|Célia Correia Loureiro
|ALM: Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Célia: I am a 26-year-old Portuguese girl, and I’ve written six books. To be honest, I’ve only published 3 books but I’ve written more. But there is this funny phenomenon: while a book is not published, I can’t consider it finished. I am the eldest of five children, I have two cats and I’m trying to avoid chocolate. It hasn’t been easy.
ALM: What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Célia: My latest published book was “A Filha do Barão”, about the French Invasions of Portugal and the Peninsula War. My last book written, right now in publishing process, follows the same family and is actually a chronological sequence of events. It is called “Uma Mulher Respeitável”. To write, I need to feel intrigued by a subject, enough to dedicate my sleeping hours to it, and to spend the afternoons in the local library doing research. Sometimes I feel more pulled by a personality or a personal event (like a mother losing a child). Other times there is a historical or a bigger event that makes me want to explore the facts and place fictional characters in it. “A Filha do Barão” is about a major event in our history; characters come out strong but History is the main character. As for “Uma Mulher Respeitável”, there isn’t a big special event going on – there is instability and soon to be civil war, there is a cholera epidemic in Ireland -, so this book is about the people in it. The main character is seen through different angles, by different people, and I put her life story together. At the same time, it is a paradox, because I want this people to be in the spotlight, but at the same time I wanted them to be mysterious and have hidden agendas – they may seem a little superficial or cold. So my inspiration for this book was people’s depths, abysses and secrets. Let’s see how well succeeded I’ll be on making these things subtle.
ALM: How long it took you to write your latest book and how fast do you write?
Célia: I divide the book writing in three sections: 1) research. It took me like six months for the last book. 2) writing the book. It took me one year and a half, because I struggled a lot with how to put this book together. It was a huge challenge to make a logical puzzle with the events I tell. 3) revision. Sometimes a lot changes, not only commas and misspelled words. Sometimes I cut in page 100 and decide these events should only take place on page 400. Altogether, I need at least two years to write a proper book. Can’t imagine how one can spit out a book every six months. Sure there isn’t soul in it.
ALM: Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Célia: As I talk to other writers and listen to some authors interviews, I realized it isn’t much different from others. It would be more romantic, but it isn’t. It is a major effort, sometimes. Writing is here and it demands to come out, but I have a full time job and an entire life to live simultaneously. Also, some themes really get to you. Domestic violence, the loss of a little child, a child abandoned on the streets, unanswered love, are some of themes that hurt me on a daily basis while I write about them. I remember going to work and crying at every step. I always listen to music when I write, always. I choose a few songs to guide me and set the mood for each book I write, so when I hear those songs in other context, they’d bring back the emotions and make me cry. For instance, “Big my secret” from The Piano OST, made me cry every time in 2012, while I was finishing “O Funeral da Nossa Mãe”.
ALM: What authors, or books have influenced you?
Célia: I don’t aim to achieve the deeds of any other writer. But if a book influenced me it was “Gone with the Wind”. The manuscript must have about 1200 pages, but each paragraph counts. Margaret Mitchell excelled at depicting her characters’ hearts and souls, and also showing the casualties of the Civil War. It is truly a delight.
ALM: What are you working on now?
Célia: I suffered a shock when I realized that the inventor of “leucotomy”, or “lobotomy”, was Portuguese psychiatrist Egas Moniz. There are schools in my town and hospitals with his name. When I choose to start writing this book, I was quite sure I’d read about a rather cruel, maybe genius but surely cruel and ambitious doctor. Turns out that Egas never even performed a leucotomy himself, and so far in my research he seems like an honest and humble doctor. He invented the theory and supervised the procedures; others took it in different directions. So during the 40’s in Lisbon, we had refugees arriving from every corner of Europe and also spies and great statesman living in our coast line. I am researching for a novel about two sisters with whose controlling and conservative father runs a hotel in Estoril. It will be about their interactions with the foreigners, their claim for autonomy and the obligations for a woman at the time.
ALM: What is your best method (or website) when it comes to promoting your books?
Célia: I like to contact with the readers on Goodreads; it also allows me to understand how they perceive my books. I usually share the events and my thoughts and progress on Facebook. Seems easier like that.
ALM: Do you have any advice for new authors?
Célia: I do. Please know your own language. Don’t follow any model, find your own. But don’t be obsessed with being different. Stick to what you know and if you want to challenge yourself, do some seriously research. Also, don’t state the obvious. Give your reader some credibility. Avoid clichés.
ALM: What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Célia: “Less is more”. I also help writers to correct their manuscripts, people tend to hesitate in cutting things. You don’t need to go around in circles to make people understand what you mean. Make it clear. Or make it subtle. Don’t use three lines to explain two words. If you did, cut it off. “Oh but then my book won’t have 500 pages anymore”… Does size really matters? Surely it doesn’t.
ALM: What are you reading now?
Célia: I am reading the Portuguese edition of North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell. Came out on April 16th, first edition in Portuguese ever made of this classic.
ALM: Who are your favorite authors and what are your favorite books ever?
Célia: My favorite books ever are “Gone with the wind”, “Frankenstein”, “Fortune’s Rocks”, “Of Human Bondage” and “Wuthering Heights”. Hope I am not forgetting any important work of art.
ALM: What’s next for you as a writer?
Célia: I hope I will be able to correct and publish a new version of my first book, “Demência”, which I published when I was 19. I also want to write a book about the Earthquake of 1755 in Lisbon. But first I have to finish the book I am working on now, “Terra Franca”.ALM: Thank you Célia and good luck with your writing.
You can follow Célia and learn more at:
Book reviews blog: http://castelos-de-letras.blogspot.pt/
Personal blog: http://levoyageenrose.blogspot.pt/