A few weeks ago I read and reviewed a Spanish crime novel that left me almost speechless. El guardián invisible by Dolores Redondo has been on the Spanish best-selling lists for 3 years, and there is a reason why. You can check my spoiler-free review here if you missed it or download a promotional PDF here.
Now, the novel is being released in the UK next April by Harper Collins under the title The Invisible Guardian. To celebrate I have had the pleasure of exclusively interviewing Dolores Redondo and we are also giving away 5 copies of The Invisible Guardian, thanks to Hayley Camis from Harper Collins. Please read the following before entering:
- We are giving away 5 copies of The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo, each one to a different person.
- This giveaway is UK-only.
- To enter you just have to leave a comment below indicating that you live in the UK.
- This competition closes on the 2nd of February at 23:30 GMT. Winners will be selected using the True Random Number Generator and notified via e-mail. If any of the winners were not to reply in 48 hours, another one would be selected.
Best of luck!
Dolores Redondo for Books & Reviews
When I first contacted Dolores’ agent, we reached an agreement that I would post the questions in Spanish to her, she would reply in Spanish as well, and then I would translate them into English for my readers. I hopeI have mantained Dolores’ passion for her female characters and the Baztán Valley. Welcome to B&R, Dolores!
Which was the inspiration for the Baztán trilogy and main character Amaia Salazar?
The trilogy was born out of a wish to write about different aspects of life and the traditional culture in the Basque Country and Navarra, an area in Spain with a different tradition, related to matriarchy, an important historical heritage, their own language, Euskera, and the consequences of having been the place where most witch trials were celebrated by the Spanish Inquisition; an abrupt – yet green – environment and the closeness to the French border make this a perfect place to speak about the magical tradition, which has merged here with Christianity and which is still alive nowadays. There was also a real life inspiration: a couple belonging to a magical sect sacrificed their 14-month old, a theme present in the trilogy: being hurt by those who should protect you – sadly something pretty in fashion right now – the perverted faith that justifies murder as an offer to the gods, demons or any other godly creature that could feel praised.
You make a great job of representing violence against women in different stages of their lives. But you also show that there is a way out, especially with the help of other women and that is something new in crime fiction. Could you tell us a bit more about this issue?
My work won an award from the Instituto de igualdad por la defensa de las víctimas (Equality Institute for the Defence of Victims), not a very bookish award, but one that makes me really proud.
Traditionally, women have been in charge of both businesses and the homes, since men were sailors who migrated to America for long periods of time, so feminine roles have never been seen as a challenge to men’s masculinities. It is true that women’s independence – women who lived alone, midwives, healers, all with an economic independence and a some kind of control over maternity even from the Middle Ages –led the Catholic Church to prosecute, condemn and burn dozen of my own ancestors for witchcraft. The novel – The Invisible Guardian – is set nowadays with an all-female family in a very similar environment, but also completely ware of others’ incursion on their own lives. This usually creates conflicts, but it extraordinarily strengthens women’s role in society, in their relationship to their partners, and professionally.
Amaia is a great detective, and despite that, she still has to face discrimination against her for being a woman from her male colleagues. How important was it for you to write a female detective and portrait the difficulties she faces?
Professional jealousy are something common to both men and women in their Jobs, but it is true that when Amaia is put in charge of an all-male Homicides division, she gets the feeling she has to prove her real value. I have had the pleasure of talking about this with some real-life detectives who admitted to feeling identified with the situation… All of this while trying to maintain a balance, because Amaia’s personal life is as fragile as her professional life is strong.
Maternity plays a key role in the story, very much influenced by the Catholic imaginery of Virgin Mary, but also by Pagan culture. Which difficulties did you find while trying to combine both modes of representation?
The truth is that I found no problem at all. The religion practiced in this area before Christianity was based on a Mother-Goddess to whom people asked for fecundity, easy births for cattle, good harvest, and to whom they offered local fruits. It is true some other goddesses existed, some of them monstrous, who have inspired the killer’s behaviour and identity in the novel. But the Mother-Goddess is the mother of the earth, it is also Virgin Mary, which is the most important goddess. Maternity is present in all of my novels, even when it implies crimes against someone’s own children. But there also many other aspects: women owning their own body, their decision to become a mother or not, society’s expectations, the difficulties of balancing a professional life and motherhood; but above all I focused the novel on the image of the monstrous mother, able to hurt her own child. So, I took the place’s tradition and resuscitated it in order to be able to include these mythological beliefs – which, by the way, are included in historical treaties – and establish a link with other European imaginaries that appear with different names, but that share their magical characteristics. I am sure many UK readers say: ‘I’ve heard those stories when I was young, about those monsters or magical creatures.’
Do you read crime fiction? Who are your favourite authors?
I read everything, not crime fiction only. I truly believe crime fiction writers should read about other issues and themes. But I confess I am a fan of P.D James, who I try to honour in my novels, Agatha Christie, Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell, Thomas Harris…
This post is part of the UK blog tour for Dolores Redondo’s The Invisible Guardian. OUT on 23th April 2016. See more dates here: