Robert Wilson - author
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  THE SEVILLE SERIES
Pedal power
The first time I went to Seville I arrived there on a bicycle from London in 1984. I had never been to Spain. I had to teach myself the language as I rode along. I had a great sense of arriving in a country cut off from the rest of Europe. Lunch was suddenly at three in the afternoon and dinner at ten at night. Barmen poured gin into your glass without checking the measures but rather talking over their shoulders to others. There were tapas all day, vital for a famished cyclist. The nights trembled with animation. Everything was unfamiliar but brilliantly exciting. The Spanish were mystified by me: what's with the bike? We have buses, you know.

Holy smoke
Then came Seville. Holy week and the Feria de Abril. I had the full culture shock. Processions of the sacred Virgins on their flower and candle-decked floats followed by trumpeters and nazarenos (those strange-looking Ku Klux Klan look-alikes) in pointy hoods and flowing robes, moved through the crowded, incense-filled streets, day and night. The bars were packed, the restaurants heaving as Seville became a theatre for a week.

Strictly come dancing
Between the two fiestas I took dance lessons to perform the sevillana - the only dance for the Feria. I had invitations to casetas in the tented fair ground where I drank fino sherry and danced with every woman from the age of six to eighty-six. I ate chocolate y churros on the way home at four in the morning. I crashed out and did it all again the following day. I went to a bullfight, my first, an horrendous, bloody affair. The bulls were weak, the picadors brutal, the toreros inept and the suffering appalling. The crowd showed their disgust by hurling cushions into the ring. I finished the week like most Sevillanos, feeble and exhausted after too many late nights with too much fino, but elated, the experience permanently etched on my mind. But I wasn't a writer then.

High life
Ten years later I started going to Seville again. By this time I was on the brink of being published. It all came flooding back but this time I knew immediately that this extraordinary setting of a stunningly beautiful city, full of narrow cobbled streets with its bars and restaurants full of people having a great time had potential. It could fulfil my need to write about one of the fundamental themes of crime fiction: appearance and reality.

Hidden history
In my research I'd come across a quoted passage in 'The Spanish Cockpit' by Franz Borkenau. It was a description of Spain from Galdós's 19thc. Episódios Nacionales: 'wherever thou appearest, thou art recognised from a hundred miles away; one half of thy face in the mood of fiesta, and the other with misery grinning through it...' The difference now was that Seville constantly displayed its fiesta mood, but where was its misery?

Low life
While Seville has this wonderful image of the golden, happy, animated city, it is in reality no different to anywhere else. It has the same inner city problems of drugs and the crime that goes with it, there are racial tensions, there's corruption and people get killed. Not very many, it has to be said, but, contrary to what you might expect, it happens.

Mind map
I had a setting and an idea, but now I needed a hero. While I was looking at a map of the city one day it occurred to me that the old walled centre with its illogical tangle of narrow streets was very much like a human brain. I decided then that I should write a psychological thriller and that the psychology in question would be that of the lead detective.

Four in one
It became apparent that my plans were not going to be realised in a single book and I set myself the challenge of writing four books. Each would have its own stand-alone investigation, but there would be the encompassing theme and the characters and their stories would link from book to book. Some of the questions raised in the first book would not get answered until the last.

Seven year itch
It became a massive undertaking, which took seven years to write and demanded colossal research. First came the judicial system in Spain where, unlike the UK, they have an Instructing Judge. This powerful person runs the police investigation from the start, directing the officers towards a successful conviction. This presented very interesting possibilities for the personal dynamics between the investigating team and the judge. Then came an interview with the real Inspector Jefe del Grupo de Homicidios.

Deeper knowledge
Over these seven years I've researched the Spanish Civil War, the Spanish involvement in WW2, Tangier in the 1940s and the 1960s, modern art, Chilean politics, suicide, Islamic terrorism, the 2004 Madrid Bombings, the Spanish Intelligence agency (CNI), the Russian mafia, corruption within the construction business and in local government, money-laundering and police initiatives against Organized Crime
 
     
 

 

The Blind Man of Seville The Silent and the Damned The Hidden Assassins The Ignorance of Blood