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A Letter of Introduction from Federico Axat

Dec 06, 2016 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

Kill The Next One by Federico AxatI am writing these lines a long time after the last page of Kill the Next One. The book is no longer the same, and I am no longer the same. The life of a book in the outside world commences with the word “fin,” and a number of things have happened since then: translations, events, and many readers have had the opportunity to read it. I have had the great joy of exchanging views with readers, and it has been revealing; Kill The Next One is a labyrinth whose passages have not yet been fully explored, I fear, not even for me.

I knew the book would start with a strong event, that it would lead to a maze of repetitive cycles and some lineaments, rather than saying too much.

One afternoon at the beginning of the writing journey, I went to visit my mother, who has always been interested in the course of my literary career. I do not have the habit of talking too much about works in progress; however, this time I forgot that rule and talked about the idea I had in mind. It would draw on possible plots, hypothetical characters, and situations that support what I want to tell. She made me a coffee with sugar and sat at the table willing to talk with me as we had done so many times before. I stood next to an antique piece of furniture that had belonged to my grandmother. This cabinet is covered at the top by a plate of marble, and it has wooden ornaments in the corners. The marble slab became the main timeline, and the ornaments were the cycles. I slid my finger forward and backward along the edge of the marble, explaining the operation of the novel, where the surprises were, how the cycles worked…just as a professor explains a complex theory to the discomfiture of his students. Permit me to use this analogy not because I think I have the lucidity of a professor, but because my mother, who is a highly intelligent and lucid woman, did not understand a word of that first sketch of Kill The Next One. And that was logical! For there was nothing to understand.

Still.

This strong start was the key to shaping the plot itself. I remembered a story I had begun writing a long time ago in which a man was about to take his life in his home office. His doorbell rang, and the man had the choice to answer or not. When he finally decided to open the door, he met a mysterious man who made him a proposition that was difficult to refuse. The story wasn’t there. I had not even figured out what was so compelling about the proposal. I returned to the story, reread it—there were only about three or four pages—and I knew that was the opening I was looking for, that the elements I needed to develop the plot had been drawn in the marble furniture inherited from my grandmother Anita.

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