Alicia Vallina. Interview with the author of Hija del mar

Alicia Vallina | Photography: Facebook profile

Alice Valline he knew what he was writing about when in April 2021 he published his first novel entitled daughter of the sea. And it is that she was technical director of the Naval Museum of San Fernando-Cádiz and she has also written many articles in national and international magazines on Museums, Spanish History, Naval History, Contemporary Art and Cultural Heritage. Thank you very much for your attention and time. dedicated to this interviewthe last of the year, where he tells us about this novel and many other topics.

Alicia Vallina — Interview

  • LITERATURE CURRENT: Your novel, daughter of the sea, tells us the story of Ana María de Soto. Who was hers and how did you find her to write about her?

ALICIA VALLINA: Daughter from sea is the story of a real womana woman of flesh and blood born in a small town in the interior of Andalusia, Aguilar de la Frontera (Córdoba) who, in 1793nothing more and nothing less, decides to break with everything and impersonate a man to enlist in the Spanish Navy. Of course it was a unique woman in her time that he had to assert himself in a world of men, in which any false step could cost him his life. A woman of enormous courage and a high degree of unconsciousness, who I think deserves to be remembered. But let’s not forget that it is a novel and that there are parts that are not real, or, at least, that we have been able to verify.

On the other hand, I always believe that it is the great stories that end up finding us. They are presented to us by chance, although we must always keep our eyes wide open and enough curiosity to make them our own. And that’s how it happened with daughter of the sea. I had been appointed as technical director of the San Fernando Naval Museum, in Cádiz. Before it was located in the Escuela de Suboficiales (next to the Pantheon of Illustrious Marines, which was also mentioned in the novel).

Women in the Navy

I was especially surprised that in all the discourse of the museum there was no no mention or reference to women whatone way or another, would have contributed to forging Spanish naval history, or more specifically that of the maritime department of Cádiz, a point of reference for the museum that he was going to direct. That is why I proposed, at first, and solely from the point of view of research (since I had never written a novel and I have written many essays on museology and cultural and military heritage), to make known the story of a woman who had had a relevant role in this regard.

that was howconsulting documentation of the time and speaking with expert sailors, I found a character like Ana María de Soto y Alhamawhich allowed me to create an exciting story based on the data I was able to obtain about his life.

  • AL: Can you go back to that first book you read? And the first story you wrote?

ALICIA VALLINA: I don’t remember exactly, but it was possibly an adventure book. I remember with special fondness my childhood readings of the steamboat collection and the adventures of The five. Or the books in which you yourself were the protagonist of your adventure and had to make risky decisions by turning to one page or another of the book depending on the choices you made.

I have always loved stories, especially those of Oscar Wilde like their celebrities The Happy Prince, The Nightingale and the Rose or the giant selfish. Lace first stories i wrote they were precisely that, moralizing tales in which the human soul was shown in exceptional situations. I have always been interested in human beings, their passions, feelings, how he faces his being in the world and how he owns his fears and his freedom.

  • AL: A head writer? You can choose more than one and from all periods.

ALICIA VALLINA: Ana Maria Matute It is one of my literary passions since my youth. A woman with tremendous creativity, emotional, possessing beautiful and unique history. Also the great Oscar Wilde, a genius imprisoned by his time and the lack of understanding with which society annihilates the different. And, of course, the great Russian literati like gogol, pushkin, tolstoy either Dostoevsky. I am passionate about moralizing literature, of social denunciation, satirical and always timeless, full of spirituality and fruit of the innate characteristics of human beings as such.

  • AL: What character in a book would you have liked to meet and create?

ALICIA VALLINA: Many, thousands, I would not have enough lives or time, nor enough imagination or capacity to create the great characters of universal literature as they are for me. Alonso Quijano, Count dracula, Sherlock Holmes, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Alicia in Wonderland, the little Prince, Frankenstein or of course, the magnificent William of Baskerville… The latter fascinates me, I would have loved to become his student, an Adso de Melk, naive and eager for knowledge, obviously forbidden for an ordinary woman in the fourteenth century.

  • AL: Any special hobby or habit when writing or reading?

ALICIA VALLINA: The truth is that I need a total silence for both activities. I like to be concentrated and calm, focused only on the task at hand.

  • AL: And your favorite place and time to do it?

ALICIA VALLINA: The quietest moment is always the evening, but unfortunately the one I also enjoy the least, because when I arrive I am always more tired from daily work. My place to write is usually my officeAlthough I normally take notes and jot down ideas anywhere and at any time of the day, in a notebook that always accompanies me or on my own mobile, if necessary.

  • AL: Are there other genres you like?

ALICIA VALLINA: I really like the Science fiction and the novel of adventure. Also the big ones classics of universal literature that I never abandon and that from time to time I always return to.

  • AL: What are you reading now? And writing?

ALICIA VALLINA: I’m reading my good friend’s novel Mario Villen titled Ilium, a great epic novel that adapts Homer’s Iliad to current times, with a tremendously brilliant narration. and I’m already finishing writing my next novelalso edited by Plaza & Janés.

I have just arrived from Ecuador to finish the part of the documentation related to the country that was still pending. And this summer I have also spent two weeks in France, on the Loire, to visit the places frequented by the protagonists of this new story. Real characters and very unknown to the general public, but with amazing storiesin this case set in the 18th centuryand more specifically in colonial Spain.

  • AL: How do you think the publishing scene is?

ALICIA VALLINA: It’s a panorama very diverse and complex. In the case of the historical novel Thousands of titles are published each year and the genre, fortunately, is in very good health. People are interested in knowing the past to face the present with some knowledge and face the future with useful tools.

But it is true that it is difficult to make your way in a field as competitive as literature. Little by little we are achieving it, thanks to the media, social networks and people dedicated to making our work known. I greatly appreciate that, since it is essential and it is a tremendously necessary task.

  • AL: Is the moment of crisis that we are experiencing being difficult for you or will you be able to keep something positive in both the cultural and social spheres?

ALICIA VALLINA: The moments of crisis always, from my point of view, have to be used as ccatalysts to drive positive changes and improvements. Crises, if we face them with intelligence, a critical sense and humility, can favor our personal development, create links and cooperation networks and promote learning activities. That is what they have brought to me, but always from work, the will to continue making an effort in good spirits and with a spirit of improvement and cooperation.

Alicia Vallina. Interview with the author of Hija del mar