Readalong 5

Today’s section is absolutely my favourite bit! The whole story pivots at this point. When I was planning, this was one of the first scenes that came together fully, so everything grew around it. We are starting to find out more about the song, ‘Nostalgia’ and why it means so much to Javi (even though he likes to pretend it doesn’t). Cara is also opening up, not only to him, but to the song, the season and her own nostalgia.

This section is also where I got into unfamiliar geographical territory…

It’s obviously much easier to write about places you’ve actually been, but it was clear to me that the story needed to go to Barranquilla. I toyed with the idea of changing Javi’s nationality, but the story I wanted to tell with him was quite particular and so I just did the most in-depth research I could do, asked people and, when I was done, found a beta reader who had been to the area (and who even told me she recognised the snack stall I describe in a later section!)

The song below is the soundtrack to their arrival in Barranquilla in the cramped cab. It’s called, ‘When I arrive home,’ and it’s by Colombian pop musician Fonseca.

Cuando llego a casa by Fonseca

‘I’m sorry for my father.’
‘So am I, but you don’t need to apologise.’

  • Weirdly one of the lines that sticks in my memory is when Gordon has to kiss Mamita on the cheeks.
  • We are starting to see Javi more clearly! Did you all realise already what instrument he learned first?
  • The first line of dialogue from Jorge means, ‘Is she yours?’ I possibly should have worked in a translation, but at the time I decided to leave it for the reader to either guess, or to just not understand, like Cara. And of course any Spanish speakers to get a little nugget.
  • Hmmm, I used to write really long chapters! I’ve shortened them a lot in the intervening years.
  • Ha, I made Cara dribble in her sleep. I’m mean like that sometimes.

It was its own kind of nostalgia, to remember that half-Christmas in August… Now she understood the line of the song about lighting candles and dancing on the patio.

The song I pictured at the start of the jam session on the noche de las velitas. It’s not a Christmas song, but a very popular old pop song.

‘Just feel the beat. It’s hard when you think too much – like life.’

Las cuatros fiestas is a song connected with Barranquilla in particular (about the different festivals in the year, including carnival, which is very important in Barranquilla) and it’s what I pictured Mamita singing as they lit the candles.

The quote below is my favourite line in the entire book! I like how this captures their relationship as it is at this time. They know each other better than they expected, better than you would think for such a short acquaintance, and it’s all because of the song, the way they interacted with each other before they met (and everything since, of course).

Cara knew his voice, the husky catch when he sang quietly that sounded like tipsy midnight philosophy, the little break in his voice around the E above middle C.

There’s so much happening in this section! I loved Javi and Bea’s interactions in this section, too. They’ve built a fair bit of trust already, even if they don’t want to admit it. We also finally find out a bit more about Susana and what went wrong.

What a complex set of emotions he’d hidden that day.

The sweet little scene with Bea was a very late addition to the manuscript, but it’s one of my favourite scenes. Sometimes, when I’m reading, I feel like I’m seeing my learning experience, the evolution of what I write. It’s a bit trippy.

The next post is here.

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