The intertwined stories of a foul-mouthed debt collector and a mother who did not want to be a mother in an unknown and unusual America.
I started writing this novel based on a question I often asked myself while driving: Who takes on picking up dead animals from the roads? Sometimes, driving in the morning, I would take a turn and, on the hard shoulder, sideways and not wanting to see it, I would glimpse an eviscerated cat. In the afternoon, when I went through that same road again, it was gone. The question haunted me for months, not knowing what to do with it.
One day, I can’t remember where or how, I discovered a YouTube video called The Accidental Sea. In six minutes, I was fascinated. The video talked about the agony of a 900 km² Californian salt lake. The Salton Sea had been created by accident, it had been a tourist paradise in the 60’s and 70’s but it was slowly becoming the perfect setting for a movie about the apocalypse.
While researching the Salton Sea, I realized that a good portion of the people living around it were descendants of hungry migrants who in the 1930s had fled the deadly sandstorms that ravaged the central part of the United States. I was also fascinated by that part of the American history that I didn’t know until then. I did a lot of research. I read Steinbeck and imagined what the exodus must have been like, I studied the pea collectors in the photos of Dorothea Lange, I watched and watched black and white and color documentaries to find out what they ate and how those uprooted people felt.
When I knew the Salton Sea and the Dust Bowl right and left, I knew the story would happen in the United States, but I didn’t know what had to happen, to whom, or how, or why. The truth is, I never know what is going to happen in my stories, until it happens. Until I write it down.
So, I created the first scene with a character who just had an accident and is lying on the asphalt, because I wanted there to be a dead animal (to see who would come and pick it up). And when I started writing and took off the main character’s shoes, I didn’t know why I took them off, or who had taken them off, or if this would have any impact on the plot. But thanks to the asphalt and the dead cat, Dylan Garcia appeared, a foul-mouthed debt collector with some unresolved issues. And someone else showed up too, to pick up the dead cat, of course.
From the Dust Bowl came the story of the Pont family. And as I was writing it, I was wondering how to connect John and Shirley Pont of the 1930s with today’s Dylan. Or how to connect the Dust Bowl with the Salton Sea. But sometimes things work out on their own: Dylan suddenly went to visit Patsy Pont at a nursing home, and I found the connection; and the Salton Sea continued its decline due to the incompetence of Californian politicians, to the point that it has unfortunately become a small bowl of dust that occasionally raises sandstorms. And the circle closed.
I have spent seven years writing this novel, entering this most forgotten America, inhabited by unique characters. If you’ve never heard of Salton Sea or all the unusual places around it, maybe once you’ve read the novel, you’ll also feel the need to find out more.
I will not write your story has not been published in English. You can find it in Catalan.