October 1, 2020

Elena Merino: “Fantasizing about the dark side of life has something therapeutic” – La Provincia


September is approaching and, with it, a new edition of the conference literature police and mystery in Murcia. It will be the sixth, and will once again feature some of the main authors of the current ‘noir’ panorama, in addition to some expert raised in the journalistic field. Specifically, the appointment will be from September 10 to 12 with El Batel as the main headquarters and, to open your mouth, The Opinion of Murcia interview its protagonists.

When one thinks of noir, one imagines Humphrey Bogart in “The Malts Falcon” (1941) or Hercule Poirot interrogating half a dozen suspects at the mercy of Agatha Christie’s pen. But since then, many things have changed in terms of entertainment culture; and not only in the background or in the plot, but in the forms and means. And in Cartagena Negra, the days of crime and mystery literature of the port city know it. Therefore, in its next edition there will be site also for ‘podcasting’ – you know, what conventional radio is to the Internet – and, more specifically, for Elena in the Land of Horrors, a program directed and presented by the journalist of events Elena Merino (Alicante, 1973). It will be on September 11 and, accompanied by the television stations Manuel Marlasca, Alfonso Egea and Beatriz Osa, the opening of the project’s tenth season will be performed live from El Batel. With them she will talk about crimes, the profession and, of course, literature (her three guests have made their first steps in the publishing world), but today it is she who has to answer the questions of this newspaper.

– The crime novel is in fashion. What do you think about noir that makes readers so hooked?
– I think fantasizing about the dark side of life has something therapeutic. In general, we are good people and that forces us to stick to it, to stay within limits, to progress only along the correctly marked path. The noir genre, whether in the cinema or in literature, gives us the possibility of living the forbidden virtually, which is more than satisfactory for the rebel that we all have inside and shelters us from dangers. Also, well-understood noir has a lot of glamor.

– And you, how did you come to this genre? Because I understand that she is an amateur …
– Mine will be the story of many others from my generation: when I was little and there were only two television channels, a lot of black film was shown, and my parents did not consider it dangerous for us to see it. Me I played with my brother and at school to be detectives (already swordsmen, but that’s another issue …), and I think that was my first vocation: to be a detective, one of those in raincoats and pets, a la Philip Marlowe. The saxophone chords and the narrator’s voice of the protagonist of the stories continue to resonate in my memory …

– An author or book that has marked you?
– That question is the easiest of all. Without a doubt, Arturo Pérez-Reverte.

How does the taste for this genre influence a journalist specialized in crimes and gruesome stories? What came first, the noir or the events?
– The whiting that bites its tail! As i told you, My first vocation was that of a detective, but I also really liked writing. I added the two and I was a journalist. The reason for having specialized in black chronicles has been a frequent question in interviews and, also, puzzling for a while. It is not easy to know why you like what you like. In the end, I decided – I don’t know if by ruling out other options – that it was precisely due to the influence of those movies that I watched, without any other option, as a child. In any case, in crime novels, as in events, we are always faced with a hidden enigma among the lowest passions of the human being, which seems to me a fascinating and mysterious place where to carry out investigations to try to solve it.

– Beyond your professional career, you have also made your first steps in literature with ‘En la piel del asesino’ (2015). Hasn’t the quarantine tempted you to get into some similar project, to write again?
I live wanting to write again, but my circumstances do not make it easy for me. I run a podcast, which is such a new medium in our country that it still has a rather blurred professional profile. Trying to turn it into a compelling product so that you get paid for it requires very absorbing dedication. Neither does the publishing scene invite too much the extra effort that a new literary project requires … That said, and even if it is contradicting myself, I can announce that, probably in a few months, I will present a second book.

Speaking of confinement and, by extension, of covid-19 (this year’s great villain), does this 2020 give for a crime novel or would it rather inspire a horror book?
– Only the pandemic It has already given for a few literary and cinematographic productions. It seems that nothing spurs creativity as much as misfortune. At the moment, it is giving for intrigue and terror, a lot of conspiracy and a lot of ‘Z’ [en alusión a la ficción protagonizada por zombis]. A crime novel may need more time to cook. We’ll see what it takes.

– By the way, among the writers of the genre there are subtle and visceral. Which ones do you prefer?
– Well, I’ll fall into the topic: less is more.

– Finally: Do you recommend to our readers a novel with which to fall in love with the genre?
– I quote the cartagenero again Pérez- Reverte and any of his novels, within the genre or expanding to the thriller. Another novel that I found passionate and that I highly recommend is ‘The Alienist’ (1994), by ‘Caleb Carr’.

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