Carlos Ruiz Zafón was born in Barcelona in 1964 and began his publishing career by writing novels for young adults. In 1993, he won the Edebé Children's Literature Award for his first book, El príncipe de la niebla. His debut in adult fiction, The Shadow of the Wind, spent more than a year on the Spanish bestseller list, much of the time at No. 1, and has been published in more than 20 countries.
The author currently lives in Los Angeles.
Author biography courtesly of Penguin Group USA.
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Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Zafón:
"In my tender youth I worked as a musician (composer, arranger and keyboard player/synthesizer programmer, record producer, etc.) and I've also labored for seven long years in the advertising jungle as a cynical mercenary, first as a copywriter, then a creative director (whatever that means) and also producing/directing TV commercials and polluting the world with artifacts glorifying Visa, Audi, Sony, Volkswagen, American Express, and many other evil entities. In 1992, when the lease on my soul was about to expire, I quit to become what I always wanted to do, be a full-time writer. Since then, I've published five novels and also have worked occasionally as a screenwriter."
"I am a curious creature and put my finger in as many cakes as I can: history, film, technology, etc. I'm also a freak for urban history, particularly Barcelona, Paris and New York. I know more weird stuff about 19th-century Manhattan than is probably healthy."
There are two things that I cannot live without: music and books. Caffeine isn't dignified enough to qualify."
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In the summer of 2005, Carlos Ruiz Zafón took some time out to answer a few of our questions:
Who are the authors most influenced your life, or your career as a writer?
Charles Dickens and all of the 19th-century giants.
What are some of your favorite films, and what makes them unforgettable to you?
Citizen Kane, Blade Runner and the Godfather trilogy. My work as a screenwriter has influenced my fiction. Writing screenplays forces you to consider many elements regarding story structure and other narrative devices that can be used to enhance the infinitely more complex demands of a novel. I believe the modern novel should try to recapture the great scope and ambition of the 19th century classics, but infusing it with all the narrative tools the 20th century has left us, from the avant-garde to, why not, the syntax of images and sounds of the golden screen.
What types of music do you like? Is there any particular kind you like to listen to when you're writing?
Classical. My own music. I carry around a fully loaded 30-gigabyte iPod with everything from Bach to obscure electronic stuff in it, and I have thousands of CDs at home. Music is my drug of choice.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading?
I'm a voracious reader, and I life to explore all sorts of writing without prejudice and without paying any attention to labels, conventions or silly critical fads. I think I learn a little from everything I read, from genre fiction to the classics. If I had to choose a particular pantheon, though, I'd say the great 19th-century giants have yet to be beat or even remotely approached. Dickens, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Balzac, Hugo, Hardy, Dumas, Flaubert. When in doubt, go to the classics.
Do you have any special writing rituals? For example, what do you have on your desk when you're writing?
I am a night creature, and I write from midnight till dawn, secluded in my office and surrounded by my collection of dragons (I have 400 of them). I only use Macintosh computers, which I name in dynastic order. Right now I'm using MacDragon 5. Only the devil is able to decipher my handwriting.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on a new novel that picks up the mix of genres and techniques of The Shadow of the Wind and tries to take it to the next level. It is the second part of a cycle of four books that I have planned in this "gothic Barcelona quartet" -- a sort of narrative kaleidoscope of Victorian sagas, intrigue, romance, comedy, mystery, and "newly" fashioned old-fashioned good storytelling.
Many writers are hardly "overnight success" stories. How long did it take for you to get where you are today? Any rejection-slip horror stories or inspirational anecdotes?
The Shadow of the Wind is my fifth novel published without "labels" after four successful young adult novels. Since it was first published in 2001, it has become a publishing and cultural phenomenon. After early praise by many critics, it became a cult classic that has been growing over two years by word-of-mouth, by the enthusiastic recommendation of booksellers, reviewers and above all readers who after discovering the novel would buy several copies to give to their loved ones. Interestingly, the novel seems to create an emotional and intellectual attachment with the reader, who, very much like the narrator in the novel, becomes its "protector." It's been ages since the literary market in Spain had seen this kind of intense response to a book (although some of my early young adult novels have elicited a similar response among younger readers), and many in the industry have begun to talk about the "Zafón-mania". Today, in its third year, The Shadow of the Wind still commands the bestseller lists, and shows no signs of slowing down.
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