Thursday, February 12, 2015

Looking through the words that whisper emotions

By Dolores Luna Yelizarov
On this occasion we are joyous because our Learning and Neurodevelopment Research Center is honored to meet a Spanish writer who has filled with emotion not only her books but so many readers, and at this time she is literally taking to Latin America to a very emotional journey. She writes novels that are filled with the human essence. Her name is Mayte Esteban and she has given us not only time, but a bit of herself, so we invite you to know her a little bit of it.

Mayte tell us: since when you become a writer and how did you get inspiration?

I started to write novels when I was only 10 years old, a complete daring!, but it is true that from such a young age I felt a need to put in writing the stories that I imagined. At the beginning, obviously everything came out was mere learning, but writing has always been present in my life and stayed with me now that I am an adult.

What did push you to take a path of letters?

I grew up in a library! In my village it was openened a Cultural Center and library’s windows  were orientaded directly to my house. I started  visist it and I discovered in books wonderful worlds that immerse me every evening, when I returned from school. That is how I started to make contact with great authors, and not only through its printed novels, sicne this library always had visits of writers who were very inspiring. As I said, I had begun to write since many years ago but I did not share it with anyone, I felt much modesty. My family knew my wirting passion, but they don't read anything I wrote those years because it did not allow it. 

The first time I allowed to read something  I wrote was as a birthday present to my great aunt. She was 90 years old and I thought that  she has already received all kind of all possible gifts, so I grabed  a tape recorder and ask her to tell me her life. In the next hour she told me just a piece, but with that material I wrote, in one night, a story about it. I printed it with a book format,  I prepared it and I gave it to her as birthday present. 

No doubt it is an incredible gift!

Honest,  that little story was hand by  hand, surprising me with all the criticism, and it was a germ of what would later become La arena del reloj. My father told me that we had to do something when he  would decide retire from work, but it might not be as we planned it,  because life  gave us a shove: My father got sick with cancer and that accelerated the writing of that book. Actually I wanted any grief because we knew that that story had an end writen. All this happened between 2005 and 2006.

Practically life put you  writing as gift...

Yes, however, it was not until 2008, when  I was 38 years, when I decided to take the next step of presenting a story in a competition. It was a big surprise for me when I found out that my story had won a prize and that made me to continue losing fear. What I had written up to that moment I had shared it only with my family  so I thought that all their enthusiastic reviews had much to do with the love that they give me. So that  award was, first and foremost, lowering the level of that suspicion and motivation that emerged after winning another contest, which had matched a small prize, pushed me to try with the auto-edition. 

In a North American site called Lulu,  I layout la arena del reloj and I made an order from four books, which began to move from person to person and I had to request more, because the publicity ran from mouth to ear. I really wanted to give a copy to the library where I grew up, so I took it. After read it, librarian asked me to be part of a talk about auto-edition publishing. She sensed that it was a phenomenon that would give much to talk about. As indeed I had not done a publishing rule, but rather to demand, I decided to document well. How? Since starting things from the beginning.

What happened after seeing your book, not only on paper, but in the hands of readers?

I searched one of the novels that I wrote when I was very young, in fact the only one that  I had finished (because when I was young, I felt tired, and let my novels witten in a half). I read it, changed it a bit because life had also changed since I wrote it, and I did all the legal paperwork with it.  That was Boy for rent, that is a juvenile novel that, despite what the title may suggest is very light; a simple fun. I gave the talk and then shared those two novels free online. I didn't expect anything happen, but one day I found that someone had writen me a review in a blog from Mexico about this novel. A few days after,  I found another to the sand of the clock. My blog started to receive visits and followers; I realized that, even if it was all a hobby for me, people considered my stories as novels, and me as a writer.
It was surprising and disconcerting.

No doubt, your talent was discovered!

In 2011 Amazon arrived in Spain and some authors dared to raise his books. I, who did time analyzing this phenomenon from Detrás del Cristal, I thought perhaps it was a good opportunity to put me to the test of truth and in March 2012 published  El medallón de la magia. Then I thought that all novels should be on the same platform and that summer I put them all together. I wasn't expecting all the public response. All, without exception, have been number one in their categories on more than one occasion. 

In 2013, in February, Detrás del cristal, my fourth novel, marked a before and an after for me as a writer. Fifteen days after uploading the file, not only was among the ten most sold in Spain but in my desk editorial offers that I had to assess accumulated. I decided by Ediciones B, and since July of that year was part of its catalogue of authors. The novel has been in all the libraries of Spain and recently started their way to Latin America. On Amazon I came to occupy the number 2, something that seemed to be an impossible dream.
A dream behind a lot of  work...

As you see, little by little, step by step and without following the path that was supposed to be marked, ended up arriving at the place that had me booked destination. Now I have already published the fifth novel, Brianda, which is the next of the magic Medallion.
Did you how to recognize that you could take letters as your flag?

Writing was born with me. As I have explained, it come where I am was not a plan drawn up beforehand, but that I was following my own steps. It is true that in this process there has been consistency, which I have not given up at any time. I have allow it to lead me, but at the same time I have been putting everything on my part to learn from everything that was happening to me.

There are authors who like to describe places, or people, but you describe emotions, how come did you decide to allow to readers to feel those emotions and how did you decided to share emotions?

I do not know. When I start a story I never use typical resources like telling readers how physically is a character, but broadly speaking. I let my characters to speak and, through their words, each reader will be composing an idea of how they are. I think that it happens just as in life. When you know someone, the first thing you see is obviously a physical side, but until you do not share a conversation you don't have the idea of how that person is. Perhaps that is the reason why I focus more on the emotions that each character lives. I try to put me in their place, I think what would (or sometimes what would not do) and I narrated it from that point of view.

In my stories, the dialogue has much weight because readers can make decisions about each character. You can understand why he or she  behaves in this or that way without being conditioned by me. That causes that sometimes they surprise me so  much with  interpretations that readers make to each one of my characters.

What  all my stories have in common is that I tend to use quite shocking history triggers. Detrás del cristal, for example the behavior of the protagonist not only is atypical, but it assumes that the reader is positioned against it (especially if the reader is a mother) because what it does is not good, it is complete madness. I was looking for this, when someone is closer to history he thought what would do. It is a desperate situation that conceals very serious problems that are the order of the day. If you advance reading, that feeling that what he has done is very bad is diluted because you're understanding it, even if you think that you never therapist as she did. Having chosen a tone of comedy for something so serious was something that I valued very much. Little by little, the story loses lightness and wins in depth, and what looked like a sweet candy just having a bitter taste because it puts you in the position to consider what would have made you. And you discover that it is not as easy to make decisions when you're desperate.

I think that emotions help us to learn as much as reasoning.

I would at this time change the idea a little bit. Is said to have the most people don't read, that the publishing industry is detrimental, with this in perspective, why you decide not only to write, but to publish?

Because I lost nothing by trying it. Not intended to get out of my circle and helped me to give a decent format to the book which had served as trigger of everything, that was the sand of the watch, a book that is the most special thing I have for his subject. Later, the arrival of Amazon and a phrase that I myself had written behind the glass convinced me that I could: "is allowed to make mistakes. The coward is not try." And I tried it. Today I can say proudly that I have readers from many corners of the planet who feel well to read my stories. That is more than rewarding.
How do you think it would be the world without letters or words?
We are words. We distinguish ourselves from other animals for many things, but certainly what made a difference was precisely that we develop mechanisms to communicate. With words we were transmitting knowledge, emotions, values, and of them I am sure that it depended to a large extent our survival as a species. Words have the power to change the world and better that strength.

If you could design a school and have all the resources to make that space exactly what you believe to be a school, would what you put in it?

I think that physical space is the first thing you would change. These tables looking to a blackboard are not good. I was lucky at the University for the last two years in a small group that we were only ten students, and to be the specialty of geography and need space to extend maps, place the tables forming a wider. We sat around and no one, not even the Professor, occupied a predominant place. It was a space for dialog and when the class ended, that it had become very short, you felt that you had learned a lot. They were not classes listen without more, but sharing impressions.

I had a teacher who told us one day that store data that can be found didn't make sense. In a specialty like mine. why would you waste your time remembering, for example, how many people is in Chicago if tomorrow the number  will be no longer the same? That is something that you can look at a particular time. But know why populations grow or decrease, that is a more interesting thing. In that sense I would focus on analyzing what causes changes in the processes rather than on the quantifiable. 

It should be a place with access to books and new technologies and where will speak much and listen to the student. I think that there are teachers who often forget to listen to students and I think when you  recognize them as learners they can understand much more.