Today author Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban is here to talk about how a picture really does paint a thousand words, especially for writers. Carmen hails from Spain with a Ph.D. in Biology. She worked as a researcher both in Madrid and at the University of Davis in California, before moving to Pennsylvania in the 1990s where she began a writing career.
Immortal Love: A Romantic Poet in Bucks County
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And they may be right. Pictures from the cover of Times or National Geographic do tell a story that goes directly to our hearts, skipping language and brain translation of same.
Yet, great writers, I contend, paint pictures with their words that are a thousand times more powerful than the corresponding photographs would be.
And among these great writers, Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, the protagonist of my paranormal romance Immortal Love, occupies a place of honor.
Becquer, a painter himself, used adjectives like colors to dress ordinary words in elaborate costumes, creating indelible images in the reader’s mind, both by their meaning and their sound.
Becquer was a Spanish poet, and his work loses much of its musicality on translation. Yet even in English Madrid comes to life in the following description written in a moment when, without money or support from family, Becquer has just arrived in the Spanish capital looking for fortune.
“Madrid wrapped in a light mist, through whose broken shreds chimneys, attics, bell towers and the naked branches of the trees raise their dark crests. Madrid dirty, black, ugly like a gaunt skeleton shivering under an immense shroud of snow.” G.A. Bécquer. Review of the La Soledad by Augusto Ferrán, El Contemporáneo, Madrid January 20, 1861.
This description, in my opinion, conveys, apart from a vivid picture, a feeling of profound despair as well. A despair that is in the author’s mind and that a photograph would have failed to deliver.
Although humbled before him, I have tried to bring to life in my novel Immortal Love, the beauty of the Bucks County, Pennsylvania landmarks where my story takes place.
From the Cafe in State and Main (which remains unnamed in my novel by editorial orders) to the shores of Lake Galena where a pivotal scene takes place, I have described the settings from memory, painting them not as they were but as Carla, my protagonist, would see them, distorted through the lens of her experiences.
Here they are, in images and words, the streets and the lake, and the imagined portrait of the man who would be Becquer. My respectful homage to my favorite poet and to the beauty of my adopted Pennsylvania county.
From Immortal Love. Chapter Eleven
“A heron, white and slender, walked the shore hunting for food. The heron that had made it into the narrative of the manuscript Bécquer had agreed to represent.
“But for the heron, the place was deserted. The boats and canoes that dot the lake in summer time, were now grounded ashore in the crescent shaped inlet to my left. And the owners of the cars sitting by mine were nowhere in sight.
“Turning my back to the lake, I walked to the bench Bécquer and I had shared the previous night, and sat down.
“The weather had been unusually mild this past October and the trees had just reached their full autumn colors, but the stunning beauty of my surroundings I had profusely photographed over the previous weeks, failed to impress me.
“Maybe it was because the effect of Bécquer’s blood had worn off during the night, and, after perceiving the world through immortal senses, it seemed dull now that I was seeing it with my human eyes. Maybe it was, plain and simply, because Bécquer was not with me and I wished he were.”
From Immortal Love. Chapter One
“Outside the window, coming down Main, a blue BMW convertible waited at the light. As I watched, the roof rolled back and the sun poured inside the car, on the black hair and pale skin of the man who claimed to be Becquer. I held my breath, afraid that he would burst into flames.
“Across the distance, Becquer smiled and, in my head, I heard his laughter, a clear sound of childish joy. Before I could react, the light turned green and, with a slight movement of his hand, he shifted gears, and, disappeared in a blur of blue.”
Carmen in her own words:
I was born in Galicia (Northern Spain) and went to college in Madrid, where I finished my Ph.D. in Biology. For the next ten years, I worked as a researcher both in Madrid and at the University of Davis in California.
My Young Adult novel Two Moon Princess, (the story of a discontented medieval princess, eager to live life on her own terms, who lands in modern day California) was published in 2007 by Tanglewood Press. It was recognized with the bronze award by the ForeWord Magazine in the Juvenile fiction category.
Ginger Knowlton from Curtis Brown Ltd represents my YA novels The King in the Stone and the Revenge of the Wolf King.
Bécquer Eternal is my first adult novel.
You can visit me at my blog: Dare to Read