Interview with the American novelist Eléna martina

juin 22nd, 2012

By Rachid Filali

-The novel ” CLINGING TO DECEIT another version of the eternal love stories, love that disintegrated traditions and social norms, just like the timeless story of Romeo and Juliet, and my question here is: What is new in this novel, written in graceful and beautiful? Is it true that love stories are the easiest topics in the field of writing, as some believe?

_ The book is the story of two families arranging the marriage of their respective children, something that happens today in several countries, not only in the Arab world.
-Another question puzzling, why chose  Eléna Martina writing a love story an Arab, and it is the Arab societies are the only ones that suffer from the influence of tradition to the point of restricting personal freedoms? Or is the love stories of Arab that is special, remember the atmosphere of stories of “Thousand and One Nights” charming ..

- I am a writer and I write fiction. The story was a challenge to me since I never visited Africa, Asia, or the Middle East. But you do not have to live there to figure some things out. I have African, Asian, Arab friends here in the USA. So I am not totally isolated from their views or customs.
-You always write about happiness in life, but why we find the novel “CLINGING TO DECEIT ” is full of incidents of murder, betrayal and evil?
- My story, like I said earlier, it is not about romance, it is about the struggle of young people who find themselves forced to obey their parents wishes of an arranged marriage based solely on tradition not love. Romeo and Juliet was a love story gone wrong. In my book, Hassan thinks that he loves Seline (the girl he is infatuated with since he saw her in a cafe), but since he is to be married to Aqqela, he plays them both. Hardly a love story. He is struggling with making a decision on his own. He desperately wants to, but customs stopped him several times. He is unhappy, so he deceives many.
The violence, and murder is committed by his family. They have their own problems that somehow evolve during the arrangement. As you know, every family in the world has problems. It is not only an Arab thing…
I write about happiness every day and other tasks have nothing to do with my book. I have learned to be permanently content and happy and I display my thoughts in other venues. My writing is not always dark, it is just a facet of a writer. In about 3 years time, I could possibly write about different things, I presume.
Oh and by the way, I was born in Peru, South America and lived in the USA since I was 18. I have a different background growing up. The story of the arranged marriage is close to me only because it almost happened to me… It was different then, we had a voice, so nothing ever happened. It was all just a concoction of my parents and godparents to have their children date when they grew up. Similar arrangements, that of having us meet for the purpose of liking each other, marry, etc.
-Do you know  Eléna Martina Arab world enough to write about a novel read by Westerners, especially since the West is still considered a distorted image of Arabs and Islam .. and can easily find out through the cinema, for example ..

- My novel is doing very well not only in the Western world but overseas. I have received great comments from readers from other countries and I know that the Arab world is curiously looking into my book.
-Ms.  Eléna Martina you know a good American culture, and Latin, why not write a novel for example, reflect the conflict between whites and Hispanics?

At one point, you’re asking me to stick to stereotypes. You are asking ME to write about Whites and Hispanics? Why should I stick to that…. You are being simple minded. I have found no “struggle” with Whites in this country. I have been treated like one of them. It has helped that I am not the norm when it comes to looking Hispanic, but I don’t side with stereotypical views of the Whites either. I am perfectly happy here and consider myself American like any other who is from here. I did in the past helped the Hispanic community a lot. As a columnist, I wrote columns in English and Spanish just for them. Then I created a Spanish language newspaper for them. That was long ago. Today, I am an author who writes novels.
-What do you think of contemporary Arabic literature? And is there an Arab writer you prefer to read his books?

I have read the writings of several Arab writers. The latest two that I remember is “Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, he is a facebook friend of mine, and “The Muslim Next Door and that Veil Thing” by Sumbul Ali-Karamali (I actually met her in San Jose California), and three other books that I cannot remember now, but I will look in my personal library.
-Do you expect the success of the novel, and what are your projects for the future?

- Every writer expects their book to be successful. I can only hope it gets read in the Arab world as much as the Western world. With your help, it just might be!
 For the future. I am working on Clinging To Deceit II, it will not be a sequel of number 1, but rather a series of books with the same title, where deceit is the main theme.
 Number 2 book premise is about a young man who commits the same crime that his father had committed in years past. It is the story of how the family affect children’s behavior when they are deceived. ~ And I don’t need to be the daughter of a criminal to write about crime either. I have enough background in the civil/criminal courts to use for my book and intend to.


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