“Writers do not stop being a product of ‘marketing'”




Revenge is a dish best served cold. A phrase and a feeling that serves to summarize very well what the reader will find in ‘Splinters on the skin‘(Suma, 2021), the new novel by César Pérez Gellida (Valladolid, 1974), who is for many the main representative right now of the black genre in Spain. Not in vain, with twelve books since 2013 and after important recognitions behind him, such as the Valencia Negra festival award 2019 for ‘All the best’, is on the lips of many of the lovers of this type of literature. In fact, a name has already been coined to define his style: «genre Gellida».

The Valladolid writer arrives in Toledo this Thursday, at the ‘Mazapanoir’ crime novel festival, which will be present again after the pandemic, which will be used to present at the Castilla-La Mancha Library, at 7:00 p.m., his new novel, ‘Splinters on the skin’. It is an absorbent thriller psychological in which it is confirmed that César Pérez Gellida is the true magician of the deception of our lyrics. In the purest cinematographic style, the author dynamites the reader’s expectations, taking the plot along unexpected paths and sowing it with constant twists and turns. The forced reunion of two childhood friends with more than one outstanding debt is the starting point of this addictive and suffocating novel, which mutates as it progresses.

Behind there is a millimeter-like structure with jumps back in time that relentlessly repositioning the pieces of the present puzzle; depth in the portrait of the (unpredictable) characters; mime in the description of the scenarios (highlighting the way in which the town of Urueña(Valladolid), with its chaotic medieval layout and under an unrepentant rumble, it serves as a geographical counterpoint to the extreme emotions that overwhelm the characters) and a very careful prose (as an example, the anatomical and medical knowledge that the author displays throughout the book) .

I hope he will sell me his novel better than Álvaro, one of its protagonists, who is also a writer and goes so far as to say that “in literature there is nothing that has not been written before.” Do you think so?

I completely agree with Álvaro. That is not an opinion, but a certainty. The human being has eleven types of stories that he is capable of inventing and the rest are variations, changing settings, characters, atmospheres and other details. In any case, this is not the important thing about a literary creation, since the reader’s perception is that each story lives it in a different way.

And with Juan Gómez-Jurado, do you agree when he speaks of you as “the best author of crime novels in Spain”?

It is the same as with what I said before. It is not an opinion, it is a certainty (laughs). I don’t know, but it’s his opinion and I’m not going to deny it. He knows me well, we have a certain relationship and he has read all my work. In any case, I am in a group of crime novel authors trying to lead the genre to grow in this country.

“Something different but recognizable.” This is how you referred to your new novel. Why do you think it is different from your previous stories?

There is no previous reason that I had in mind to make this change, but simply the novel has turned out that way because the ingredients are very different. Normally I am used to handling a much larger cast of characters. In ‘Splinters in the skin’ we have two protagonists who carry 80% of the dramatic load of the story and there is a third character who is also decisive. The settings also change and influence the behavior of the characters. There are only two: Urueña, the small town of Valladolid known for its large number of bookstores, and a boarding school for children. With all these ingredients and the fact that the narrative engine has nothing to do with the criminal investigation, although it is present, but with a clear psychological component and the game between the readers, the characters and the author, it is something radically different. to what I have written so far.

In fact, you yourself have recognized that ‘Splinters in the skin’ was initially designed to be an audiovisual product. When did you realize that this story deserved a novel?

It’s true. I was doing a script treatment for one of the production companies I usually work with, and I don’t remember the specific moment, but I do remember where I made the decision, which was at ‘Zerocafe’, a recurring scenario from my previous stories. In any case, I had already been mumbling the possibility that this would become a novel because the main characters – Álvaro and Mateo – were growing a lot in my head. This does not mean that this plot cannot have a parallel development in the future in the audiovisual world.

Much is already said about the “Gellida genre.” Do you have many followers?

I am very happy that people are talking about me like this. Also, in part, it is my fault because I come from the commercial world and from the beginning I considered that I should have my own brand, since we writers do not stop being a product of marketing and our production is our novels. If these win a space in the memories of the readers and in the shelves of the bookstores with their own brand, it would already be an advantage as a starting point. The «Gellida genre» is characterized by a highly audiovisual narrative, in which I live a scene in my head many times and, when it is clear to me, I transfer it to paper, and with the words I play a bit like with the camera, with different types of approach, shots and other elements that bring me many times closer to the film script than to the structure of a conventional novel.

He talks to me about writers as marketing products and as brands. What is your opinion of the Carmen Mola phenomenon?

I think this is great news. Beyond the importance of the Planeta Prize, which has it, we are talking about Carmen Mola transcending the limits of the publishing industry. That is always positive, that it captures the attention of the media for whatever reason, but in this case I understand it as something legitimate, since there are three scriptwriters who have gotten together and have chosen a pseudonym almost at random, one choice that I know and is very funny, almost right. Afterwards, that it has raised blisters in a broad spectrum of the population, it is harder for me to understand.

His new novel narrates the reunion after many years of two friends dragged down by their past, which is what moves them to act. In fact, the title, ‘Splinters in the skin’ is a metaphor for what one of the two protagonists lived as a child. Do you think, as you have said in an interview, that “there are memories that stick like splinters and sometimes it is not convenient to extract them”?

It depends on the capacity of each one. There are people who are able to better manage these types of emotions and others who are not. In Mateo’s case, he decides to take the path of revenge and devises a plan. The conclusion is that the ways that are chosen to solve a problem are decisive and have their consequences, so it is necessary to evaluate whether or not it is convenient to extract certain types of splinter or when to do it.

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