Javier Márquez Sánchez
We are delighted to welcome novelist Javier Márquez Sánchez to Omnimystery News today.
Javier's first book to be translated into English (from his native Spanish) is Lethal as a Charlie Parker Solo (280 Steps; March 2014 ebook format), a noir crime novel.
We recently had the opportunity to talk to Javier about his work.
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Omnimystery News: When writing a book, how do you decide whether it will be a stand-alone novel or one of a series?
Photo provided courtesy of
Javier Márquez Sánchez
Javier Márquez Sánchez: I have a story. Then come the characters. When the novel is finished, I see if there's need for anything more about these characters, to know them better, to see them in new situations. I never think about a series before I have finished the book.
OMN: Into what fiction category would you place your books?
JMS: I don't like labels, because usually they are not fair. They are too simple. Think about The Metamorphosis by Frank Kafka. Would we say it's science fiction or fantasy? Sure, but just on the surface. In my case, I write hard-boiled, but just on the surface. With my books I want to tell a story, of course, but I want to talk about things I think they are important too, like political corruption or civil rights. The label I choose is just the road for my walking.
OMN: Give us a summary of Lethal as a Charlie Parker Solo in a tweet.
JMS: Eddie Bennett is a detective from Las Vegas, in the fifties, involved in a case that reached from John Wayne and Frank Sinatra to U.S. Army.
OMN: How much of your own personal or professional experience have you included in your books?
JMS: When I write a story there is always something of me in one or several of the characters. In this novel everything happens in the fifties, and somehow the protagonist, Eddie Bennett, is my alter ego. If I could live in that period I would be like him; his looks, his vices, his friends …
OMN: Tell us a little more about your writing process.
JMS: There are compass writers and map writers. The first ones know where they want to go, but when they start their adventure they have no idea where the path will lead them. The second ones have the path well marked before starting to walk, but can afford some changes along the way. I'm that kind of writer, the map ones. Before writing the first line of a new story I need to know what will happen, to have a basic structure and development of the characters. From there, I do like to give the characters freedom, so that they grow and surprise me. But in many cases they change, and then I am forced to find alternative routes on the map. This is the moment when we say that "the characters come to life." It's fascinating when that happens.
OMN: How do you go about researching the plot points of your books?
JMS: I like to research well when I write a book. After all, I am a journalist. I like to dig into the details of the story and the characters. With a historical plot you have to be very careful. Sometimes there are details that seem insignificant, but it makes a difference: the model of a car from 1955, the name of a street or the traffic direction, the style of clothing, the way of speaking and thinking, if a building or an organization did exist or not at that time … We have to check that we are recreating the world in a right way. But this goes for all writing. If I write about China today and do not document well, I can fill my text with terrible mistakes.
OMN: If you could travel anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, to research a setting for a book, where would it be?
JMS: That would be a whole lot of expenses. My next novel is set in many different places: Turkey, Iran, Greece, USA, Germany, France, Ireland, Morocco, Spain … If you ever have the funds, I would be very happy!
OMN: What is the best advice you've received as an author? And what might you tell an aspiring writer?
JMS: I would give the aspiring writer the same advice they gave to me: Just write the story you'd like to read; don't think about the readers, critics or the money. The book will be authentic, and at worst, you'll enjoy it like a child while you write it.
OMN: Complete this sentence for us: "I am a crime novelist and thus I am also …".
JMS: I am also a researcher of the dark side of the human soul.
OMN: What are some of your outside interests? And have any of them made their way into your books?
JMS: I like to play music. I play guitar, harmonica and sing in a country & rock band call The Last Drink. And movies, I love movies, so I watch and read a lot about cinema. Both hobbies are present in my novels: there are always musicians and actors, movies and songs …
OMN: Lethal as a Charlie Parker Solo is an unusual title. How did it come about?
JMS: It comes from a line: "Sometimes life can be as lethal as a Charlie Parker solo", which a barman says to Eddie Bennett in the novel. Eddie's best friends are barmen from Las Vegas, and they are some kind of philosophers.
OMN: What kind of feedback have you received from readers?
JMS: I love it when people say "It was like watching a film while I was reading the book!"
OMN: If your book were to be adapted for television or film, who do you see playing the key roles?
JMS: If I could say any names in the movie history, I would say James Caan and Angie Dickinson. If today's actors, perhaps Liev Schreiber or Jon Hamm playing Eddie Bennett.
OMN: Have any particular authors influenced how and what you write today? What about films?
JMS: I think Ernest Hemingway has been always my main influence. Over the years I discovered Cormac McCarthy, John Cheever, John Fante … I love movies, and it's impossible for me to say which one is my favorite, but some of my favorites are Casablanca, The Quiet Man, Wild Bunch, Bring me the Head of Alfredo García, Who is Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Red River, The Big Sleep, and The Godfather.
OMN: What kinds of books do you read for pleasure?
JMS: All kinds, from horror stories to classic, noir or drama.
OMN: Do you have any favorite literary characters?
JMS: My favourite characters … It's hard to say. Geoffrey Firmin, from Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano, perhaps. Or John Fante's Arturo Bandini. From mystery series, Sherlock Holmes, without a doubt.
OMN: Create a Top 5 list for us on any topic.
JMS: Top 5 authors:
1. Ernest Hemingway;
2. Cormac McCarthy;
3. Jim Thompson;
4. Edward Bunker; and
5. George V. Higgins.
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Javier Márquez Sánchez is Editor in Chief of the Spanish edition of Forbes. He has been Editor in Chief of the Spanish edition of Esquire Magazine and Deputy Director of Cambio16, and has written several novels, short stories collections and non-fiction books on film and music. Sometimes he plays music with his two bands, Rock & Books and The Last Drink.
For more information about the author, please visit his website at JavierMarquezSanchez.com or find him on Facebook.
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Lethal as a Charlie Parker Solo
Javier Márquez Sánchez
A Noir Crime Novel