Carlos Fuentes said that politics tends to be ideological, religion tends to be dogmatic, but literature is always ambiguous. PW recently talked to the author, who unexpectedly died recently, about his work and his new novel, Vlad (Dalkey Archive Press).
Tell me about Vlad.
It’s a vampire story. Vlad has exhausted the blood supply of Europe and comes to Mexico City. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot. The real, historical Vlad was a political power in the Balkans: a killer, but not a vampire.
Why did you write it?
I loved the old Dracula movies. As a child, I could see a Bela Lugosi movie along with a Boris Karloff movie in the same program. It was a double dosage of monsters. You know, Dracula never changes his clothes. He goes to sleep in his coffin in evening dress, and comes out the next night exactly the same.
Are you familiar with the current crop of vampire literature and films?
Yes. Now vampires are young, teenagers even. I like them older.
Why did you set the book in Mexico City?
There are 10 million people there for Vlad to feast on. And there is a tradition of human sacrifice with the Aztecs. Overall, I know the country better; if I were Argentinian, I would have set it in Argentina.
Are you a disciplined writer? Do you have a routine?
I am a very disciplined writer. I have a German grandmother. Many Spanish-language writers say that they are struck with inspiration. My inspiration comes from work. I start at 7:30 in the morning and go for five hours. Work for me is a pleasure, both solitary and joyful. I don’t suffer. At night, I jot down a few thoughts and the next day I’m surprised by what I produce.
Do you write on a computer?
I write like Cervantes, with pen and paper. When I try other things, it’s a failure.
You’re a huge fan of Cervantes.
He is the modern great writer of the Spanish language. I read Don Quixote again every couple of years. It is the novel of novels, a novel within a novel.
You’ve also written several screenplays and stage plays.
I’ve abandoned that completely. It demands you see things... how to describe a door. You’re a writer or a filmmaker; literature is the antithesis of making films.