By Daniel Ford
Author David Trueba’s novel Blitz starts with every Millennial’s nightmare: The main character (the lovably damaged Beto) receives a text message from his girlfriend that was meant for someone else and makes clear she’s about to break up with him.
Trueba, who is also an accomplished screenwriter and director, talked to me recently about his early influences, his writing process, and what inspired Blitz.
Daniel Ford: Did you find writing or did writing find you?
David Trueba: In my case, the writing came to me and found me.
DF: Who were some of your earlier influences?
DT: Scott Fitzgerald, Joyce, and Salinger. And Bohumil Hrabal and Pio Baroja.
DF: How did you get into screenwriting and film directing?
DT: By accident, my literature teacher accepted short films as class material, so I started to write short films to shoot with my friends at school.
DF: Does your writing process change drastically when you’re writing fiction as opposed to scripts?
DT: Completely. The writing in the literary process is the end of the game. In the film process, the writing is just the beginning.
DF: What inspired your recent novel Blitz?
DT: The inspiration was something that happened to me when I was 22. But I didn't understand the meaning of it until 20 years later. That's a very typical process of inspiration.
DF: I love reading fiction from screenwriters because I think they do such a good job of setting up scenes and putting characters into intriguing situations. How did you go about developing your characters and did you have their actions before or after you really knew who these people were?
DT: In a film, the character is the action. In a novel, you have to construct the character from an inner perspective, so you start to understand your character and to complete his personality, and then you design his actions.
DF: Your novel deals with something all of us have been through: A messy breakup. A breakup aided by an errant text no less! But your novel really is about human connections and what happens when they get severed or crossed up unexpectedly. What were some of the other themes you wanted to explore in the novel?
DT: I was attracted to the idea of how accidents, even minor accidents, are decisive in our lives. If you are not open to these accidents, you close your life, your possibilities of happiness and growth. Apart from that, the idea of the novel was the reconciliation with nature, with time, with our humanity. We despise ourselves under the dictatorship of plastic, superficiality, and the advertisement idea of beauty.
DF: In real life, you’re older than your main character. Despite that, how much of yourself and your experiences ended up in Blitz.
DT: A lot. I used to put myself in every character, some of them by similarity and other by projection, but I need to understand them, to accept and even to respect them.
DF: Instead of breaking out the dialogue into a traditional structure, you just weave it into your narrative without punctuation. Was that a conscious choice when you were writing or something that came out of the editing process?
DT: That is something that I did in my prior novel Learning to Lose and worked it great. For me, the idea of not breaking the flow of narration is very important. Literature is observation, and I want my readers to be close to the words, to the emotions.
DF: What’s next for you?
DT: I am writing a new novel now. Something that I started even before Blitz. But Blitz came to me with an incredible force, and I had to stop all my projects to write it.
DF: What’s your advice for aspiring authors and screenwriters?
DT: Be faithful to your instincts as a reader and writer. Don't manipulate yourself for the market, other people’s opinions, or the waves of fashion. It has to always be personal, even if it hurts.
DF: Can you name one random fact about yourself?
DT: I am the youngest of eight children, which helped me to survive as an independent person and allowed me to try to understand others. It was the best gift of my life.
To learn more about David Trueba, visit his official website.