faq: frequently asked questions
Question: Tell us about your third novel, El hombre de El Cairo (The Man from Cairo)…
Answer: The Man from Cairo, the second novel in the series featuring Dutch police inspector Cristina Molen, is set in Amsterdam and Cairo. Its plot is structured around two axes: the illegal traffic of weapons and the threat arising from Islamic radicalism. As in El último cliente (The Last Customer), the previous novel in the series, The Man from Cairo offers a fast-paced read, full of action and suspense.
Question: Why did you choose a woman as the central character in your crime fiction series?
Answer: My intention was to create a series that, without departing from the canons of the genre, would stay away from the clichés that plague crime fiction (antisocial, smoking and alcoholic male detective)
Question: Why Amsterdam?
Answer: Amsterdam is an ideal setting for a thriller. Besides being one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, the constant presence of water creates multiple reflections, sometimes misleading. Secrecy and deception play a fundamental role in the plot of the two novels in the series, The Last Customer and The Man from Cairo.
Question: The Man from Cairo is a sequel of The Last Customer, or are both novels independent?
Answer: Both novels were written to be read independently, but they share some common elements. In my personal opinion, The Man from Cairo goes several steps forward in terms of character depth and plot complexity.
Question: The Man from Cairo is also the name of an American movie. Was your book inspired by it?
Answer: The Man from Cairo was shot in 1953 and counts George Raft, one of inspector Molen´s favorite actors, in the main role. Although my novel shares the title with that movie, there are no plot ties between the two.
Question: As in The Last Customer, the reader finds in The Man from Cairo many cinematographic references. Is Jacinto Rey as much of a cinephile as inspector Molen?
Answer: Yes, but inspector Molen knows much more about cinema than me. Like many cinephiles, Cristina Molen finds frequent parallels between her "reality" and cinematographic fiction.
Question: Tell us the name of a movie that you never get tired of watching.
Answer: Carol Reed´s The Third Man. It is a film that has it all: the setting in post-war Vienna, the expressionist light, the sad look of Alida Valli, and the best ending in film history. It is also one of the favorite movies of Cristina Molen.
Question: The plot in The Last Customer offered some dark, desperate tones. Does The Man from Cairo follow the same line?
Answer: All crime fiction novels have dark tones, precisely because the genre provides a springboard to explore the misery and despair of human beings. Having said that, I believe that the two novels in the series, The Last Customer and The Man from Cairo, offer some hints of optimism. Their characters are never fully immersed in that despair.
Question: How does inspector Molen evolve along the two novels in the series?
Answer: In this second installment, inspector Molen continues to show her independent and stubborn personality. In The Man from Cairo she will be forced to confront the contradiction between her desire to be a mother and her fear of committing herself in a stable relationship.
Question: Have you visited all the places described in The Man from Cairo?
Answer: I have visited a good part of those places, but many have been adapted by my imagination or altered due to narrative needs. My goal has never been to write travel guides, but to invent a believable story that makes the reader forget that s/he is reading a book.
Question: Many writers, in Spain and abroad, write crime fiction these days. Do you offer something unique?
Answer: Readers are better placed than me to answer that question. All I can say is that, while writing my two detective novels, I had two goals in mind: first, to provide an absorbing story full of intrigue; second, to provide the reader with a mirror in which he can see a reflection of human nature, maybe even of himself.
Question: Which are the main themes dealt with by The Man from Cairo?
Answer: The two novels in the series are written to provide fast-paced and entertaining reading, but they also enable a deeper perspective. The main issues dealt with in The Man from Cairo are the lack of communication and the pursuit of happiness. Like all human beings, my characters often discover themselves lost in the fog.
Question: Are any of your characters inspired by reality?
Answer: Inspector Molen´s dog is inspired by Stitch, my Golden Retriever. My dog, however, prefers the music of Mozart rather than Beethoven.
Question: The Man from Cairo is your third novel and your second thriller. Your first novel, The Surgeon of the Indies, could be classified as historical fiction. Is your transition to crime fiction definitive?
Answer: In life, and even less in literature, there is nothing definitive. I acknowledge, however, that I have a lot of fun writing crime fiction. In addition to structuring a plot that continually surprises the reader, detective novels allow you to explore the human soul, the greatness and misery that every human being is capable of. Regardless of the genre, I think that the priority for a writer should be to invent good stories and to narrate them in such a way that the reader forgets that s/he is holding a book.
Question: What are your hobbies, when you are not writing books?
Answer: In my spare time I enjoy skiing, taking long walks with my dog, playing tennis and spending time with my friends and family. And to read everything that falls into my hands.
Question: Which authors have influenced you? What are your favorite works?
Answer: It is impossible to make an exhaustive list, but I would mention García Marquez, Thomas Mann and Saint-Exupéry. In the crime fiction genre, my favorite authors are Jean-Claude Izzo and Lawrence Block.
Question: Will there be a third installment in the series of Inspector Molen any time soon?
Answer: Right now I am working on it. My intention is to finish the third book of the series during the course of 2011.