"I am the biggest of the dragons."
El País interview with Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Conducted by: Karmentxu Marín on 4/20/2008
Translated from the Spanish by Larry Nolen and Oscar Sanabria
He is 44 years old and to the question of what would he want to have that he doesn’t already have, he answers, "more time." He speaks softly - as a matter of fact, he ironically announces himself with "the mute is now here." - and he says that narrative languages, music, architecture, cinema, comics, and history interest him. He plays the piano, synthesizers, computers, and "all that one can plug in and make noise. They are," he adds, "my favorite toys."
Question: El Juego del Ángel is, again, a book inside of a book?
Answer: No. In The Shadow of the Wind I had that game. This is a game of angels, of shadows, and of mysteries.
Q: You have said that you cure awards with two aspirins. Has Bayer given you an apartment?
A: The awards, no, the too elogistic critics. Two aspirins and a nap. Bayer hasn’t given me an apartment, but now that you mention it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. I am a great consumer of aspirin. You have given me an idea.
Q: Are you a talented person?
A: I don’t know. I intend to be.
Q: Are you above good or evil or is it just my view of it?
A: No, I’m not above or below. I am more or less in the middle, with all the world.
Q: Well, you give the impression of someone who doesn’t really lose any sleep over critics.
A: No, no I don’t. I am not obsessed by a review or what someone says on a blog.
Q: Do you see yourself more as an enfant terrible or more like Daniel the Mischievous?
A: I am a little old to be an enfant terrible. Neither one nor the other. There are those who see me as being very mischievous in many things. But I intend to appear to be a little saint.
Q: Did you send a ham to Joschka Fischer for the free publicity that he gave for The Shadow of the Wind?
A: No, no I didn’t send him a ham. If I had to send him a ham for every book that he praises...Although he has the gentility to send me one of his books each time he publishes one.
Q: How many aspirin did it take to digest the 10 million books in 30 languages and 50 countries?
A: None. It’d have been many if the book hadn’t interested anyone. The aspirin aren’t for the successes, but instead for the elogistic critics or the high-sounding commentaries.
Q: Are Aznar’s Letters to a Spanish Youth or The Memoirs of César Antonio Molina in your Cemetery of Forgotten Books?
A: It would be best to deny them entry. Both of them.
Q: "The kiss one cannot nor ought to explain a priori." Do you kiss suddenly?
A: No. I give advice.
Q: And the Spanish woman when she kisses?
A: Kisses in truth? Depends upon the Spanish woman and the frivolity, which has different grades to it.
Q: Are you in favor of impossible loves?
A: Not especially. Normally, impossible loves are not loves. There is a technical word, I don’t know if it’s infatuation, which sounds very pedantic.
Q: You, for infatuation, don’t need two aspirins. You don’t suffer from it.
A: No. I have suffered in my boyish years, like all the world.
Q: When The New York Times compared you to a cocktail between Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges, and Umberto Eco, did you roll your eyes at that?
A: One of the few advantages that writers have is that they don’t have to opine on the opinions of those that are poured over them.
Q: Do you lack passion?
A: No. I have the same passions, the same phobias, and the same manias as any other person.
Q: And what about the temptations?
A: I believe that I have them well hidden.
Q: In what area do they move?
A: I wouldn’t know to say to you. When there they are, normally I succumb to them, and they stop being temptations.
Q: "Writers are not so famous as the football players, the politicians, or serial killers." Do you yearn for some of those?
A: No (laughs). I am very content to be what I am, and to be much less famous. For the football players I don’t have the conditioning or age. And for the politicians, age, maybe so; but the will, no.
Q: And the serial killer, nothing to add...
A: Nope. At the moment I don’t have the sense of being tempted to kill anyone. But if I feel it, you’ll be the first to know.
Q: Did you settle in Los Angeles in hopes of getting a part in Hollywood?
A: Well, no. It was because I felt like it. And I never intended to be an actor.
Q: Do you have a soul?
A: I don’t know. I have a conscience.
Q: You with the dragons, Vargas Llosa with the hippopotamus...other perversions?
A: It is very innocent. The collection of dragons, poor little ones, they do nothing, and I less. If I have a love it is music. It is my main drug.
Q: Are you the biggest of your monsters?
A: I am the biggest of the dragons, perhaps. That’s why I collect the others.
Q: What St. George has the capacity of killing you?
A: Interesting question. I am sure that I don’t lack St. Georges who would want to make me disappear off of the map. Doing it is an entirely different matter.
Q: You assure that you almost never say what you think. How many lies have you told me?
A: All that I was able to tell. It is my obligation, in an interview like this one.