Guest Post: How Spanish Culture Influences My Writing by Laura Bailo

First of all, I want to thank Matt Doyle for having me today. I’m going to talk for a bit about how the Spanish culture influences my writing. I’ll try not to ramble, but I can’t promise anything.

I’m Spanish, there’s no denying that. And while I love traveling, visiting new countries and cities and getting in touch with different cultures, at the end of the day the Spanish culture is the one I know best, the one I’ve grown up with. That’s why most of my works are set somewhere in Spain, somewhere I know. Because no matter how much research I do, how many people I talk to, there’s always a part of a culture that needs to be lived for me to fully understand it.

Now, I’m a newbie author, so I don’t have statistics about my works or anything. But that also means I can tell you about them and maybe share a few interesting details about how me being Spanish influenced them.

My first work, a novella called The Sun Still Rises is set in Pamplona, which is the city I’ve lived in all my life. It’s also set during an event unique to the city – the San Fermín festival – so there’s no way I could have told that story setting it somewhere else. Erik, the main character, is from the US and he’s visiting the festival to try and find some ties with his late father, who loved it. His love interest, David, is Spanish and works in the tourism office. So while we accompany them we get to discover the city through Erik’s eyes, with David showing him his favourite things. I love Pamplona, and it shows in this novella. I’ve had a few readers tell me the setting was almost another character, and that made me incredibly happy. But it’s not just the city itself that is present here; Erik and David also make some Spanish food, and Erik needs to adapt to the festival tradition, which includes having to borrow some clothes from David.

My second work is a short story included in the second volume of Into the Mystic. It’s called The Holy Company and it’s set in Galicia. While both the main characters are from the US, the story is very much Spanish. They’re following a pilgrimage route called Saint James’s Way, which is the most important pilgrimage in Spain and one of the oldest in Europe. They also get to try some Spanish food, like the octopus, which is a Galician specialty. And in the end, they run into a local legend. I chose to write this because the myth about the Holy Company has always fascinated me, and I wanted to play with it a bit for a story. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I’ve been told it’s creepy, so I’ll count that as a win. As you can see, this is also a story that wouldn’t work if the setting was changed.

I’m not going to talk about the other work I have contracted because that one is set somewhere nondescript in the US and is very much pure Christmas fluff. This was completely self-indulgent and a great excuse for me to write some fluff, and I hope people like these guys and the night they spend together during a snowstorm.

But I can tell you that I’m working in two more stories set in Spain, one of them with a full Spanish cast. And I’ll keep doing this, because it’s my country, it’s what I know and I love it. And because I think we need more romances set outside the US and the UK. Let me know if you decide to check out any of these stories, and if you do, I really hope you enjoy them!

Laura’s website: The Dancing Words

Laura’s Twitter: @LauraBailo

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