Belinda Alexandra talks 'Golden Earrings'

Feb 9, 2012

Images: 1. Dancers a the Paris Opera 2. the book, 3. Segrada Famiglia Barcelona 4. Flamenco Dancer, 5 Paris Ballet Dancers, 6 Liceu. 7 Branguli, 8-9 The Ramblas in Barcelona, 10: Catalan Woman. 
All of Belinda Alexandra's novels have inspired me - the impeccable historical details, tales of unrequited love, passion, betrayal, powerful women, and a touch of the supernatural. Golden Earrings, Belinda's fifth and most recent novel certainly didn't disappoint. A story that moves between two of my favourite cities - Barcelona in the lead up to the Spanish Civil War, and Paris in the 1970's. The novel is rich in Spanish history and a fascinating insight into the world of Flamenco.  "Soon Flamenco will be as natural to you as walking....or even breathing. You'll see" 

Golden Earrings is the story of two women and the extremes to which they are willing to go for love: the suspicious death of 'La Rusa', the worlds most famous Flamenco dancer, and Paloma, the dancer in the Paris Opera Ballet, and granddaughter of Spanish refugees.  I would like to thank Belinda for taking the time to answer all of my burning questions about the book and the inspiration behind it.

Q: What was the inspiration behind Golden Earrings?
A: The setting of a story is always the first aspect of a novel that I decide upon. Golden Earrings began with a fascination to know more about Spain, in particular, Barcelona. I’ve always been fascinated with Spanish music and dance. In writing Golden Earrings I had the opportunity to explore the origins and development of flamenco and its earthy, dramatic rhythms. For me, Barcelona is the gentle side of Spain, without the bullfighting and machismo. I fell in love with Gaudí’s unique architecture and was beguiled by the way he based his designs on shapes from nature. I could see myself living in the Casa Batlló. But Barcelona has a dark side too. When I was researching my novels Wild Lavender and Tuscan Rose, the Spanish Civil War kept coming up as ‘the last great cause’. The failure of Britain and France and their allies to intervene on the behalf of Spain’s beleaguered democratic government against Franco’s fascist forces was often referred to as one of the causes of the Second World War. It was a war that brought people from all around the world to serve in the Republican army, as soldiers, ambulance drivers and nurses, or to document it. People like Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Martha Gelhorn and Robert Capa.  I wanted to know more – and that’s how I began my research for Golden Earrings!

Q: There is so much wonderful & rich history in all of your books, In particular the Spanish Civil War in Golden Earrings was fascinating and tragic. As a writer how do you begin the research process - where do you start and how long does it take?

A: I always say that each book I write makes me a smarter person: The amount of research I have done for each one is probably equivalent to the amount of reading required for a Bachelor of Arts degree – or more! I have about two years to complete a book from the time I start to the time it goes on sale. At least half of that time is spent in intense research. 

In order to create the time and place for my readers, I have to know the world I’m writing about inside and out. Luckily for me, I love researching my novels! Apart from academic books on the history and politics of the times I listen to the music of the era and watch the films, read novels that were popular in the period I’m writing about and pore over recipe books as well as interior design and fashion magazines. (There is nothing I love more than researching a good frock!). I travel to the country and try to learn as much as I can of the language in order to create my characters’ rhythms of speech; and also in understanding a language I find that I better understand the culture. 
Q: When can we expect the next new and exciting book from Belinda - any hints?
A: I’m very excited about my next book. It’s set in Russia and I’m planning something ‘top secret’ for the moment that I hope will really enthrall my readers!

Q: Where can we learn flamenco in true Spanish gypsy style to find our own dancing 'demon'?
A: According to Australian flamenco artist, Lucy Vernon, there are not many people left who continue to dance and teach in true gypsy style anymore, with the possible exception of some teachers in the South of Spain. There are, of course, many teachers in Australia who teach 'Flamenco Puro' as opposed to the more contemporary or fused styles of Flamenco - but that's a very debatable topic in itself! Lucy suggests that rather than getting caught up in the particular school of flamenco, choose a style of flamenco that suits your personality.The 'demon' comes from within ourselves, after all, so if we dance Flamenco with passion and commitment, we can feel the force of that demon no matter where we might be. 

Anyone interested in finding a flamenco teacher in their area can contact their local Spanish Club or visit which has up-to-date information on all things flamenco.

As a lover of dance I have a new found appreciation for a style of dance I knew little about. Belinda beautifully and passionately describes every detail of the flamenco Duende, the internal force of your spirit combining with the spirit of the dance and the music. My next visit to a much loved Barcelona will be even richer knowing more of its turbulent and tragic past. My visit to the recent Picasso exhibition has also helped! 

I love that in all of Belinda's books there is a character or thread linked back to Australia, and Australian wildlife. A truly inspirational Australian author. Thank you for your stories and for taking the time for this interview. 

Natalie x x 

eat read love... All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger