, people start to wonder who Carmen Mola is. To us she was like the Beatles. She is a name.
JD: A name that sounded good to us, that seemed to hide us. It was loud, like a joke. One of the things we have done in all South American countries has been to translate it.
Will Carmen continue to be cool?
Antonio M: Sure, because we had a good time.
JD: As long as people like it and we have a good time, it will stay that way.