Author of The Hand of Yemanja
Questions by R. Murry
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I was born in Chile but exiled with my family after the coup in 1973. I was raised in the Netherlands and in the United States. Although I live in Amsterdam at the moment – and consider myself to be Dutch in many ways, I could just as easily call myself Chilean or American. That I write in English is due only to the fact that I developed these skills whilst living in the US. Other than that, I’d like to see myself as something of ‘world-citizen’
Do you remember the first story you wrote?
As a teenager in Texas, in the mid-eighties, I was playing in bands and I began to experiment with poetry and song writing. You could say that the first time I felt the need to communicate anything to the outside world; it was in the form of a song.
During this same period, something significant happened in my life – nothing too heavy - but it required me to reflect a lot. That’s when for the first time I planted myself behind my father’s typewriter to fictionalize my situation in order to make sense of it. I kept at it day and night for three months!
Were you inspired by someone or something?
This event in my life made me realise that writing was something I had in me and that it would develop into something important – and that eventually I would write a book.
I have always liked reading, but it wasn’t until I read Henry Miller in my mid-teens that I really began to see it as an art, a very powerful thing.
What do you like about writing a story?
It is the art of lying! You first find a way to transport yourself to an imaginary place and then you realize – or should realize – that you are able to pull others to it as well.
Can you tell us about your book?
Not long after the turn of the twentieth century, a child, my father’s grandmother, travelled from Italy to South America, a part of the biggest migration to the Americas the world had ever seen. For some reason, very little is known about this lady and whom I can only remember from the time I was a small child myself. From family I did learn she had become a midwife at some point, played some on the stock market and ended up leaving a modest fortune at the time of her death in the early seventies. This provided me with the basis and the opportunity to let fiction take over. And the fact that there is no one in the family, furthermore, who can really explain to me how she exactly managed to accumulate all the assets she left behind, was ultimately the void that got filled by this book.
What genre best fits for the book?
Historical fiction – though in no way I would consider it to be a historical document. I would rather label it as a character-driven novel set in a specific period in history.
Are you working on something new at the moment?
I just signed up with a literary agent that will start promoting the book into different markets to sell the translation rights. The idea is to have the sequel finished by the fall of 2014.
Last year I won a prize at the Amsterdam Film Institute and Museum with an experiment, in which I combined my narrated work with music and (lost) archive film footage. This put me on path of ‘Lit-Cinema’, which I am now expanding and developing and will sometime in the future I hope will become a new literary form or product - be made available via mobile apps.
You can find the Lit-Cinema series from the book on my website; http://claudiotapia.com/lit-cinema/
and samples of other work on YouTube;
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
You know you are a writer, because writing has always been there, pulling at you. One day you may feel like there is a book missing on your shelve and there is nothing on Amazon either, which you care to really invest in. That’s the moment you will have a DUTY - to write THAT book. It will need to be written, regardless whether it ever gets published or if anyone ever reads it even.
Be your own audience, and if what you’ve written is worth reading, it will find its way.
Don’t panic, just keep writing.
Where can people go to read your work?
The Hand of Yemanja is available via all on-line retailers, like Amazon.com, Smashwords.com and Barnes and Noble. You can also get them at www.blackrosewriting.com.
Do you have anything to add?
I believe that these are exciting times. New technology has brought great new opportunities - for writers and publishers alike.