A passion for words throughout Spanish history

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SUCCESS: With two published novels Barbara Lamplugh says she feels confident in calling herself a writer. CREDIT: Candida Castro


A PROFOUND interest in Spanish history and culture and a talent for weaving intriguing tales with highly believable characters has proved to be a winning formula for Granada-based British author Barbara Lamplugh.

Barbara’s latest novel, The Red Gene, can count Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn among fans of the story about idealistic English nurse Rose who volunteers with the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War.

Local literature lovers now have the opportunity to hear Barbara talk about her book in person at Libreria Bibabuk in Almeria city on Thursday September 19 at 7pm and the following evening at The Roof Garden in Mojacar, also at 7pm.

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Barbara told the Euro Weekly News the inspiration for Rose and developing “what I hoped was a convincing character” came in great part from delving into nurses’ first-hand accounts about their time in Spain during the civil war.

But the inspiration for the plot following three generations of women came from the news thousands of Republican babies were stolen from their mothers and given to Catholic orphanages or adopted by Francoist families.

I was horrified”, Barbara said.

Issues around family, motherhood and identity tend to touch me very deeply and they’ve been recurrent themes in my writing.”

Barbara did a vast amount of research for the novel. This included “absolutely invaluable” interviews with older Spaniards about everyday life during the dictatorship and their family’s experiences before, during and after the war, many of which she said reduced her to tears.

I think for a story to emotionally engage readers, it must have the drama of people’s lives at its core, but you can explore those lives in the context of real events or periods of history”, Barbara believes.

Words have long been a central part of London-born Barbara’s life. A trained librarian, her first book, Kathmandu by Truck, was prompted by a life-changing overland trip to Kathmandu in 1974. This was followed a few years later by the publication of another travel book, Trans-Siberia by Rail.

Barbara turned her creative mind to novels she said partly because she became a mother, but also to further stretch her imagination.

After six unpublished efforts, and some years after relocating to Spain, she got there in 2015 with Secrets of the Pomegranate, a more contemporary tale set in Granada.

I think my creative juices are certainly enhanced by the beauty of my surroundings and the dazzling Mediterranean light”, Barbara commented.

Barbara admitted that recognition for her work is important to her. She was she said “thrilled” when the Labour Party leader wrote to say he’d enjoyed The Red Gene, but added, “every time a reader, any reader, tells me they loved one of my books, it gives me a huge boost and makes all the slog seem worthwhile.

It took many years for me to feel confident in calling myself a writer, and now I do!”

Next week’s visit to Almeria is not Barbara’s first. In fact it was a family holiday in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park in 1988 which first inspired her move to Spain 10 years later, and she has returned to the area she says “has a very special place in my heart” many times.

She also knows Mojacar well. She spent a month writing in the area and exploring when she was awarded a Valparaíso Foundation residency.

Barbara revealed to EWN she could imagine a future novel set in Almeria.

I’ll have to give it some thought”, she laughed.

It would be a good excuse to spend more time here!”

Barbara’s latest novel, The Red Gene, can count Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn among fans of the story about idealistic English nurse Rose who volunteers with the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War.

Local literature lovers now have the opportunity to hear Barbara talk about her book in person at Libreria Bibabuk in Almeria city on Thursday September 19 at 7pm and the following evening at The Roof Garden in Mojacar, also at 7pm.

Barbara told the Euro Weekly News the inspiration for Rose and developing “what I hoped was a convincing character” came in great part from delving into nurses’ first-hand accounts about their time in Spain during the civil war.

But the inspiration for the plot following three generations of women came from the news thousands of Republican babies were stolen from their mothers and given to Catholic orphanages or adopted by Francoist families.

I was horrified”, Barbara said.

Issues around family, motherhood and identity tend to touch me very deeply and they’ve been recurrent themes in my writing.”

Barbara did a vast amount of research for the novel. This included “absolutely invaluable” interviews with older Spaniards about everyday life during the dictatorship and their family’s experiences before, during and after the war, many of which she said reduced her to tears.

I think for a story to emotionally engage readers, it must have the drama of people’s lives at its core, but you can explore those lives in the context of real events or periods of history”, Barbara believes.

Words have long been a central part of London-born Barbara’s life. A trained librarian, her first book, Kathmandu by Truck, was prompted by a life-changing overland trip to Kathmandu in 1974. This was followed a few years later by the publication of another travel book, Trans-Siberia by Rail.

Barbara turned her creative mind to novels she said partly because she became a mother, but also to further stretch her imagination.

After six unpublished efforts, and some years after relocating to Spain, she got there in 2015 with Secrets of the Pomegranate, a more contemporary tale set in Granada.

I think my creative juices are certainly enhanced by the beauty of my surroundings and the dazzling Mediterranean light”, Barbara commented.

Barbara admitted that recognition for her work is important to her. She was she said “thrilled” when the Labour Party leader wrote to say he’d enjoyed The Red Gene, but added, “every time a reader, any reader, tells me they loved one of my books, it gives me a huge boost and makes all the slog seem worthwhile.

It took many years for me to feel confident in calling myself a writer, and now I do!”

Next week’s visit to Almeria is not Barbara’s first. In fact it was a family holiday in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park in 1988 which first inspired her move to Spain 10 years later, and she has returned to the area she says “has a very special place in my heart” many times.

She also knows Mojacar well. She spent a month writing in the area and exploring when she was awarded a Valparaíso Foundation residency.

Barbara revealed to EWN she could imagine a future novel set in Almeria.

I’ll have to give it some thought”, she laughed.

It would be a good excuse to spend more time here!”


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