José Javier Abasolo. Interview with the author of Original Version

Photography: José Javier Abasolo. Facebook profile.

Jose Javier Abasolo (Bilbao, 1957) has a new novel on the market, Original Version, where he returns to his character Mikel Goikoetxea in another new case with the world of cinema in the background. It's the latest in a good collection of black genre titles behind him like The Dead Light, The Whitechapel Oath or A Tomb in Jerusalem, among many. I really appreciate your time and kindness in granting me this interview.

José Javier Abasolo - Interview

  • LITERATURE NEWS: Original Version it's your new novel. What do you tell us about it and how is Mikel Goikoetxea doing as a private detective?

JOSÉ JAVIER ABASOLO: The novel begins when Goiko is hired by a production company to be the advisor of a movie that is being filmed on some crimes that occurred in Bilbao Twenty years ago, what the press called "the crimes of the arrowed cross."

In principle, it is reticent to accept the offer, because that's the only case that could not be solved when he was Ertzaina, but on the other hand he considers that it may be a opportunity to reopen undercover the investigation into some murders that continue to haunt him. Although when he realizes that the resemblance between what happened and the film (which instead of Bilbao is set in a lost county in Alabama, USA) is very remote, he will not hide his anger.

As a detective Goiko is doing very well, since he likes to play by his own rules and is quite undisciplined, but sometimes he misses the facilities that working as a team can provide him and with many more means than he has alone.

  • AL: Can you remember that first book you read? And the first story you wrote?

JJA: I remember a collection that adapted classic literary works for children, and in it I was able to read El Lazarillo de Tormes, El Cantar de Mío Cid, Don Quixote and Corazónby Edmundo de Amicis. When I found out when I was older that the latter was included in the Church's Index of Forbidden Books, I couldn't believe it.

About the first thing that I wrote —or, rather, that I tried to write—, I think it was an attempt at a picaresque novel carried over to the XNUMXth century (What are we going to do, I belong to the previous century), but I don't keep it. Fortunately.

  • AL: A head writer? You can choose more than one and from all eras. 

JJA: It is difficult to answer, because it can also change depending on the day or my mood. But as a passionate about the black genre, I regularly reread the greats like Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. I know it sounds like a hot topic, but I think in this case it is a very well-founded topic.

Outside of the black genre, Pio Baroja. And I really enjoyed the humor of Wodhouse and at Jardiel Poncela.

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

JJA: As I said when answering the previous question, it is difficult to answer, because depending on what I am reading or my mood, I can change from one day to the next, but perhaps I would have liked to meet the protagonist of Pío Baroja's novel, Zalacaín the adventurer.

As for what characters I would have liked to create, I settle for the ones I have already created. Not because they are better or more interesting than others, but because they are part of me.

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

JJA: None in particular, although since they told me that having manias when writing sounds "very literary", I usually say that I have the mania of not having manias.

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

JJA: Before I wrote mostly in the afternoon and at night, but since i have retired I do not have preferences, any moment it can be good. Of course, I try to get some time to do it every day. And since I do not like to isolate myself, nor have I set up an office in my home for myself alone, I usually take my laptop to the living room. When my children were young I got used to writing in the middle of the noise they made when they played and I adapted to it without problems. Now I even miss it at the time of writing.

  • AL: Are there other genres that you like?

JJA: I don't think there are good or bad genres, but good or bad novels, regardless of the genre to which they may be ascribed, but since I don't mind getting wet I have to admit that I have weakness for science fiction (I have always been very Asimovian) and for him historical genreBut not for the one who speaks of great kings and generals, but for the one who focuses more on the "sufferers" of history.

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

JJA: En Basque I am rereading Greta, Jason osoro, a very interesting novel that I think is not translated into Castilian, unfortunately. And in Spanish I have started to read Night getawayby Thomas Chastain, which I acquired last Black Week in Gijón. It is a novel by an author that I did not know and that was published in the Júcar collection in the Black Label collection, which generates confidence in me.

As for writing, more than writing I am taking notes for a novel that I want to set in Bilbao, during the Civil War, a few days before Franco's troops occupied the town.

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

JJA: The truth is that I'm not very knowledgeable in those aspects. For many years I have published in two Basque publishing houses, mainly in EREIN and also in TXERTOA, although in this one more sporadically. From the moment they put up with me and continue to trust me, I must think that the outlook is positive.

And speaking more generally, seems to be published a lot, which for me has positive connotations, although I get the impression that on the latter not everyone agrees with me. And, with all due respect, I think that is the wrong position, because quality often comes from quantity.

  • AL: Is the moment of crisis that we are experiencing being difficult for you or will you be able to keep something positive for future stories?

JJA: I guess just as difficult as for the rest of the citizens. Fortunately, among the people who are closest to me, there have been no serious problems as a result of the covid, but this is not over yet and we must continue to maintain precautions, although with the vaccines it seems that we are beginning to leave the tunnel.

As for if I keep something positive to write a story, for now I will let it pass, I am not attracted to writing about the pandemic, although you never know what the future may hold, so I do not rule it out outright either.

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