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Inma Chacón and her sister’s request before dying: “I knew that literature was going to save me”

His voice and his huge unexpected smile exude joy, passion for what he does and enthusiasm for what is to come. Inma Chacon She was born in Zafra (Badajoz) 68 years ago, the same day as her twin sister, the writer Dulce Chacón, who died in 2003. After many years dedicated to her initial vocation, teaching, she began her literary career in 2005 by publishing the novel The Indian princess (Alfaguara, 2005).

It was the beginning of a fertile journey which has given rise to novels like The Filipinianas (Alfaguara, 2007), Sand Time (Planet, 2011) or Hugo’s silences (Contraluz Editorial, 2021), a slow-cooked book that is currently going from strength to strength and is a bestseller and critical success.

The emotion contained in writing drives her to write poetry to open space and time to her frailties, giving birth to collections of poems such as At, Warps, Anthology of the wound and Arcana, which will soon be reissued. But there is a predilection that Chacón embraces as much or more than the previous ones: dramaturgy. In autumn it premieres in Asturias The memory of flowers and shortly after his version of Welcome comedy in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Since birth The Indian princess, your first novel, until today, you have not stopped writing. How do you feel the journey has been?

Very fruitful! If you had told me that she would have 18 years ahead of her to write seven novels, six plays, six collections of poems four of them published a book of stories and another that is in the chapel, plus all the proclamations, reviews, prologues… I would tell them: that is impossible, it cannot be done.

But that’s how it has been, thanks to your absolute dedication to writing?

Writing has helped me survive or rather, to live. Surviving is easy, it is letting life pass over you, but living is loving life, surrendering to it and knowing that it is always worth living, no matter what happens; Literature has served me precisely for that.

I was happy in my academic world, it was what I had always dreamed of, I was dean at the Faculty of Communication… but, suddenly, my twin sister died of an almost sudden death From the time he was diagnosed with terminal cancer until his death, only 27 days passed and I could barely notice anything, it was a shock tremendous, because we were practicing twins, we loved being that.

What did your sister’s death mean?

In addition to the immense pain, I was extremely disconcerted, that was not what we had planned, we planned to grow old together. Her death was also mine, I felt that I had also died and I had to be reborn, to remake myself in another way.

Dulce gives him a gift, a request before dying….

Yes, she had read the first 50 pages of Hugo’s silences, the novel that I had started at that time. She knew that I wrote and she trusted me, although my vocation was teaching, while Dulce’s was always to be a writer. She had the idea of ​​writing a novel about an Aztec princess, based on Isabel de Montezuma, and when she knew that she was going to die she asked me to write it. I told her that her princess would live, I promised her.

Inma Chacón with her book ‘The Silences of Hugo’

Sadeq Mousavi

It’s sad and very beautiful at the same time. He begins with a brief idea, a firm promise and in homage to his sister…

That’s right, I wrote the novel very quickly, thinking that I was also going to die because it was the logical thing to do. We were born together, we had to die together, but when I saw that I didn’t die, and also with a very young daughter, when we finished The Indian princess I asked myself: and now, what do I do?

I continued writing, I recovered Hugo’s silences. I realized that my sister had asked me to write because she knew that literature was going to be a lifeline for me, she knew that writing is captivating and that that would also happen to me, that it would help me put my life back together. Writing is a healing exercise, that is what literature has meant for me.

Do the stories that run through your novels always have something to do with close experiences or fragments of your own history?

They are all based or inspired by real events that involve me and then I fictionalize, and they are tributes to the people who carried out those events.

The Filipinianas It is a tribute to my mother, because her grandmother was born in the Philippines, to Spanish parents; My great-great-grandfather was the organist of the Manila Cathedral, where he moved from Alexandria with his five daughters. The five of them fell in love on the ship, one of them, my great-grandmother, got married in Manila and my grandmother was born there.

Hugo’s silences It’s a story I lived. It is my most personal novel, it starts from a sad event, but it is a song to life, it took me so long to publish it because I had to distance myself a lot to be able to write it. It is a tribute to a friend.

With his fourth novel, sand time, based on a family story, turns out to be a finalist for the Planeta Prize in 2011. What does this recognition mean? Do they stop relating her to her sister Dulce de ella?

I have never been worried about being related to my sister, I am the one who always talks about her. For me it is an immense pride, I have never had the need to be considered anything else, neither now nor when she was alive. We twins do not have that problem, the problem is with the others because they do not see two people, but rather a single person repeated, we know that there are two of us.

When Dulce died there were people who told me: ‘Now it has to be you.’ Yes, I have always been me! Others have had the problem, not me, especially when I land in the world of literature. Dulce and I knew what being twins meant and we loved it, it was a lot of fun.

Something that has been fun my whole life cannot become, when she is not there, something negative. People try to establish competition between us, absurd, I have always admired everything Dulce did just as she always admired everything I did.

Inma Chacon

Joseba Osés

(Image provided)

Once, José Saramago told me a very nice thing: ‘Before you were one in two and now you are two in one.’ That made me reconcile with the people who didn’t know what to do when they saw me, causing me immense pain. I understood her confusion, the same as mine, at not having my sister by my side. Fortunately, literature caught me, like a balm. Every time I write, I am happy.

Let’s talk about poetry. It grows from your hand…

My father was a poet. Before going to sleep, instead of stories he read us his poems. Of the nine brothers that we are, we all have within us the sound of poetry, which for me is like classical music. I have written poetry since I was little, but everything I wrote I threw away.

Following Dulce’s death, I began to write poems on the computer: poems of bewilderment in the face of death, in the face of loneliness, which was a feeling I had never had before. This is how it was born At, without knowing that he was writing a book of poetry. With Warp Yes, I was aware that it was a book and so was the rest.

There is another passion that he develops, for my taste closely related to poetry: dramaturgy. Lately, have you fallen in love with it even more than other literary genres?

Yes, now it’s what I like to write the most. Precisely, at the end of the collection of poems Warps I knew that, in reality, I wanted it to be a dialogue between life and death between the two Greek myths: Ariadne and Arachne. That’s why I decided to exchange their voices in my first play, The labyrinth and the warpwritten expressly for the actresses Sole and Gracia Olayo, twin sisters, who later suggested that I write The Cervantasa text co-written with my admired José Ramón Fernández.

How does your embodied word live on stage when the reader appears transformed into a spectator?

I love the theater! Poetry is an intimate act, narrative is a solitary act, they require meditation, concentration, solitude and time, but theater is an exercise in which verbality is present. And the beautiful thing is that it is a shared passion, it is collective and I am passionate about that. I am very gregarious, I come from a large family and it shows.

Do you write with discipline or disorder? What space do you give to each genre? Does poetry have its own unique time?

When I’m in front of the computer I’m happy, the hours go by without me realizing it. I am disciplined, with narrative and theater I consider what I want to write every day and I don’t stop until I finish it, seven or eight hours in a row, and I work every day.

Poetry has another drive, it can be born from a fortuitous moment, I catch inspiration at any moment and then I work hard on the poem. I also like the meeting and subsequent dealings with readers because they build a parallel world to your text, they enhance it, they are really the ones who put the end to each book.

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