Monday, July 24, 2017

Spain, Finally!

Last week, my son took a week's vacation with his grandparents while I went to work in Spain. Spain! I'd never been to Spain before. And since it's the one country in all the world my wife has most wanted to visit, she joined me and took her own week's vacation...while I worked.

Actually, I did find time to see some cool things while I wasn't working, and even when I was working I got to meet incredible people.

The first few days were spent in Madrid. After dropping our bags at the hotel, we rushed to the Prado Museum, which is one of the most acclaimed art museums in the world. I took a lot of pics of my favorite paintings...until I was told no pics were allowed. So while I can't show you the pics I took (even though I may still have them), there were a lot of paintings by Titian, who is one of my favorites. They call him Tiziano in Spain, but it's the same dude.

Then we walked past some beautiful buildings, like the Cybele Palace (home of the City Council), where they proudly declare Refugees Welcome with a large banner.

So many websites and books said a must-see is the setting sun from the Temple of Debod. This was an ancient Egyptian temple, dismantled and sent to Spain as a gift.

And the sunset was everything.

The next day, I met with reporters from seven agencies, one after the other, at the local home of my Spanish publisher. Most reporters spoke a little English, but having an interpreter helped a ton. (The only D I got in high school was during my second year of Spanish.)

That night, I gave a presentation to a full house, with Javier Ruescas interviewing me. Javier is a huge YA author in Spain, and he needs to be translated into English. He's one of my favorite people I've met in my 10-year author journey, so if he gets published in the States, he can tour here and we can hang out more! (But, you know, the most important thing...I more American teens will read his books.)

Almost every reporter asked if there was a difference between American and Spanish readers. I thought a lot about that when I had the chance to met so many teens at my book signing. The stories they shared with me (without aid of a translator) were very similar to those shared with me back home. And the smiles and occasional tears, those were identical.

The next day, I did six more interviews, including two at radio stations. My voice was mostly shot from the previous day, but that wasn't a problem as long as the interpreter could hear me (actually, by then, he could probably answer for me).

The next day, we flew to northern Spain and drove to Aviles, a small and completely charming town that was hosting a massive book festival called Celsius 232.

When I travel to other countries, I love to visit their cathedrals and old churches. In this town, I found a church built just twenty-something years before the Pied Piper (according to legend) rid a town of rats a mere 1,200 miles away in Germany.

In fact, you can read all about that legend this October 31st when a very cool graphic novel comes out!

Each night of the festival, they showed a movie on a humongous inflatable screen in the plaza. That first night, they screened Zootopia.

The next morning, after another handful of interviews, there was just enough time to take a taxi to Playa de Salinas (which sounds way cooler than Salinas Beach).

Back at the festival, Javier interviewed me again, this time with a different interpreter. This guy does the Spanish translating for the Academy Awards, which makes him extremely cool in my book. I mean, he's already cool because he speaks two languages, but that makes him extra extremely cool.

With my wife in the audience, we did something that hasn't been done before. You see, the poem in Thirteen Reasons Why, called "Soul Alone," is actually a song JoanMarie wrote when she was a teenager. After sharing that info with the audience, my wife left her seat and joined us onstage...

...and sang.