Q. Many twists and turns lead to a page-turning confrontation. While the ending is satisfying, it also leaves unanswered questions. How would you respond to a frustrated reader who expects a tightly wrapped conclusion?
A. If I had related a story in which I explained everything, I would have created a passive reader and underestimated his intelligence. If I offered a final solution, he’d read the whole story as if merely reading words—he’d have nothing to do. What I hoped to show is that it’s impossible for the author to explain the whole story to the reader. There are always matters left unexplained, even if motivations are clear. The feeling a reader may have that something was not completed is exactly the point. The reader is part of this story and left with the possibility of concluding the tale with his intelligence and imagination.
Q. You’ve embarked on a new career at a time when a lot of people are thinking of retiring. Has age affected your writing?
A. I’m not sure if it was age per se, but time has helped me gain experience in writing fiction. With aging, however, there’s always the fear that you won’t have the mental agility, reasoning, and clarity—but these fears are more illusory than real. The question really becomes: how long will I be able to produce quality work? The more I age, at least chronologically, there’s also the question of how much time I have left. Of course this is a question I could’ve asked myself in my forties and fifties, but when asked that question in your seventies it bears more weight. Now in my seventies, there’s a great urgency in writing and I’ve dedicated myself more intensely to it.
Q. Are there plans for another Inspector Espinosa mystery?
A. I submitted the latest last week and hope to continue with Espinosa, although I’m not excluding the possibility of a book that doesn’t feature Espinosa. My sixth book, Berenice Procura, didn’t feature him, and while it was well received, readers continued to ask when Espinosa would come back. I’d like to write another book without him to give me, the reader, and Espinosa a rest—we could all have a break.
Q. What are you working on now?
A. After just submitting my last novel, I have no idea about the next one. I’m in a certain limbo between two stories. I don’t like staying in this vacuum for too long. I’m giving myself a week at most before I start a new book.