Monday, September 8, 2014

Q&A with author Carlos Aleman

Carlos Aleman is an author and artist. He has written a trilogy of novels, Nuno, Happy That It's Not True, and Diego In Two Places. He lives in Sunrise, Florida.

Q: Did you know you would write a trilogy when you started on the first book, or did the idea develop gradually?

A: The idea developed over years. I didn’t want to let go of the characters and wanted to examine them a little more. The first book, Nuno, started out as historical fiction, but I eventually realized that it could serve as a foundation for a family saga. The final book, Diego In Two Places, seemed to flow naturally out of the desire to answer all the mysteries found in Happy That It’s Not True. Add the elements of parallel realities and magical realism and there are infinite possibilities for interconnecting narratives.   

Q: What kind of research did you need to do for your books?

A: With Nuno, I had to learn about a Cuba of the past that no longer exists. I read books and relied on the recollection of relatives. In Diego In Two Places, I also had to rely on others to help me understand today’s Cuba. The blog by Cuban activist Yoani Sanchez was quite helpful, as well as my e-mail correspondences with people from Havana that happen to be traveling to other parts of the world.    

Q: As someone who writes and also works in the visual arts, how do the two disciplines fit together for you?

A: I like to think of it as a wax on wax off effect. I’ve been drawing and painting my entire life, obsessed with aesthetics. When I started writing in 2008, it seemed natural to channel creativity into words. It’s like learning one instrument and then having a better understanding of what you want to accomplish with a second instrument.

Q: Which authors have particularly inspired you?

A: I’m often inspired by writers that are the children of immigrants, such as Amy Tan and Khaled Hosseini. We all need someone that we identify with to help us visualize ourselves accomplishing goals. I’m proud of Junot Diaz and the late Oscar Hijuelos for their accomplishments. It’s nice to have the shoulders of giants to stand on.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’m currently working on a coming-of-age story set in 1980, which will deal with a 15-year-old boy falling in love with an older girl. While the novel will touch on spirituality, love and eroticism, it will also deal with the dark past of the protagonist's father. 

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I just found out that I am going to be a grandfather again. My first grandchild was born in 2012. For more information about my art and writing, please visit my website.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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