David Yagüe. Interview with the author of The Last Gothic Queen

David Yagüe grants us this interview

Photography: Jorge Paris. Courtesy of David Yagüe.

David Yague He is from Madrid. Writer and journalist, after sixteen years in 20minutos, now has the Breaking News section in ABC. He is a reference on historical novels and has given conferences, talks and workshops on this genre, in addition to serving as a jury for the Úbeda International Historical Novel Contest award. He is the author of Bravo Tango Seven y The last days of the celestial empire. His new novel is The last goth queen and in this interview, for which I thank him very much, tells us about her and other topics.

David Yagüe — Interview

  • ACTUALIDAD LITERATURA: Your new novel is titled The last goth queen. What do you tell us in it and where did your inspiration come from? 

DAVID YAGÜE: It is a historical novel that tries to reconstruct the capital years of a character as important as forgotten from a fundamental moment in our history such as the Islamic conquest of the Iberian Peninsula: the Queen Egilus, widow of King Rodrigo. His life is a mystery, but we know that it was important because he went down in the chronicles of the time and, furthermore, with a very negative view. Was this really how the chronicles described her? Or was she the scapegoat for a political conspiracy? This is how I have built a novel that has emotion, intrigue, epic and, above all, characters with twists and turns. A historical novel that I think can be enjoyed by everyone, because I do not believe in those fictions about history that seem like they can only be enjoyed by scholars or historians.

I discovered this great queen preparing another manuscript that did not work, where she was a small cameo. But since I started researching her, I had no doubt that she deserved to star in her own novel, as she has.

  • AL: Can you remember any of your first readings? And the first thing you wrote?

DY: Yes, I remember reading a lot of comics and those Barco de Vapor books, Friar Perico and his donkey and the like. But the first book that made me fully enter the world of reading was The Hobbit, by Tolkien, which I took from my older sister. With that book everything changed. 

As a child I drew very basic comics and stories. With 13 years I more or less wrote one little novel in a folio-sized squared-leaf notebook. It was a historical novel set in the Medieval Camino de Santiago.

  • AL: A leading author? You can choose more than one and from all periods.

DY: Many. Tolkien , no doubt. And more than authors, works to which I return from time to time (The Lord of the Rings, The Iliad). Robert Graves and Dennis Lehane are two authors who have fascinated me for years for different reasons. And if we talk about the historical novel Rosemary Sutcliff, Patrick O'Brian and Lindsey Davis are my holy trinity. 

  • AL: What character would you have liked to meet and create? 

DY: The Claudio by Robert Graves (I, Claudio). It is a genius as a literary creation. Rarely have I managed to empathize so much with a real historical figure.

  • AL: Any special habits or habits when it comes to writing or reading? 

DY: No, because I look for any moment to do one or the other and to achieve it, the fewer manias, the better. I take advantage of any time to focus on these things. They are my passion and my life.

  • AL: And your preferred place and time to do it? 

DY: For the nights, In the bed or on the couch at home, when my home is unusually quiet. I don't like reading on the beach at all.

  • AL: What other genres do you like? 

DY: I try to read everything, fiction, essays and also, although I do it much less, poetry and theater. Regarding novel genres, I have to say that crime novels also excite me, although, as I tell you, I try to read everything.

Current outlook

  • AL: What are you reading now? And writing?

DY: I read quite a few things at the same time: right now, the latest novel by the great Mario Escobar, teacher and friend, The Madrid bookstore; an old one by Lorenzo Silva, The name of ours; Don Winslow's previous work, City of Dreams, and a little philosophy book. Furthermore, I am rereading, in comics, the entire Youth of Blueberry.

  • AL: How do you think the publishing scene is?

DY: Whether working in the sector as a journalist, or as an author, I have been linked to this world since 2004 and I assure you that has never been calm or well. It is a complex and difficult world, which is sustained by love, creativity and vocation. It's a complicated scenario, but I wouldn't say it's more or less than before. Before it was the economic crisis, the electronic book and the audiobook or the fact that people now read much less and today and tomorrow it will be Artificial Intelligence. It is a sector that is always wounded, always surrounded, but that always survives. And so it must continue.

  • AL: How are you handling the current moment we live in? 

DY: I work in the breaking news section of a national newspaper! We live in one continuous seizure, but that also means these are interesting times. For a writer and journalist it's not bad news either, although I do tell you that it would ruin a quiet week from time to time.

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