Who is our hero, Gabriel Sánchez?
In a way, Gabriel grew out of two little girls!
The first, whom I knew vaguely from her birth until she was about seven, had been born with an horrific facial deformity. Considering how our society worships beauty, I couldn’t help thinking the world would treat her unkindly.
I met the second little girl, a gaunt and listless one-year-old, in nineteen seventy-two, in an undeveloped part of Andalusia. (My family had a second home there for many years. I fell in love with the area and the people.) Esperanza lived with the other nine members of her family in a two-room cottage in the middle of a field. It had a single water tap but no electricity or drainage. (Many homes in the nearby fishing village also lacked sanitation.)
Esperanza had been born on the same day as my own little daughter. The difference between them was heart-breaking. My infant, born into comparative affluence in the UK, not only weighed more than twice as much as Esperanza; she seemed twice as alive and twice as happy. What was the outlook, I wondered, for a child growing up in Esperanza’s Third World conditions?
I’d always wanted to write a novel, and I’ve never forgotten those two little girls. And so, years later, Gabriel was born – a fictional Spanish boy growing up in rural Andalusia during the Franco era, facing the challenges that arise from extreme poverty and grotesque facial deformity.
The story of those challenges and how Gabriel fares is told in my debut novel GABRIEL
(Read about the second little girl in my Blog entitled ‘Gracias’)