How Award-Winning Novelist Juan Pablo Villalobos Writes

ProductivityHow Award-Winning Novelist Juan Pablo Villalobos Writes

How Award-Winning Novelist Juan Pablo Villalobos Writes

Acclaimed, award-winning Mexican author and critic, Juan Pablo Villalobos, spoke with me from Barcelona, Spain about making difficult subjects accessible to young adults, the challenge of shifting from fiction to non-fiction, and why finding the right voice and POV is so important to telling your story.

“If you know perfectly where you’re going, the reader will feel the same … he or she will get bored.” – Juan Pablo Villalobos

The tragicomic, avant-garde author (known to his friends as J.P.) has published film and literary criticism, short stories, and award-winning novels now translated into 15 languages.

His novels include Down the Rabbit Hole, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award (2011), as well as I Don’t Expect Anyone to Believe Me, a Herralde Prize (2016) winner soon to be published in English.

New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay has called his writing “Excellent satire … hilarious and smart, [that] takes on class in Mexico … in a really useful way.”

The author’s latest is a departure into Young Adult, narrative non-fiction titled The Other Side: Stories of Central American Teen Refugees Who Dream of Crossing the Border.

In a Kirkus starred review the heavily researched – and very timely book – was called, “A … compilation of stories from unaccompanied Central American teen refugees who make tremendous sacrifices to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Told in short vignettes, the author spoke with me about how he employed the narrative techniques of fiction in order to protect the protagonists’ identities and to address the difficult subject matter gathered in interviews, and inspired by immigrant minors seeking asylum from both violence and poverty.

This is, quite obviously, the last show of the year and thank you for all of your support in 2019.

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In this file Juan Pablo Villalobos and I discussed:

  • The importance of unpredictability, point of view, and surprising yourself as a writer
  • Why writing is (still) rewriting
  • How the author told the stories of asylum seekers in the first person, and the challenging research process behind his latest work
  • The power of literature for sharing difficult subjects with young readers
  • How the author revisited Kurt Vonnegut’s writing only after being compared to him
  • And advice to scribes on why every writer’s process should be unique

Show Notes:

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