A journey through time at the end of the 18th century and a love story based on a legend between a Kaskaskia Indian and a Creole woman have served Luz Gabás to weave a filigree of characters and real events in what she considers her best novel to date. . For now, Away from Louisiana has tried to embrace the Planeta Prize.
Away from Louisiana it is a historical novel, but it has love, a lot of love, and different kinds of love.
That’s how it is. To continue with the river of Suzette’s life, there is her brotherly relationship with her sister Margaux. For me, she represents reason, enlightenment, the concept of duty, of what has to be done, while Suzette is the close romanticism, the longing for freedom, revealing what she can within the times she has to live. It is a very beautiful relationship. There is the love for the land represented by the figure of Ishcate de Kaskaskia, the Indian who has grown up between two worlds and who sees how the second is taking over the first, which saddens him. There is another type of love, which is work, the sense of responsibility of the rulers who are going to serve their country… And, finally, there is romantic love, the desire, passion and attraction of a man and a woman of two different worlds that see how the context in which they live burdens them with obstacles.
With this universal feeling can you explain major underlying issues such as in this case the social conflict, the crossroads of cultures, life across, for example, the Mississippi River at the end of the 18th century…?
Is there a novel in which there is no talk of love? What is in the novels are great characters (or not) who are related and inevitably the desire to share arises, to walk through life with someone. It is the concept that sharing your life with another person makes you better and even completes you.
This book has been a great challenge.
When he was awarded this prize, he commented that it almost cost him his health because of the arduous task of documentation that he has carried out for almost three years. Is there so much historical novel now that sometimes anything goes?
It’s more a matter of finding the balance. The historical novel implies a commitment to history, that the facts you tell are contrasted and true, and that the fictional part is plausible. Veracity and likelihood are two different concepts, but they complement each other. You cannot take over one part of the other. I think that the novels that have reached the public are those in which the information has been well dissolved to create the scenarios, but not to give a history lesson. This is easy to say, but difficult to achieve.
Is there more passion or more reason in this novel?
I believe that the tension between passion and reason is carried by all of us in life. How many times the heart tells you one thing and the head another! In my case, I have always really liked the romantic movement of the 19th century and that is why it already appears in the novel. Love, death, spirituality, duty, obligation, what I want to do and what I really do… that’s life.
And in your life?
I am from the stress. In my balance there is apparently more reason, but inside there is a boiling volcano, that’s why I’m a writer.
It is not a well-known fact that Spain occupied up to a third of North America. In this case we are talking about Louisiana, a territory that she received from England after winning the war against France. Was it a legacy poisoned by the complexity of governing this area?
Yes, France got rid of an immense territory that caused it a lot of expenses and gave Spain some land whose limits were not even very clear. It was necessary to start to populate it, with all that it cost, to pay the settlers’ trip… And there was no gold there, there were furs… It was a very complicated moment and it only lasted four decades, so it has not been very collected in history.
Is there a novel that doesn’t talk about love?
And how did you get there?
I knew some headlines on the subject, but not too much, until Zenda asked me for a story about the role of Spain in the independence of the US and there I began to refresh ideas and, suddenly, I saw it. I saw the context, the site, the Spaniards in meetings with the natives, a young Creole… I came across a legend of a Kaskaskia native Indian who fell in love with the daughter of a French merchant, they ran away, they were caught… I was very clear that there was a novel there.
Is this type of literature a way to instruct without boring?
Always. This is my way of being. I have been a teacher for many years and it seems that there always has to be some use. I like that the novels I read entertain me, because I want to escape a little from my real life and that they teach me. I’m not just talking about history lessons. For example, the novel by Cristina Campos prompts reflection and that for me is also learning. The truth is that it is strange that I do not like a novel because I always find something.
Do you think this is your best novel?
I’m about to say yes. Because of the literary challenge in terms of voices, scenes… It has been a great challenge.
How do you imagine it if someone decides to take it to the movies?
It would be a movie with an expense in production that sailor fabric. It must be very expensive!
If it is taken to the cinema it will be a great movie”
You are from one town, Monzón, and you live in another, Benasque, where you were mayor for four years. Elections are coming soon in which people will begin to hear about the empty Spain. What arouses you?
I can answer you more from life experience than from politics, because I have never considered myself a politician. The administration moves too slowly, it is. I try to focus on the positive… It is true that now there are more places where the fiber reaches; Well, come on, maybe two more families stay…
The problem is that decisions are made in offices far from the daily life of people who live in rural areas and, therefore, do not meet the real needs of those who live there. I think they would have to explore the territory more and meet with the neighbors not only when there are elections. In order for people to stay in the rural world, conditions must be met that many times, in truth, put those of us who live there to the test.
Do you already have a story in your head for when you return to your Pyrenees after the planetary madness?
Ideas yes, but now I feel that I am beginning to wean this novel and I have to accompany it on this journey until it gets going. At the moment there is nothing concrete.
She is the first author to win the million euros alone. What are you going to spend it on?
The first half is for the Treasury. The other will help me to have time and calm to be able to write the next one. It certainly gives me peace of mind.