It is said that whoever reads lives a thousand lives before dying. Something similar happens in the case of writers since, in addition to creating a world that resembles reality, these cannot be indifferent to emotions, conflicts and developments through which his characters go.
Pedro Ángel Palou García stands out in the world of contemporary mexican lyrics for his multiple professional lives – clothing salesman, soccer referee, chef, public official, higher education administrator and television host – and for giving voice to the history of Mexico through emblematic (and sometimes misunderstood) figures.
Son of the renowned Pueblan historian Pedro Ángel Palou Pérez, Palou García comments that it was his father’s vision of national history that had a great influence on him and later on his work. The author declares that this is not only part of his narrative inspiration but of his concerns since, for more than 70 years in Mexico There was an official story that narrated a country other than what it really was.
“Both in my works as a novelist and in my works as an essayist I have tried answer the questions that have arisen throughout the story. I do not focus on the nostalgia of the past, but on the pending tasks that it has left us and why the present can be modified. I am a writer who believes that the historical novel speaks of now and not of yesterday”, he adds.
Likewise, Palou García also mentions that Puebla has been one of his influences, since most of his experiences with liberal cosmopolitanism arise in that city. Contrary to popular belief, for him Angelopolis is not a city with a closed mind or one that turns its back on liberality, since all the events that marked the political, social and economic evolution of the countryfrom the Independence, the Reformation, to the Revolution.
“In recent years I have been a little away from the scene and the cultural offer of Puebla,” he confesses, “I worked trying to repatriate musicians, doing literary workshops, working in the plastic arts with Gerardo Ramos Brito. We not only created a symphony, museums, galleries, international festivals, we created a feeling that, despite its proximity to Mexico City, the capital of Puebla could develop independently. And he came to believe it, as he believed it at other times in its history”.
Palou García maintains that the next generations of people from Puebla will be in charge of the cultural evolution of the city, and that they in turn have the responsibility of generating a public that knows how to appreciate the art and demand qualityin which not every guitarist is a musician, and not everyone who writes a line is a writer.
Regarding his novels with historical figures, the author shares his research process, which lasts approximately one or two years. During that time he is given the task of know some chronology of the most important moments of that figure, but he also believes it necessary to read the negative bios (written by their enemies) and then go to those that favor them.
His most recent novel is Mexico and, it was quite a challenge, since it covers a period of 500 years of history in the country’s capital. “I did a lot of research, also family trees, notes for each chapter,” he adds, “but I think literature requires a lot of freedom. So, after that process, I tend to leave my notes and start working freely, although I take some references from the annotations for each chapter”.
“I do not focus on the nostalgia of the past, but on the pending tasks that history has left us and why the present can be modified. I am a writer who believes that the historical novel speaks of now and not of yesterday”.
Faced with the famous literary blockade, the dreaded blank page, the writer compares that sensation with an illness. “I have stopped, my body has ached, I have had to change offices or studios in my home to be able to write; Several times I have had to consult Eric Maysela marvelous specialist in creative psychoanalysis, but also I have invented and created my own routines”, he admits. In his youth he worked at night, but today he works very early, before the sun rises, to finish around 4 or 5 in the afternoon.
Music and gastronomy also play an important role among the passions of the writer, who trained as a restaurant chef. “I am a frustrated musician, but instead I’m a pretty apt cook. When I feel like my creative avenues are about to close, I explore new recipes in the kitchen. That is the way in which I put my creativity at the service of something that is going to have a concrete, fast result, unlike a novel that can take many years for this to happen”.
Finally, when asked for some advice that he could give to those who seek to follow in his professional footsteps, Palou García replies that “it is difficult to advise, especially to someone who wants to have my same literary path. However, I think the best I can tell you is that write but read; reading a lot is essential, whether they are classics or all kinds of genres, but read voraciously. Do not write until you have read a lot, and always do it with the reader in mind. It is a lie that writers write for themselves or for posterity. And on the other hand, buy yourselves time. Literature requires a lot of time and several jobs to live and have the freedom to write. We writers behave like vampires, during the day we carry out jobs close to literature such as journalism, classes or even others that are completely unrelated; I have a friend who is a receptionist at a hotel in Paris but a great Mexican poet.”