Writing Our Times

´It is hard for fiction writers to compete with reality´.

So says Jose Ramon Navas, a Canarian writer currently living on Lanzarote. I’m pretty sure any reader would agree him with him, considering the ´real stories´ we have had to try to understand this year, with its global pandemic, dreadful explosions like that in Beirut and governments and royal families around the world seemingly in crisis.

Nevertheless, Ramon, who was speaking to Viva magazine, freely admits to enjoying the creative writing process, even in these difficult times and despite having already completed a baker´s dozen of full length novels and a selection of short stories. That he still finds writing so enjoyable surely justifies what he describes as ´a decision to turn his passion into a profession´.

He knows how much research and creativity it takes to set a reader trembling in terror. Listening to him speak, one has the impression he is certainly prepared to do whatever it takes. He likes to think the fear he does create is not too unpleasant though.

He says it is ´kind of like the level of fear I felt when I first began reading horror stories´.

The fact that we are all currently living in a time in which ´both horrible and incredible things seem to happen every day´ means authors have to try even harder to compete with reality.

´Fiction is my favourite genre. It is the most fulfilling and gives me room to develop my style, which tends to be very visual and emotional, although I’m a big fan of historical novels, too.´

Readers will find an element of all these ingredients in his short stories anthology, La Habitacion Acolchada, which is in fact about the legends and myths of The Canary Islands.

¨Yes´, says the adopted Lanzarotean. ´I take local legends and real life characters and events as a starting point and then use my creativity and imagination to mould them into fictional stories, teasing the emotions of the reader to generate both empathy and fear.´

He is ready and excited to be making the leap now on to the small screen with the first two instalments of his collection.

´I’m cautious to say it loud,´ he smiles, ´but the truth is, I’m really happy. A lot of work has gone into these stories and this a real way of reaching out to a new audience. They may not be yet familiar with my work, or are perhaps not particularly avid readers at all, but through tv they can still experience my way of story-telling.´

The project of placing his work on to the tv screen is on-going and broadening all the time. Arena Estudio first acquired the rights to develop his work in this way, but already two more production companies, one Irish and the other Czech, have also come on board, so the production has taken on a European dimension. A well-known streaming platform will take care of the broadcasting and marketing. Jose is very proud of this infrastructure and says the programmes should hit the screens by the beginning of 2021.

He is plainly delighted by this direction of events.

¨Nevertheless´, he says, ´I don’t put pen to paper with either the big screen or small screen in mind, and I certainly have no intention of taking The Padded Room out of the setting of The Canary Islands.´

There is, though, a clear direction in the development of his writing.

´I touched on the Vampire worlds in my Lanmashtu saga, and now I’m writing a horror novel,´ he told a journalist from the excellent Viva Lanzarote magazine, a free bi-monthly publication that prints most of its articles in both Spanish and English, here on Lanzarote.

¨Horror fiction holds a real fascination for me´, he concluded, ´and I may write about, or base this fiction on, other legends in the future.

Navas currently integrates his writing work with teaching, ´which is also something I really enjoy and gives me a similar satisfaction to my writing.´