The Writing University conducts a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the various University of Iowa writing programs. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.
Today we are speaking with Elisa Ferrer Molina, an MFA Candidate in Spanish Creative Writing at the University of Iowa. Elisa is from L’Alcúdia de Crespins, a little town in Valencia, Spain. She used to be a screenwriter in TV shows and script analyst at the Fiction Department of RTVE. When she realized that for carrying out an explosion, she needed a large crew, she decided to embrace the solitude of literature. She is the author of the essay The Royal Tenenbaums in Wes Anderson (Pedro Rodríguez et. al., Plan Secreto, 2014), and the short story Don Hipólito in Historias de clase RiElatos Vol.1 (Sergio González et. al., RiE, 2014).
1. Hello Elisa! Do you have a plan or project in mind for your time at the University of Iowa?
I’m currently editing my first novel, Temporada de avispas, a project I began in Madrid. When I arrived here two years ago, it was a small collection of three short stories, which have now grown into this novel thanks to the MFA program, its workshops, and the time Iowa has given me to reflect on my work. The novel explores the search for identity and the way in which memories are built through two narrative voices coming from the same character. It also criticizes how the patriarchy interferes in motherhood.
I’ve discovered here that I love writing poetry, and I’m also working on a collection of travel poems. The unifying thread in the collection is its focus on the moment when we are ready to sleep, read, relax, or otherwise engage in solitary behavior while in transit and someone starts talking to us.
2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?
I have always admired writers who can start their day at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning with only a cup of coffee, day in and day out. I, on the other hand, am not a creature of habit. I wish I were, but it’s just not me. I used to write late at night when I was younger, but now I find that I can write best either before or after lunch. It just depends on the day. There are some days when I write a lot and others when I’m not in a creative place and end up reading and rereading the same paragraph. Those days are the hardest.
3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?
Right now, I’m reading Lectura fácil, which is an amazing (amazing!) novel by Cristina Morales. Last year, it won the Premio Herralde, one of Spain’s most prestigious literary honors.
I read for both pleasure and research. When you’re a writer, it’s hard to separate the two.
4. What is something the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and/or your work?
Everything I write is fiction, but it comes from real life.
5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home?
I’m from a small village in Valencia, Spain, called L’Alcúdia de Crespins. In Arabic, this name means Hill of the Crespins. I know this because my father wrote a short story in which he explains that the Crespins were the dukes who owned the village during medieval times.
I’ve lived in Madrid for eleven years, and I miss its streets and bars full of life, but I miss L’Alcúdia de Crespins even more. L’Alcúdia is close to the mountains and the sea, so close that you can smell them both. It’s quiet (some might even say boring), but I love to take walks around the orange trees, and every Sunday we have paella for lunch in my parents’ garden. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried a real paella in Valencia, but I can promise you it’s worth the trip.
Thanks so much Elisa!