Elena Moya Interview
Have you always wanted to write a book?
Yes since I was 7 or 8, playing basketball on an earthy ground in Tarragona (just south of Barcelona, on the Mediterranean coast) I dreamt about writing a novel.
What took you on the path to journalism?
Reading too much Tintin and a general interest and curiosity in how things work made me a Journalist, and helped me win a Fulbright scholarship to do a Masters in Financial Journalism in the US. Living 2 years very close to San Francisco opened my eyes to many things -not least seeing two women holding hands and kissing for the first time in my life.
So you discovered your sexuality at Uni?
Always a lesbian at heart but it was out of my world to try anything with the women I secretly fancied in the Opus Dei-owned University, which I attended.
What happened next?
After seeing that what I dreamed all my life was a possibility, I moved to London 12 years ago. I popped into the Candy Bar the first night after arriving. I talked to nobody and nobody talked to me.
It was a shame Citypink didnít exist then!
Yes! During my initial years at Bloomberg, despite working 12 hour-days I still managed to experiment in life as I always wanted to, and saw more women that Iíd probably want to admit! The crazy days eventually waned, and little by little I found a more relaxing job at Reuters, to finally move to the Guardian, where I cover credit, hedge funds and the likes. I am also settled in a very nice relationship, living in a lovely home in Stoke Newington, with my cat. My lesbian dream came true!
So what made you come back to the idea of writing a book?
It was in the depths of the Andean jungle, during a 4-day trek along the Inca trail towards Machu Picchu, that I got the determination of doing something that really challenged and made me happy: write a book. I enrolled at the 2-year Creative Writing Diploma at Birkbeck, and after much moonlight work I got the project working.
I chose a subject, the Spanish Civil War, that I was passionate about and that I wanted to read, travel and seek more knowledge. My very patient girlfriend came with me to numerous trips around Spain -which I sold to her as ďwine tastingĒ to get her on board. True, we did some of that but she would have to drive with me to cemeteries along the Ebro river looking for bullets on the walls.
How long did it take to research and write?
That passion carried me through the four years of hard work. Novel writing is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration. It involves tons of discipline and hard work. Forget about having a glass of wine and writing, or taking a laptop to a lovely cafe. No. For me writing a novel was sound solitary work, at home, with zero noise around. Hundreds of details are buried in the 122,000-word work, and one has to bear them present in the mind -at once. Wine and music or cafes didnít help me.
After all the hard work, it comes the time that one feels itís got the bull by the horns. The exciting sense of control comes towards the end, when chapters flow quickly and when one types almost breaking the keyboard because of the joy and challenges accomplished.
How did you go about getting it published?
Publishing the work is another ball game: a matter of insistence, luck, perhaps even talent. But it was a random decision that I had the luck to get, amid huge pitching, I must admit. Sharing your inner work is quite scary at the moment, because family and friends will feel that youíve done everything in the novel.
But we were warned against that at Birkbeck, we were told we had to write thinking that nobody would ever read it, otherwise you self-censor. Although I cut a few sex scenes after I learning that I would be published! But donít worry I kept the main one!
Phew! What advice would you give to anyone considering writing a novel?
I could only encourage Citypinkers to go and write whatever experiences, interests or short stories that they have in mind. Itís a great and very self-fulfilling process. It doesnít need to be a novel, it can be a short piece that nowadays can be bound quite elegantly and cheaply. Go for it!
Elena is having a reading and Q&A at Gays the Word bookshop on 4th March. See our events page for more information.
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