Victor del Arbol interview

Victor del Arbol interview by Jordi Pujolá, Spanish writer in Iceland, with the support of Icelandic Mountain Guides 15 % discount using promo code ESCRITOR2018

The writer who was a police and writes black novels

This project tries to put Icelandic and Spanish cultures in contact

Read the full article in Spanish

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Víctor del Árbol is a Spanish Catalan writer who collects a lot information before starting one of his terrific black novels. He studied History and likes living a broad for a while to know people, traditions and landscape, then he uses the scene for a new book. His style matches very well with Nordic novels (check One Million drops, now in English) and he would like to write a novel in Reykjavik

«we writers live in the edge»

During the interview, Víctor del Árbol constantly shifted from Catalan to Spanish with naturalness (In Catalonia we are bilinguals as Icelanders are with English). He also speaks French and it´s a best seller in France

Victor was appointed Knight of Arts and Letters and the French consider him a French author

Víctor Árbol segunda novela
Víctor Árbol La tristeza del samurái

I just want to write, read and travel

I met him in a conference of writers in Gijón hosted by AEN Union. He gave the impression he is a good author and a great person as well

«My dream was become a writer because I wanted to spend my time writing, reading and traveling. I wanted to be free

Now I wake up every day happy, even though we writers live in the edge, you never know what´s going to happen tomorrow

I used to work as a police man. When you work for the government, you wake up, go for work and come back home with the conviction everything will be the same the next day . On the other hand, when you are a writer, you don´t know what is going to happen tomorrow; but that uncertainty gives you the freedom»

The 2 important things of happiness is how it creates and it destroys

«André Gide, a writer I really like, said he was only interested only in 2 things regarding happiness: how you make it and how you destroy it because when you live it you don´t need to explain anything

What we need to explain to ourselves is why we create our own infernos having all we need to be happy»

An optimistic person who writes black novels

You define yourself as an optimistic person. Why do you write so dark and hard novels?

«First of all, I think we have to work on the balance of our happiness. I always look for the positive things. However, I´m not stupid an I know how the world works

Second, on the other hand, I am very critical with myself, the environment and human condition. When I see the human being like a mass, I have the idea that nothing can be done for us, but if I focus on the individuals, I feel there is still hope

So my novels are hard because of that. We need someone to tell that dark part of ourselves because it´s real. Nevertheless, it doesn´t mean we have to give up or suffer the pain, hate or betray we have inside»

Entrevista Victor del Arbol Premio Nadal
Entrevista Victor del Arbol Un millón de gotas

«It´s not the same to be a writer or a published writer

¿Who came first, the writer or the police man?

«I write since I was a child. I always wanted to be a published writer because to be a writer or a published writer is not the same »

The most appealing of writing for me is to live as a writer 

«The police was a happy anecdote, a life school. I was 23 years old when I entered and had a lot to learn

As a writer, to see the behaviour of people so close is a privilege

However, when my second novel was published, I decided to quit and devote myself to write and make true my dream

Besides that, my personal contradictions at the police grew up and I was not able to hold them with the point of irony you need to do some jobs

People have a date of expiration in their passions; when the desire is gone, when you don´t want to learn anymore, we have to change, risk and to do another thing»

The comfort area

«The same works for an author, if you write a book every year repeating the same idea with the different words, you become a bourgeois on the negative meaning

In my opinion, the most interesting thing of being a writer is to live as a writer. The book always reflects the way you understand life. If I am able to make people read my books, then means I deserve living as a writer»

My goal is durability

What is your target as a writer?

«To be the best writer I am able to be, because I know (in a selfish way) it will bring some other rewards. The recognition is a thing you should not follow, it has to come. I would like to transcend, to be read after dying»

How can someone achieve that durability?

«As I told you: renewing yourself, writing different things…»

Entrevista Victor del Arbol y Jordi Pujolá escritores Barcelona
Interview Victor del Arbol en el Sandor de Barcelona

Ideas are like butterflies

Where do you find inspiration?

«Look, the ideas are like butterflies. When you see them, you don´t run and smash them between your palms. First, I observe and study them, then I approach slowly, no hurries, and eventually I enclosed her delicately with my hands , you get it»

Project France and Spain

Víctor del Árbol (Barcelona 1968) has been a bridge between Spanish and French cultures for a long time

«We are natural neighbours, but we always have lived back to back: The Pyrenees are physical and cultural barrier

People know the most famous French authors as Fred Vargas, Pierre Lemaitre, Patrick Modiano, Emmanuel Carrere… However, there are much more and I try to show their talent to Spaniards and vice versa

To help some French authors (Pascal Dessaint, Magat Ledan, Marcus Malte…) to be translated in Spanish or introducing new concepts as the black ecological novel is an honor for me

My goal is breaking cliches using the literature»

¿What are those cliches?

«The cliches about the French: they are chauvinists, arrogant… they have a very introspective literature…

The cliches about the Spaniards: It´s a not trustworthy country, too violent literature, civil war cliches, the romanticism of building a too much idyllic Spain, Africa begins in the Pyrenees…

And the biggest cliche: Spain is a conservative country»

According to Víctor del Árbol, Spain is a country more modern and progressive than France. For instance, It was the first country allowing to marry homosexuals

«Definitely Spain is not a country for only beach, sun and holidays. I want the French to understand our diverse culture and the complexity of our society»

The culture and Europe

Why do you do this job? you don´t earn anything from that

«I do it because I am a humanist and for selfishness as well. What actually I am interested in is the interchange of cultures, that is what is going to save Europe

I believe in an unbreakable Europe. The more will know each other, the easier will be the project successes

I want French people caring about what happens in Spain and vice versa»

The prestigious Nadal prize was only a step accomplished, my project is much longer

What did you feel when you got the Nadal Prize in 2016?

«It was a catharsis, you go from the anonymity to the sky. It has also some drawbacks, however, I just look into the positive side

The Nadal prize is the dream all the writer in Spain wants to win and when you get it, you enjoy it fully. Nevertheless, I didn´t live it as a climax, for me it was just a step more, my project as a writer is longer

The Nadal Prize give you the quality of writer in front of others, but not in front of you. There are many writers who deserve it and never will get it, they are not worse writers for that reason»

Read the report of the Book Fair in Mexico

Curiosity for Iceland

What do you know of Iceland?

«First, I feel a huge curiosity for so a little nation with so many readers and writers of black novels in a place where crime rate is so low»

10 features of Icelanders

«I met Lilja Sigurðardóttir in Pau (France). She speaks a really decent Spanish, and told me the Icelanders spend a lot of time indoors because the bad weather

Second, Iceland is very remote and exotic for me. Here in Spain we only know Guðjonssen. And I didn´t know Iceland had a Literature Nobel Prize!»

I recommend Icelanders read his book A million drops (translated in English) for his connection to nature

 Victor del Árbol Novels (Wikipedia)

  • El peso de los muertos, Editorial Castalia, 2006, (English)
  • El abismo de los sueños, 2008, inédita
  • La tristeza del samurái, Alrevés Editorial, 2011 (English)
  • Respirar por la herida, Alrevés Editorial, 2013
  • Un millón de gotas, Destino, 2014 (English)
  • La víspera de casi todo, Destino, 2016
  • Por encima de la lluvia, Destino, 2017


  • Premio Tiflos, 2006
  • Finalista del Premio Fernando Lara, 2008
  • Prix du Polar Européen Le Point, 2012
  • Premio Quercy Noir, 2013
  • Premio Tormo Negro de novela policiaca, 2013.
  • Prix du Litterature policier etrangère en Francia, 2015.
  • Premio Nadal, 2016.
  • Caballero de la Orden de las Artes y las Letras, 2017
  • Premio Mejor Novela Valencia Negra, 2018.

Lee otras entrevistas del Proyecto La Contra Islandia