Inspired by Mexico: An Interview with Kat de Moor

Photo: Lucía Brándulas

Kat de Moor is a writer, who has just published her first two books, Anatomía de una entrega (translated into English by Robin Myers as Chronicle of a Longing) and Querido Miércoles.

Kat was born in Belgium where she studied translation and interpretation. Fluent in English, French, Spanish and Dutch (Flemish), she writes in Spanish. She lived in Mexico City for many years, and her love for storytelling as well as her deep connection with Mexico  inspired her to write her novels.

She is currently living in France, close to the Swiss border. Working for an international humanitarian organization in Geneva has allowed Kat to travel and interact with people from all walks of life. These elements not only played a role in her first novel but also inspired her to write Querido Miércoles.

Talking About Books interviewed Kat on her books, the writing process and her love of Mexico. 

TAB: You have two new books out. Could you tell us briefly what they are about?

KdM: My first book, Anatomía de una entrega, is a love story between Valentina (the narrator) and Vicente, who meet in Mexico, and rekindle the flame when Valentina is in Geneva. It is about a woman getting to know herself through a love affair.

Querido Miércoles tells how Natalia and Miguel find some mysterious letters, which lead them to discover the story of Valentina and her lover. Through the eyes of a musical instrument, a couple of journeys, a number of texts and a hummingbird we learn about a risky relationship which transcends borders, and the dreams, ideas and fears of the protagonists. 

TAB: Your first two books were published very soon after each other. Can you tell us how that happened? What inspired you?

KdM:  It took me a while to finish the draft of Anatomía de una entrega, which I started in February 2018 and finished in July 2019.

In August 2019, I was in Mexico, partly to meet with my editor. At that time, I was already playing around with the ideas for the second book, the sequel to Anatomía de una entrega. After brainstorming sessions with my friends, fuelled by Margaritas and tacos, I was ready to make a mind map and draft a rough outline for Querido Miércoles. I finished the first draft in May 2020, only a few months after my first book was published.

The second book went a bit quicker than the first one, I guess, partly due to the pandemic. Since the lockdown did not allow for many distractions, I was able to write more quickly. 

Although both novels are fiction, they are inspired by my own experiences, particularly the interaction with people from other cultures and my travels around the world.

TAB: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you start writing? Have you always written?

KdM: I have loved reading and books since I was a child, feeling transported into another world, identifying myself with the characters in the stories and having adventures with them. I have always wanted to write and had a few false starts over 10 years ago. I was blocked by self-doubt, the belief that I did not have much to write about, that I would not be good enough, or that my stories would not be interesting.

But in 2018, I really began to write and have not stopped! I had initially started to write a book about my experiences in my professional life, looking at how to deal with the loss of employment, but then something happened on a very personal level. That inspired me to write Anatomía de una entrega, published in February 2020.

TAB: What is your writing process?

KdM: Writing a book is not a linear activity for me, in the sense that I don’t begin with the first chapter and end with the last one. My process is more like making a puzzle, with bits and pieces, anecdotes, stories within the stories and then putting it all together. It also changes as I move forward, ideas pop up, and the plot sometimes takes a different turn. But throughout, it is important to keep the main plot and outline in mind.

TAB: The thing that really came through for me in Anatomía de una entrega was your love of Mexico. Why is that and what are the things you love most about the country?

KdM: The story in itself plays out partly in Mexico. In fact, Mexico is an integral part of both novels. I have lived there for many years and the last few years (before Covid), I was going back twice a year. I feel very connected with the country and with Mexicans. I miss it a lot; I have many friends there, and I love the culture, the colours, the music, the creativity, the architecture, and most of all the food, which is amazing!

TAB: You wrote both books in Spanish, although you are Belgian. What made you choose Spanish?

KdM. I think the answer is related to the reply of the previous questions. It made sense to me to write in Spanish because the books are so intrinsically connected with Mexico and its idiosyncrasies. Spanish is also a very rich and beautiful language and ideal for love stories. I also have adopted it as my most important language, the one in which I can really express myself.

TAB: What advice would you give to writers starting out?

KdM:  You cannot really learn writing, you become a writer by writing and it is like a muscle you need to use. You have to accept that it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it needs to be authentic. Write from the heart, write about what you know.

In Querido Miércoles I dedicate a chapter to the creative process and what writing means to me. It is the Marie Kondo of emotions to me, helping to clear them. If you think you only have a little time, write 10 minutes every day instead of an hour. Enjoy yourself doing it.

There are two books I can recommend: The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (she suggests writing “morning pages”, which is a very good exercise) and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

TAB: You said that that the best literature is a reflection of life. This is certainly true of Anatomía de una entrega! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

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