Buy the Book
Buy the Book (Canada)
Around the World
About the Author
CARLOS RUIZ ZAFÓN, author of The Shadow of the Wind and other novels, is one of the world's most read and best-loved writers. His work has been translated into more than forty languages and published around the world, garnering numerous international prizes and reaching millions of readers. He divides his time between Barcelona and Los Angeles.
Why I Write
Authors are often asked why they do what they do. Often by themselves, as they sit wondering why they didn't become corporate lawyers or dentists or arms dealers. Why do we choose this strange profession that would rank right below the vocational do-gooder in a list of the least-likely-to-bring-success occupations in the world? I can't speak for my colleagues, but as far as I am concerned, I write because I really have no other choice. This is what I do. This is what I am.
I am in the business of storytelling. I always have been, always will be. It is what I've been doing since I was a kid. Telling stories, making up tales, bringing life to characters, devising plots, visualizing scenes and staging sequences of events, images, words and sounds that tell a story. All in exchange for a penny, a smile or a tear, and a little of your time and attention.
I write for a living. I've been writing and making stuff up to make ends meet since I left school. It is my way of surviving, of earning a living and of navigating this world. It is my way of bringing something to the table, contributing what I believe is the best thing I have to offer for others to enjoy.
I have written for young readers, for the movies, for so-called adults; but mostly for people who like to read and to plunge into a good story. I do not write for myself, but for other people. Real people. For you. I believe it was Umberto Eco who said that writers who say they write for themselves and do not care about having an audience are full of shit, and that the only thing you write for yourself is your grocery shopping list. I couldn't agree more.
As I said, I am in the business of storytelling. This is an art, a craft and a business, and I thank the Gods of Literature for that. I believe that when you pick up something I've written and pay for it, both in terms of your money and something much more valuable, your time, you are entitled to get the best I can produce. I believe this is not a hobby, it is a profession. If you're pretentious enough to believe that what you write might be worth other people's time (as I am), you should work hard enough to earn that privilege (as I do). Which brings me back to the question of why I write. Sometimes people ask me what piece of advice I would give to an aspiring author. I'd tell them that you should only become a writer if the possibility of not becoming one would kill you. Otherwise, you'd be better off doing something else. I became a writer, a teller of tales, because otherwise I would have died, or worse.
I am happy I survived, and I am happy we met along the way. I plan to keep on doing this until they shoot me down. I hope you have enjoyed the things I've made up for you. If you didn't, give me another chance. I'm always working on something new, and hopefully better. What can I do? Make-believe is my business.