C.J. Sansom Interview

March 19, 2009

HistoricalNovels.info interviews
the author of Winter in Madrid

It was a special pleasure to present an interview on March 19, 2009, with author C.J. Sansom about his spy novel Winter in Madrid, set during the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.

The Spanish Civil War seems to have been largely overlooked by the many novelists who have written about the World War II period. What inspired you to write about it?

I think it is only recently that those European countries which were not major players in the Second World War are receiving some attention. I studied the Spanish Civil War at University and became interested in wartime Spain, after Franco won the civil war and was neutral but pro-Axis. The Franco regime in the 1940s was as savage as anywhere in Europe under the dictators; I felt that deserved writing about.

The moral complexities faced by the characters in Winter in Madrid reminded me of novels by Graham Greene and John le Carré. Have these writers influenced your work?

Both Graham Green and John le Carré have been important influences on my writing and thinking, and I take comparison to either as a great compliment. Both write about how political commitment, or the prospects of collaboration, can bring out the best or worst in our natures.

Did you visit Madrid while researching the novel?

Madrid to me is a character in the book. I visited the city many times and walked the streets where the action takes place. What has been written about Spain in the period has tended to be set in Barcelona; I always wanted Madrid to be at the centre of my book.

Review of Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom

"The Children of Franco's Orphanages," an article by C.J. Sansom

See listing for Winter in Madrid at Powell's Books

See listing for Winter in Madrid at Amazon.com

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