DGF: Transitioning from features writer to novelist is not a big change really. Nice part about it is, a novel gives the writer more space and fewer restrictions to say want he must say. For years I knew there were a few novels in me just waiting for the “right time” to make a complete commitment to them. At any rate you are asking what inspired me. Well, in my latter years a journalist, I also instructed an adult education course in creative writing for a few years at a local school board. In each semester there was always someone who surfaced as a pleasant surprise and a brilliant inspiration to everyone in the class. And sometimes one of those amazing someones would thank me for being their motivation. Me? Here I was sitting on my research, formulating ideas, getting ready and getting ready. Inspiration has this habit of sneaking up on you.
CW: What about Mexico inspires you?
DGF: I am inspired by the smiles of the people, music everywhere, amazing food and carefree fiesta, and despite the vast majority’s struggle to attain a meagre living, the Mexican capacity to celebrate the little joys of life. I know that when I function in Spanish I am a different person but can not tell you why that is. I neglected to mention the chaos of Mexico in that list. I know of one Mexican who likes to say that chaos defies description. I feel the inspiration everywhere and can’t pinpoint it, can not describe it adequately in this short answer for you.
I wrote a novel instead.
CW: Why did you decide to set your novel in the 1940s?
DGF: It is a combination of where and when, really. Mexico City has an exciting history stretching over 700 years. Numerous authors have found the ancient history a source of great interest for their writing and so there is a generous amount of stories told of these times. By the early 1500s, more populated and highly developed than say London or Paris, it was one of the world’s great cities and in the twenty first century it is once again. So there is a million stories of boom and bust, adventure and hardship to be told. It is an interesting where but the when is for me, even more-so.
The re-birth of the metropolis as we know it today, put down its roots in the first half of the twentieth century and while the rest of the world was caught up in the second great war, the city burst forth to flourish both culturally and economically.
That’s the time period I find so interesting because so much of what happened in the decade of the 40s defines that city, that nation, as it thrives today. The Mexican’s ongoing attachment with the 1940s is something more powerful than nostalgia. In many traditions, in much of the popular music and popular dance and in the defining social protocol, the 1940s lives on. I had to understand why.
I don’t know of another novelist’s effort to re-live the magic of the 1940s.
CW: What are you reading now?
DGF: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. And before you ask, yes I do have a definite preference for historical fiction. These stories take us back in time to places we cannot go and when done right, offer us a valuable, entertaining version of how things might have been.
CW: What authors inspire you?
DGF: It would appear the theme of today’s line of questioning might be inspiration Caroline, but when it comes to other authors I do not think that for me, inspiration is the word. Over time an accumulation of writers such as John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair and John Updike subtlety influenced my perception. This may surprise you, but journalist Andy Rooney’s keen insight and gift of persuasive delivery has been an influencer of how we might look at things. Points of view? I probably am not consciously aware but journalist Paul Harvey’s unique ability to roll out a story must work on me and then too, because you asked about my switch from journalism to novelist, Ernest Hemmingway is on this list because he has shown us it can be done. Seriously though, Hemingway is a great teacher of the power of the unspoken word or more accurately, the power of the unwritten word. And I did say is and not was, because all of his unspoken words are still out there flying around awaiting discovery.
CW: A big thanks to you for joining me today!
"City of Promises" is available now at any of the links below: