All This I Will Give to You (Amazon Crossing, Sept.), Spanish novelist Dolores Redondo’s fol-low-up to her bestselling Baztán trilogy, is a standalone mystery set in northern Spain chronicling a writer’s quest to understand the reasons behind his husband’s death. PW caught up with Redondo and Michael Meigs, who translated the novel to English, to ask a few questions about the release, which may be Redondo’s most accomplished work to date.
Dolores, your Baztán trilogy was powered in large part by a female protagonist, hom-icide inspector Amaia Salazar. Your newest novel features a gay man as its main character. In what way, if any, did this alter the way in which you approached writing the story?
DR: It didn’t alter anything for me. A writer knows how to put herself in someone else’s shoes. In my other novels, there were many complex, very well-drawn and thought-through male characters, so it wasn’t a novelty for me to have a male as a main character. The crea-tive process is exactly the same. The thing here is that Manuel is a writer, and I am a writer, so I am deeply connected to this character and the distance between us is much shorter than with many of my other characters. We’re linked through our creative minds, through our jobs, through who we are as we both identify ourselves as writers. In the novel, the fact that Manuel is gay is secondary really: he’s defined for the loss of his husband, he has to face this loss, and the loss of the world he felt safe, the world he lived in and thought as true.
Although All This I Will Give to You is almost 700 pages long, it reads like a much shorter novel. Did you get any pushback from publishers about the shelf-bending size?
DR: Never. Nothing really changed from the version I delivered to the publishers to the one you read. It’s funny, because readers tell me “you spent two years writing this novel, yet I read it in less than a week.” And they say: “the next one has to be longer.” The thing is each novel is the length the story needs to be, I cannot really decide beforehand.
Michael, what was the biggest challenge for you when it came to making this bestsel-ling Spanish mystery accessible to English readers?
MM: All This I Will Give to You is a meticulously plotted mystery that develops in an unfa-miliar setting rich in landscape and tradition. It’s beautifully linear and at the same time breathtakingly deep. Dolores’s characters are striking and complete; in these pages, several of them undertake journeys of discovery similar to Manuel’s. The challenge was to express these discoveries and transformations in an English as rich, subtle, and contemporary as Dolores’s Spanish prose. Picking up the text again several months after working with the publisher’s talented support staff, I’m enormously pleased with the result.
Dolores, all of your novels are so richly described. How important is setting in your stories? And what initially inspired you to write a novel set largely in one of Spain’s most exotic—and mysterious—areas, Galicia?
DR: Landscape and setting are crucial for me. I treat it like another character in the novels, and an important one. It is not important that I chose Galicia, or Baztán; it’s the North, that’s important. I grew up in this place in the North, within a very matriarchal family with important men around, in a culture of hard work, and hard physical work. With my admira-tion for Mario Puzo, I dreamt of living in the U.S., in big cities, and writing about that kind of life. When I grew up and matured, I realized I couldn’t disregard the place I had grown up in, but had to embrace it, as that place was powerful. My universe is the North, and that’s the setting I always chose for my novels. It doesn’t have to be the Spanish North, it can be any North. The essence of the North is part of me.