Olga Núñez Miret: “Angelic Business” still has me thinking about good & evil
Welcome back for a third week of author interviews. They are so much fun for me, and from the feedback I get form both authors and readers alike, they seem very popular. Today, I’m joined by a friend of mine who’s recently published a trilogy, Angelic Business, about a teenage girl who is involuntarily tasked with settling the battle between good and evil once and for all. Not a small order mind you… I’ve written several posts and reviews on the trilogy as it became available. Feel free to read them here, here, here and here.
Today, I have the joy to introduce you to the talented young lady behind Angelic Business, the incredibly talented and multifaceted Olga Núñez Miret:
Who is Olga Núñez Miret in her own words?
Thanks so much, Hans, for interviewing me. As you well know, we’re forever writing different versions of our biographies, as writers. Somebody recently told me that I give too much detail in my bio. So I tried a short one… My name is Olga Núñez Miret and I’m a writer. I also do translations of other author’s work. What else? I was born in Barcelona, Spain, but have lived in the UK for a long time. Over the years I’ve done many things and had other lives but however far I wander I keep coming back to books and stories, my two earliest loves. When reading was no longer enough, I started writing. My first book was published in 2012 and my publications span different genres, from literary fiction to romance, Young Adult and psychological thrillers. I plan on writing more novels in the same genres and if my imagination so dictates, I will explore others.
What is one thing you would like the world to remember you for?
I don’t expect to be remembered for anything by the world at large. If any friends can remember having an interesting conversation with me that made them smile, that would be good.
What got you into writing?
I’ve loved books for as long as I remember. I’m an only child and I spent a fair amount of time reading and playing alone and making up stories. And then I started writing them when I was still quite young. I also loved ‘Little Women’ and particular Jo’s character and wanted to write like her someday.
You’re not only an accomplished author with a huge online following, you’re also a translator and a psychiatrist. How many hours a day do work, and what drives you?
I left psychiatry about a year and a half ago to pursue other interests. Unfortunately my family circumstances got complicated (my father became very unwell and died this January) and some of the plans were put on hold. Still, it’s true that any amount of work will expand to take up all the time available. Between the blogs, translations, reading and reviewing, my own writing, sharing other people’s content and promoting my own everywhere I spend more time “working” than when I was officially working. And if I start doing something I’ll keep going, so sometimes I’ll go to bed in the early hours and I’m an early riser! (I am so sorry to hear that, and you have my deepest and most sincere sympathies. I’ve lost my mother less than two years ago and know how hard it is to lose a parent.)
There is so much I want to ask you about your book series Angelic Business. First of all, did you plan the entire series ahead in terms of the story or was there a particular reason for splitting it into three books?
I wrote the first book in the series before I published any of my other books (4 or 5 years ago, although I had written many books that had never been published, and I suspect quite a few never will) with the idea of creating a series. I thought about a story for young adults that would develop, not over a very long period of time (it’s not even a whole year) but that would see the characters’ circumstances change over the books. In a way each book is dedicated to a different incarnation of the celestial beings (or of G[regorious] to be more precise).
In my own writing, I often suffer badly when a character has to go. I’d rather not give away the plot of your story, but how does it make you feel when you have to “do away” with a character?
In my writing, it depends on the type of book. I’ve published a thriller (three stories under the title ‘Escaping Psychiatry’) and the circumstances of the characters make the emotions quite different. I don’t tend to write horribly bad characters (they might be somewhat horrible but they are still human and interesting) so even when those go I see them go with sadness. Sometimes it’s the only option. In Angelic Business… The circumstances are pretty special. I found the overall experience of writing the series quite uplifting (at a time when things weren’t going too well).
Pink and her friends are unusually well educated. The teens I know barely watch the weather, and they have no idea about news or cultural events. Where did you find the role models for your characters?
I guess I’m weird and so were my friends when I was a child. I’ve always been a reader and had readers as friends. We would exchange books (not only children’s books but standard novels) and be very opinionated. We knew everything… (No, Olga, you’re not weird, but maybe not as “common” as others. I am/was the same way…)
You have a very special author voice, and you write in two different languages. Can you tell us about your writing process? What comes first, Spanish? English? You’re Catalonian, ever fancy writing Catalan?
It very much depends on the story and what I’m thinking on. As I spend most of my time in the UK I tend to write stories in English as that will be where the inspiration would come from. Then I translate them to Spanish. The process of the translation is quite useful to catch continuity errors, name changes, etc, as I spend a fair amount of time reading the original, in far more detail that when I’m just editing or proofreading. My book ‘The Man Who Never Was’ started as a novella I wrote when I was 17 or 18, than I rediscovered many years later and thought it deserved to be developed, I translated it to English and rewrote it, and then I translated it back to Spanish…
Although I studied Catalan at school, due to my age that was a bit late in my schooling (at least officially, as during the Franco era Catalan could not be used officially or taught in schools, although things went on underhand), and feel less confident than in Spanish (although I don’t discount it. The market is smaller too).
The one thing that has stuck with me even all these months after reading your books are the two angelic characters, the demon and the angel, and how beautifully torn they are, between good and evil. I really fell for Gregorious in the first book, and found Azrael very snobbish. In book two I was left confused about Greg and in the end I like both of them very much. Can you share how these characters came to you? Were they planned or did they “grow” and “evolve” as you wrote?
Thanks, Hans. I’m also very fond of them. As I have hinted at earlier in the interview, I had a more or less clear idea of the transformations Gregorious would suffer throughout the three books, although I wasn’t sure of the ending at that point. Azrael grew on me. In the same way I don’t like bad characters that are just bad (although I’ve sometimes used them); I don’t like good characters that are just good without question or struggle. I think I was also somewhat puzzled as to what exactly would happen after book 2. And then it came to me that all the main characters should confront each other in the same terms and be able to share similar experiences. And Azrael learned a thing or two…
I am a total fan of the covers. I’m still not sure which of the three I like best. Who does your art work and what was the reasoning behind it?
My friend Lourdes Vidal. We met at primary school (I think she transferred to my school when we were 9) and we’ve always been in touch. She studied design and we got talking. When I was looking for a cover for a novella I published a while back ‘Family, Lust and Cameras’ I told her I didn’t know what I wanted to do and then I took an interesting picture of a building in Barcelona (that installation is called ‘the wall of eyes’). I asked readers of my blog for ideas and Lourdes made some suggestions. She enjoyed designing the cover and did the one for ‘I Love Your Cupcakes’ (and later reworked ‘The Man Who Never Was’ too). With the trilogy we met and discussed ideas and she sent me a few suggestions, including the final cover. The others were good but more usual. It had to be this one. The second one also was produced very quickly. The third one was a bit more of a struggle. The angel in the cover is a picture I took of a sculpture near Barcelona Cathedral (not la Sagrada Familia, but the gothic cathedral) and we decided on the colour. She was touched by the angel. She also does interior design. Here is her website: www.lourdesvidaldisseny.jimdo.com
I’m happy to act as intermediary if anybody wants to contact her (she’s working on a few ideas and might launch a page for the covers business in the near future). She suggested it! (I have worked with a couple of other very talented cover designers too, but being able to chat about covers and life with the designer I think greatly enhances the process).
To write the quintessential story about good and evil, with both God and Satan making appearances in your book, were you not afraid to take the risk? Given how easily offended some religious groups are these days? Some of the interpretations you make of biblical events are most intriguing, but I doubt they follow doctrine…
I didn’t give it much thought at the time. I’ve thought about it since. It is not a religious book and I don’t necessarily ascribe to the opinions expressed by my characters, who are characters…I think writing about something that can’t possibly offend anybody would be both very difficult and terribly dull.
Which of the characters in the story did you struggle with the most, and why?
I think Pink was both the easiest and the most difficult to write. The easiest because she reminded me of me at her age, but trying to make sure that her behaviour is consistent considering the things that happen in the story was a challenge, and of course, we all remember how our behaviour wasn’t always logical at that age (or ever!). But I enjoyed the fact that she does not allow something like fate defeat her, and she gives as good as she gets. Making sure that the balance didn’t tip over too much towards either Gregorious or Azrael was quite interesting too.
Angelic Business is a story aimed at young adults. Is that an age group you like to write for? Do you also write for other groups?
I have published a novella called ‘Twin Evils?’ also for the YA market and I wrote a long time ago. I do write for other groups too. I’ve written (and plan to write more) thrillers and a couple of romances (one a bit special, with three endings to choose from, Click Me Happy!), although many of my stories seem to start, or have parts of them take place when the characters are quite young and I find it an interesting time in life. So many new experiences and emotions to cope with…
Finally, what can we expect and look forward from you in the future? Plug away…
At the moment I’m revising the audio versions (both in English and Spanish) for my culinary/baking romance ‘I Love Your Cupcakes’ that should be available soon. I hope to have a paper version of ‘Angelic Business’ ready in a few months (hopefully before Christmas). I’ve decided to publish the whole collection in a single volume to save readers the posting and packaging.
I’m working on a prequel to ‘Escaping Psychiatry’ that should be a novella that I’m planning on using to promote the novel, and I also have a couple of other stories planned with Mary, the writer/psychiatrist as main protagonist.
I have ideas for a second part of ‘I Love Your Cupcakes’ but haven’t decided if and when it will be written. I have some very initial ideas for another possible YA series and I’m also revising some of my unfinished or drafted books, before deciding if they’ll make a public appearance.
Thank you so much for joining me today Olga. I’ve learned some interesting morsels about you and your creative process that undoubtedly many of your readers and fans will enjoy as well! 🙂 Happy writing!
Thanks so much, Hans and thanks to your readers for their kindness.
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Have a good hump day.
PS: Don’t forget that you can pre-order my new novel Spanish Bay with a nice 50¢ discount, from my website only. Release date: 10/10. Only three more sleeps before the book is release and the discount ends!