Colin Falconer - Historical Romance in Spain's Golden Age
Colin Falconer has published twenty-six novels so far, and been lucky enough to have them translated into 23 languages. (Real ones too, not just Esperanto and cockney rhyming slang.) In between leaving school and securing his latest publishing deal, he found time to chase black witches across Mexico, travel the silk road, and occasionally play the guitar in bars. His only claim to fame from those days is completing all the verses of ‘All You Need is Love’ during a bar fight in the Stella Maris Sailors Club. A promising career as an elite football player was cut tragically short because he wasn’t very good at it. After a short stint in advertising he became a freelance journalist, then quickly gravitated to radio and television, before and has now been a full-time novelist for over thirty years. He has just signed a deal with Little, Brown in London for a new crime series. As our Author of the Day, Falconer tells us all about his his book, A Great Love of Small Proportion.
Please give us a short introduction to what A Great Love of Small Proportion is about.
It’s about a celebrated artist, Diego Sanchis, who creates beautiful art all over his city but is, himself, no oil painting. He’s a dwarf and people make fun of him, so he’s shut himself away from society. Then one day he takes on a student, Mercedes Goncalvez, one of the most beautiful women in the city. And she doesn’t see what everyone else sees; she sees the beauty in his soul.
If you suspect this development will not go easy on either of them, you’d be right.
The novel is set in Seville and Granada during the last days of the Reconquista, in the 15th century – a time of religious fanaticism, when the Inquisition held Spain in an iron grip. The last scenes take place during the final conquest of the Alhambra in Granada and the defeat of the Moors.
What inspired you to write a historical romance in Spain's Golden Age?
I was living in Barcelona at the time, near the old quarter, was thoroughly immersed in the culture of the place. You breathe the history of the country in through the stones. In the end, I couldn’t help myself writing it. And then visiting the Alhambra in winter – that was a real bonus.
You have published twenty-six novels so far. What is the secret to your success?
Funny, but I don’t see myself as successful. It’s true I’ve been a full time writer almost all my life and my books have been translated into a lot of languages. In that, I’ve been lucky. But I believe I would have done better if I hadn’t written quite so much. (I’ve actually had around fifty books of different genres traditionally published, plus my indies.) But I still wish I’d concentrated on just one genre and branded myself. Focus. That’s the advice I always give to writers starting out, anyway.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I play guitar, badly but enthusiastically. Enthusiasm is important, don’t you think? I trialled with professional football teams in England but didn’t make it. I played semi-pro right through my twenties.
I was a volunteer medic on an ambulance for a long time. I’m quite proud of that.
How has your work in journalism, radio and television influenced your writing?
It taught me to write to deadlines!
Prejudice is a central theme in this book - why did you take this approach?
It’s a theme that bothered me at the time – and still troubles me now. In that sense it’s an historical novel with a very contemporary theme. 500 years later, the world is still struggling with trolls and religious fanatics. Us and them – it’s as much a hallmark of human experience as sex and death.
Do any of your characters take off on their own tangent and refuse to do what you had planned for them?
They wouldn’t dare. Any of them try that and they meet a nasty end. I can do that, and they know it.
What are you working on right now?
My indie work is mainly historical fiction: I have a series in the pipeline when I get time to finish it. My priority at the moment is a crime fiction series published by Little,Brown in London that takes up most of my time. I’m loving those books. It gives me a chance to write about my native London and I have this alter ego thing going on with DI Charlie George.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Go to colinfalconer.org. All of me is there. Including Charlie the spaniel, who is my editor and media relations officer. It’s a role he takes very seriously, or as seriously as a cocker spaniel can treat anything…