Maya is a writer of poems and creative nonfiction.
Your book has a very sensual title, Bombón. Palabras de Chocolate, can we assume that chocolate plays an important part in the stories?
Actually, this book, these texts, were born from an experiment I was doing while writing. It was the result of an attempt to write freely without any restrictions or borders, to write very intimate things straight from the heart and also from sweetness, “dulzura”.
A couple of years ago, I used to sell carrot cakes together with poems in Granada, and I think that somehow was a prequel to this book in a sense that maybe I had in mind, unconsciously, to write something sweet and to paint with words. I wanted to see how far I could get writing from that emotion.
I love making pastries and every story in this book is somehow related to sweetness, texture, and different flavors. Each story is like a different kind of bonbon with a different flavor. It was my dream to have it published the way it is now – as a box of chocolates with each story being dedicated to a different type of chocolate, or “dulce”. I am very proud of the way it turned out in the end, because it is exactly the way I wanted it to be, the way I had envisioned it. It took me a while, a couple of years, to translate the stories. I’ve worked on the translations together with Patricia Rodriguez, who is a writer herself. Translating the stories was a very long process because I am very picky about words, about the feelings they should provoke and the sort of taste they should leave. After I’d found a publisher it also took us a long time to research if it would be possible to publish the book this way, in a box, and if we would be able to do it for a reasonable price and quality. I am very thankful to Editorial Nazarí. It was my dream to publish the book with a local publishing house here in Granada, because it is very much related to this city.
Actually, the way I found Editorial Nazarí is also a very funny story. I went to a Feria del Libro (book fair) a few years ago to get to know publishing houses. All of the sudden, I heard the Song Wild is the Wind by Nina Simone, which is also featured in the book. It is not a very famous song, only Nina Simone fans would have heard this version. When I heard this song in front of the Editorial Nazarí stand I knew I had to submit my stories to that publishing house. I sent them my script one year later, it was the only publishing house I sent it to. They loved it right away. I somehow forgot to include my contact details in my cover letter, maybe because it was very hot the day I sent it, but they found me through Facebook and they absolutely wanted to publish it.
It took us about a year to put everything together, as we wanted to be very precise with every detail. They totally understood and loved the concept, I am very grateful for all of this. These are stories I wrote mostly in my bedroom, late at night, that’s what the title midnight cravings also refers to. It is just great to see them come alive and people reading them.
I really love that the stories are printed on loose sheets of paper that are arranged in a box. What made you chose this unusual format?
It’s all related to the idea of setting yourself free, to set these pages free. As I literally say in one of the stories, in Granaína I think, “on a spring morning like this, I’ll walk along the river Genil to Puente Verde. And there on the bridge, I’ll set these pages free.”
So, it’s all related to the idea of writing without fear, loving without fear, setting feelings free, giving words–pages–away to someone we like. Also in the sense that the stories are like bonbons, chocolate pralines, that you can just pick and read or give to someone else. That was all part of the whole concept.
As the subtitle already indicates, the book is bilingual. Does switching languages make the stories more authentic from your perspective?
It is on purpose that it is published in two languages. The stories are all nonfiction, prose that was born out of experimental writing. They are intimate, at times erotic; nudes painted with words so to speak. They show a very personal side of who I am. When you live in Spain, it is somehow inevitable that you think in Spanish. You use the language every day and it becomes part of the way you express yourself.
There were many words in Spanish I did not want to translate, especially when describing experiences made in the world of Flamenco and things like that. I just think it is more authentic like this. I’m not pretending it could be something everyone would be able to understand without having lived here. It is very much about southern Spain and it is very hard to write about this world without Spanish. I was very precise about the translation to Spanish. I was determined for it to reflect the right emotion, to provoke the right flavor. I needed it to have my tone, my voice. Patricia Rodriguez and I went through it together. Some parts I translated and she revised it. Other parts she translated and I revised it. Most parts we worked on together. We took our time, just like baking pastries. I am grateful for her patience. Some of it was maybe already written in Spanish in my head, or it made more sense in Spanish. I think it is also important, if possible, to read both the English and the Spanish version. It is absolutely complementary. There are certain parts I like more in Spanish and others I prefer in English.
Bombón is set in Andalucía, mostly in Seville and Granada, do these places hold a special place in your heart?
Yes, they definitely hold very special places in my heart, Granada especially. It is my home and I think the story Granaína talks about this and explains what I found in Granada. I think this story is kind of an introduction for other stories I intend to write about this city in the future. I think Granada will have its own book. This city is very special to me and I still live here. I also went to Seville for a year and a half and it was there that I started writing Perfumed Paper, the first story, which is about spring in Seville.
You describe the book as “a fine selection of chocolate flavored words,” are there more cravings you would like to explore? Will there maybe be a sequel?
I honestly don’t think there will be a sequel. I think every project will be very different. Like I said, this collection of stories was born out of an experiment like a dedication to love, “un canto al amor”, to love and spring. I think Bombón was born this way and my next project might be something very different.
Curious about the book? Get your box of Bombón/ Midnight Cravings
* The name June is a pseudonym Maya uses, which is also the name of her event agency in Granada. It was taken from June Miller, the adventurous wife of Henry Miller. Miller’s Bohemian lifestyle and way of celebrating life also inspired the stories in Bombón, which started as intimate cravings and little by little came together to become a book.