Event: Author Michael Jacobs discusses his new novel ‘The Robber of Memories’ at Belgravia Bookshop.
What: Author Q&A with Michael Jacobs and Robin Bayley.
Where: Belgravia Bookshop, wonderfully quaint nestled in the heart of London.
When: Thursday 14th March ( events are held regularly)
Refreshments: A couple of glasses of nice red and a variety of crisps and cheese twirls
Q&A with Michael Jacobs
How did you get into travel writing?
I was born in Spain and spent most of my childhood visiting Spain and the Basque country. So my life was inevitably building up to a love affair with South America. I became obsessed with travel and was inspired by Larousse’s ‘Age of Discovery and Gabriel García Márquez’s ‘100 years of solitude.’ which offered a fantastical world that I wanted to explore.
But in a way I fell into the career after my degree in Art History came to a close after my personal tutor, the somewhat infamous ‘Anthony Blunt,’ was exposed as a wartime spy resulting in me becoming unemployed and unemployable.
What was the inspiration behind ‘The robber of memories’?
A combination of my Grandfather, my parents and Marquez. It’s essential to have a guide in a travel novel as well as to write from internal necessity. My Grandfather fell in love with an Irish woman and then was sent to Bolivia for years until they were reunited in 1914, his memoirs were a strong influence. Also the title and the book is a reflection on memory which was important as my father had Alzeheimers and my mother has dementia.
You met Marquez, how was it to come face to face with your idol?
It was an interesting one. I was aware of his health issues after battling cancer. However, I wasn’t expecting him to have lost nearly all his memory, something which has been kept a secret in Colombia for a long time. It was at Hay’s Literary Festival in Colombia where I met him, however it wasn’t until a more private party that I got the chance to speak to him. What was wonderful was that when I mentioned the ‘Magdalena’ his eyes lit up and he said, ‘I remember everything about the river!’ that was the moment the book changed direction from being a simple travel novel to being one about memory.
How do you feel about the genre of travel writing?
It has become more and more marginalised. Relegated to the top floors or basements of bookshops. The internet has made travel writing almost redundant, and travel journalism is out of date. It’s become more about ‘where is there left to write about?’ rather than people writing about what they’re really passionate about with a boyish enthusiasm. In order to survive as a travel writer you have to cross genres, break genres become more ambitious, in my latest novel it’s not just about the Magdalena River but about memory and psychology.
What’s your next book about?
It’s not about travel isn’t my next one, it’s about a painter called Deigo Velazquez the painting is the starting point but it deals with a journey through history and Spain as well as partly autobiographical.
If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
Unfortunately as you get older you realise that you won’t make it to every country in the world or even every place you wish to go. Saying that I would love to do Mexico properly.
Michael Jacobs is a fascinating author to listen too and similar to David Attenborough in terms of the entertaining and varied life experiences he has to tell. He really does have an enviable life and shows no sign of running out of his so-called ‘Boyish Enthusiasm,’ and zest for the traveling life.
The Robber of Memories is available to purchase now and if the author is anything to go by it’s sure to be a fascinating read.
Rating: 8 out of 10