We recently received the sad new that our client Hector P Cortes died in hospital on 23rd September. Hector’s family and friends have our sincere sympathy. On a practical note, we will continue to offer Hector’s novel ‘Miura’ to publishers on behalf of his estate. Almost the last thing Hector did before his final illness incapacitated him, was to answer some interview questions for us. We’re very grateful to Hector’s daughter Daniella Robles for her help and for permission to publish the interview, which we do now as a tribute to Hector.
Hector, How did you start writing? What gave you the first impetus to put pen to paper? When did you first start to take yourself seriously as a writer?
Early 2000 – I felt like having a bit of a laugh at the expense of musicians and a lifetime of anecdotes and personal experiences (mine and those of other muzos!) turned into a book called ‘Blow Job; Memoirs of a Trombone Player’. I was hooked on writing from then.
What genres do you write in, and what attracts you to them?
I’m not really attracted to any particular genre, the stories just happen. I’ve written historical novels, thrillers, comedies…I just go with the flow.
When you read a piece of writing by another author, what stands out for you? What do you admire in another writer, what thrills and delights you? Equally, what features of literature today do you dislike?
I like a sense of excitement, a maintained pace and historical fact-based plot-lines; Bernard Cromwell’s ‘Sharpe’ series are ones that stand out for these reasons, and I like his style. The only thing that puts me off an author is if he bores me within the first half of a book – it’s hard for me to get bored reading any book as I love so many different styles so to bore me into putting it down is quite an achievement!
Whose writing do you particularly admire, and why?
For the reasons stated earlier, I truly admire Bernard Cromwell, Carlos Ruiz Zafón who wrote ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ because of his story-telling and peculiar but readably style, and Charles Klein who wrote ‘The Music Master’; perhaps this last one is not well known as it was first published in 1909, but he draws on emotion very strongly and that appeals to me.
Do you read hardbacks, paperbacks, or ebooks?
Always paper! I prefer the feel of a real book in my hands.
Is there still a place today for the printed book?
Of course – they will never be replaced. Nothing beats the smell of a new book or the feel of it in your hands.
You’re a Gibraltarian who has written a story about Spain. How close would a Gibraltarian be to Spain culturally? What would give a Gibraltarian – you in particular – an insight into Spanish history and culture?
I’ve been told before by readers of my other books that I identify very personally with Spain – and I do because I write from what I know. Both culturally and emotionally, as a Gibraltarian the Spanish culture is very much in my blood, all politics aside!
Your novel ‘Miura’ covers a very dynamic and difficult period of Spanish history, the full details of which are still emerging. What drew you to this period and inspired you to write this novel? Did you need to do much research?
The novel was inspired by historical events and conditions that, as a Gibraltarian, my parents and I actually lived through. The knowledge of the bullfights also comes from my experiences as a boy and young man going to see them. What started off as a work of fiction for me, became a historically accurate novel once the death of Franco was woven into it – I uncovered incredible research from various online sources which brought out facts about Franco’s death, rather than the ‘propaganda’ version the Spanish Government put out there at the time.
Do you identify with any of the characters, and if so, why do you think that is?
I don’t personally identify with any one character – never been a bullfighter or a doctor – but I do identify with the combined ethos of the characters.
How do you unwind when you’re not writing?
I spend a lot of my time on Facebook talking to my friends, both old and new. It’s a wonderful way to keep in touch with people.
Imagine your house is on fire and you just have time to grab three books from your bookshelf. Given that most books can be replaced at the local bookshop, what three books are irreplaceable for you, and why?
This is an easy question for me – it would be: My original copies of ‘Music Master’ (Charles Klein) and ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Charles Dickens) because they have been my favourite books since my youth and take me right back there whenever I pick them up. And finally my original copy of King Arthur and his Knights (as retold by Blanche Wilder) as I have always been fascinated by those stories – in fact they play a great part in some of my other published books; and I have instilled that love of Arthurian legend in my daughter Daniella who in turn is already teaching my two little grandchildren all about it.
If you could meet one literary person, past or present, real or a fictional character, who would it be?
Charles Dickens – the man clearly had a good sense of humour and seemed to be quite a character, and he wrote about the social injustices of his day which I spend a lot of time doing online! We’d certainly have a lot to talk about…