Laura Fernández: “A story always wins if you put a dinosaur in it”

Laura Fernández (Terrassa, 1981) never thought that typing classes would change her life.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
20 November 2023 Monday 21:28
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Laura Fernández: “A story always wins if you put a dinosaur in it”

Laura Fernández (Terrassa, 1981) never thought that typing classes would change her life. She went up and down with the typewriter and, “even if she had her way,” she didn't care. What that hulk gave her—for her, her best friend—was much more than what she had imagined until that moment: the opportunity to travel far, far away, to unimaginable places that she didn't know could be invented. . That she could invent them. She discovered that its hammering keys offered her an escape that she still resorts to today, almost daily, although now from a much quieter and less heavy computer.

There are many writings that since then the Catalan journalist and writer, who is participating these days in the 42nd festival of fantastic genres in Barcelona, ​​has written and that have made her known throughout the world and in some other galaxy, or so she wants to think. her, since, while she creates, her mind travels much of the time through space. Her latest novel, the multi-award-winning Mrs. Potter is not exactly Santa Claus (Random House), was one of the best-received titles of 2021, and now she comes, ready to repeat the podium, with her new book of stories, Ladies, Gentlemen and Planets (Random House), which has been in development since 2009.

“I started a while ago with the initial story. I knew that I wanted to do something with it but that I didn't feel like spending as much time as in a novel. So I rescued several stories that I have saved,” he explains to La Vanguardia. Two of the stories and the novel with which the volume begins are unpublished. Others have been previously published in magazines and anthologies. “But many were not easily accessible. This is not the United States, where there are many underground magazines and publications in which publishing and having visibility is an option. Here in Spain, on the other hand, you have to lay the bricks yourself from below.”

Since reading The Girl with the Weird Hair, by David Foster Wallace, Fernández understood that “it was possible to write short stories that were worth the same, or sometimes even more, than a novel. Stories that end but that can be part of a larger construction.” And this is what he has done in this new project, in which he has once again used his unmistakable and original language — full of onomatopoeia, parentheses, and exclamations — to continue putting together his own complex world that, although it is not exactly the one we inhabit , it looks quite similar.

Its characters, yes, are part of another universe. Ghost reporters, mutant detectives, galactic farmers, the now regular Sandy McGill in its pages, whom he baptizes as the Grand Dame of absurd crime, or office dinosaurs, because "a work always wins points if a dinosaur appears in it." And writers, many writers, “most of them misunderstood, because it is difficult for people to understand that someone dedicates their time to writing. Not everyone sees it as a real job. I, on the other hand, believe that it is a complex job since a writer is not just one person, but several striving to come to light, generally in the form of fiction.”

Many of its protagonists move through “some of the most absurd corners of the galaxy,” such as Rethrick, the setting for many of the stories in this collection and a recurring place in Fernández's work. “Fiction contains more truth than it seems. These worlds help me explain some things that happen. The thing is that reality, as it is, can be boring. Having a blank sheet of paper to season it, on the other hand, motivates me a lot because anything can happen. I just need a name, an idea, and from there everything happens.”

The writer recognizes that many of her texts are influenced by authors such as Philip K. Dick, Douglas Adams or Kurt Vonnegut, whom she vindicates by wearing a Breakfast of Champions t-shirt during the promotion of the book. “I am always eagerly looking for original ideas for my stories, whether in books, series, movies or even other people's conversations that I then take to my field.”

Fernández also does not forget to mention Stephen King, “a great reference who drove me crazy when I was little because he made everything easier and that always encouraged me to write.” From him he borrows the idea of ​​accompanying the stories with a presentation text “that has the same literary value as the stories themselves,” as well as the phrase “every story has its own secret life.” And that is precisely what the author of Connerland (Random House) wants to do. Discover the ins and outs that lead to turning a narrative into something much bigger: “A parallel universe.”