Aísa Mighty Sea. Interview with the author of Who Has Seen a Mermaid?

Photography: courtesy of Mar Aísa Poderoso.

Aísa Mighty Sea She is from Zaragoza, a professor with a degree in History and a writer. His latest novel is ¿Who has seen a mermaid? In this interview He tells us about her, her career, interests and projects. Thank you for your kindness and your time.

Mar Aísa Poderoso - Interview 

  • LITERATURE TODAY: Your new novel is entitled ¿Who has seen a mermaid? What do you tell us about it and where did the idea come from?

MIGHTY SEA AÍSA: It is a second case of the Cárdenas brothers, which can be read independently of the first, Dostoevsky in the grass. They are crime noir novels, set mainly in Logroño, the city in which I have lived for twenty-six years, and starring Diego Cárdenas, a deputy police inspector and his sister, Lucía, a translator. The two are in a difficult time, disenchanted with life. Precisely their mutual support and their complicity in solving cases will lead them to find themselves, little by little.

There are also different microcosms with secondary characters who have won the affection of readers like the coroner, Diego's fellow police officers, or Lucía's at the translation agency. I began to write this second case, even before publishing the first novel, because I was convinced that these characters had more of a journey; I myself wanted to know what directions they were going to take. 

The beginning of my novels usually comes to me with an image, a flash. In this case it was that of a little mermaid on the Gothic façade of San Bartolomé, a beautiful church located in the center of Logroño. Right there the novel begins. He faced the challenge of maintaining the essence of the first, but giving it newness.

In this case, Diego faces the appearance of a dead elderly couple at his home, in what seems a clear case of gender violence. The discovery of some old letters hidden in a dressing table, together with an agenda in which some strange appointments with a fortune teller appear, will lead to a turn to the investigation. The novel's settings also take us to places like Paris or Zaragoza, my hometown, in which a scene always unfolds. 

Readers are already sending me their impressions; They love it and are appreciating the balance between a captivating plot, characters they feel comfortable with and want to meet, the atmosphere and the emotions. It seems important to me that, in addition to the plot, the reader can savor and find other aspects that continue to resonate when it is finished. Another singularity are the references to art, history or classic cinema, embedded in the story itself. 

I love that they tell me that they want to finish it to discover the mystery, but that, at the same time, they feel sorry for them because they feel very comfortable inside the novel. I will not reveal much more, it is better that the readers themselves discover it for themselves.

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

MAP: I write because I am a reader. A reader who has been and is very happy reading since she was a child. Before learning to read, I remember the stories my grandmother told me before going to sleep. Then came the die-cut tales of Ferrándiz. Later Enid blyton, Victoria holt… And, finally, the jump to the hundreds of books that my father had in the bookstore. Undoubtedly, Agatha Christie It was the great discovery. Later came other authors such as Pearl S. Buck, Leon Uris, Mika Waltari, Colette, etc. From very early on I got used to going with my father every Friday to a bookstore and buying two books for the week. Thus I also began to form my own library. I remember it as pure happiness. 

I wrote my first story when I was seven, in second of EGB. I remember because that course my teacher gave me to read at home her own copy of The Little Prince; I felt like the happiest girl on earth. This encouraged me to write my own stories in a notebook that my mother lined with green and blue paper.

During the adolescence, in some classes in which it was difficult for us to keep our attention, he wrote Romantic stories for my companions, set in a country they chose, the rest was up to my imagination. Curiously, it is a genre that I have not played again.

Back in 2001 I decided to write my first novel. For my training of BA in History I was attracted to the historical genre. I submitted her to a prestigious award, which, of course, I did not win. However, I really enjoyed that trip to Madrid to hand-deliver the manuscript to the publisher itself. It was a very fun and unforgettable experience.

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

MAP: I couldn't choose one; I have enjoyed many authors, whose books I have read at different stages and moments in my life.

I love the literature of the XIX and first half of the XX:Jane Austen, The bronte, Flaubert, Stendhal, Balzac, Oscar Savage, Tolstoy, Dostoievski, Emilia Brown Bazan, Clarín, Wilkie Collins, Edith Wharton, Scott Fitzgerald, Forster, Evelyn Waugh, Agatha Christie or Némirovsky.

Closer in time, I could cite many others: Isabel Allende, Carmen Martin Gaite, Paul Auster, Donna Leon, Pierre Lemaitre, Fred Vargas and many others. They all have in common that they have made me enjoy, reflect or have moved me. Each of them has left an imprint on me; I've learned from all of them. In the end, the style of a writer is built from his personality, experiences and, of course, readings.

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

MAP: I will choose two: Ana Karenina, with which he would have a conversation about life and love. I would love to walk with her through the streets of St. Petersburg, although I think that after we had some tea, the great Tolstoy might have annoyed the end.

Another character with whom I would love to enjoy an evening is with the great Gatsby. I wouldn't mind touring New York in your company. They seem to me fascinating characters, full of lights and shadows, of nooks and crannies, of nuances.

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

MAP: I like it, if it can be, write alone and in silence, but I adapt. As an anecdote I will tell you that Who has seen a mermaid? I finished it in Zaragoza, sitting on a sofa, imprisoned behind a mattress in a crowded room, while my husband and children painted and assembled furniture. Sometimes you can't choose. 

To read I only need a good book, the rest is indifferent to me.

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

MAP: There are places where I focus better. In my house Logroño I have a little desk in front of a window through which I see trees sway and people come and go; It is a place that gives me serenity and where I am very comfortable. In summer, I really enjoy writing in my house in Medrano where I have some beautiful Mountain View. There i started Who has seen a mermaid? However, Dostoevsky in the grass It arose during a vacation in Vinarós. The tue it is also very inspiring. 

Regarding the time of day, I prefer to write at early mornings, when everyone is still asleep and the house is silent. Another time I usually take advantage of is evening. Never at night, then I prefer read. In my case, reading nourishes me to continue writing. It is an everyday act.

I am a teacher and I have to reconcile my work and my family life, but I try to write every day, even if it's just a few words. I believe, without a doubt, that you can always make time for what you care about and are passionate about.

  • AL: Are there other genres that you like?

MAP: As a reader I love the narrative and I also enjoy the historical novel. I do not rule out launching myself one day as a writer with these genres.

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

MAP:I'm reading Instinct, by Ashley Audrain. It is a fascinating novel, very original. A psychological thriller that talks about motherhood and that stirs, does not leave indifferent. From a narrative point of view, the use of the narrator in the first and second person is very interesting, as well as the time jumps. I recommend it, without a doubt.

I am with a third case of the Cárdenas brothers, located in spring. Dostoevsky in the grass develops in autumn and Who has seen a mermaid? in winter. However, I have new ideas bubbling in my head. For a writer there is an exciting moment: when you think you can be close to a good story.

  • AL: How do you think the publishing scene is? Do you think it is going to change or has it already done so with the new creative formats out there?

MAP: There is no doubt that the publication rate es vertiginous. There are a couple of very powerful publishing groups that dominate the market and a multitude of small and medium publishers that have to compete with quality or with a very specific proposal. However, it is true that there are different ways by which an unknown author can reach the publication of his books. There have never been so many possibilities and opportunities as now. After publication, a journey begins in which the author has to be one hundred percent involved. Without a doubt, social networks are an essential ally to make yourself known and promote your books. We all know that it is not easy and that the offer is huge, but for me, every reader who invests their time and money in your book is a wonderful prize That more than compensates for the effort invested. 

In my heart my dream was to publish, obviously. A writer writes because he enjoys it, because he loves that moment of sitting down to create characters and stories, because he needs it like breathing. But, above all, write so that they read it, so that others can also enjoy their stories. 

It is true that publishing seemed unattainable to me. For a long time I dedicated myself to writing in a very private way, only my husband knew. He is my first reader, he is very critical in the best way, and that is why I trust his judgment. Sometimes, something has to happen that pushes you to take the first step. In my case, it was the loss of two very dear ones in a very short time. At that moment I was fully aware that there is a point in life of no return. When everything ends, you only take what you have lived, what you have enjoyed, what you have loved. I thought I didn't want to regret when it was too late and that I had nothing to lose by trying.

It is true that there are many people who write and want to publish, we have to be realists. It is a long-distance race in which you have to take steps, be persistent and work seriously On it. 

  • 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?

MAP: We are in a complex moment, I would almost say that in a change of time. As a historian I know that crises happen, even if it is very hard while you live them, and that afterwards better times always come. At least, I wish it for the new generations. Regarding literature, art or music, perhaps the most imposing works have arisen in the darkest periods. Culture is light, it always saves.

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