Inside the Mind of Juan Gómez-Jurado
15 de February de 2022
15 de February de 2022
When the time would come for thirteen-year-old Juan to go to bed and turn off the lights, he would pick up the flashlight and keep on reading under the sheets. Being tired or afraid of getting caught never outweighed the intrigue and the need to know what would happen in the stories he was reading; a quality that’s present in his novels and that had led him to become one of the foremost exponents of the thriller genre around the world.
Juan Gómez-Jurado was born in Madrid in 1977. His interest in literature led him to pursue a career in Information Science. No one at TVE, Canal Plus, La Voz de Galicia or COPE Radio Station —where he has worked— could have imagined what he would become in time. It wasn’t until 2006, when he published his novel, God’s Spy, that his talent became known, not only in Spain, but all across the globe.
Since then, he hasn’t stopped writing. Contract with God, The Traitor’s Emblem, The Legend of the Thief, The Patient, Scar... Year after year, his books keep on coming out. No time to rest. And his success keeps on rising and he keeps on breaking records. The trilogy made up of Red Queen, The Black Wolf and White King, was the first to have all three books among the best-selling books in Spain simultaneously. In fact, Red Queen has been the most read book in Spain for two years in a row now, which translates into more than two million copies sold.
But, how does he manage to hook his audience like that? The author works with a very clear premise: catching the readers’ attention and making them feel the need to continue reading to find out what will happen. In order to do this, he uses different techniques, like giving special relevance to the end of each page and arranging the revelations or climax so that they are uncovered with the turn of a page.
Juan’s creativity goes well beyond writing and there are numerous brands and networks that have noticed it: he has collaborated with different media outlets, he was the host of the general interest TV programme, El condensador de fluzo (The Flux Capacitor), and he was the co-creator of the podcasts Todopoderosos (Almighty) and Aquí hay dragones (There Are Dragons Here). However, there’s no doubt about what’s been his greatest and more recent challenge: Amazon Prime Video has signed him as one of its most recent showrunners, a position that only a few lucky ones have in this world — this is the second of these types of contracts in Europe. With his new project he will be able to take part in the development of creative concepts for series and films, starting with his very own Red Queen.
With his peculiar sense of humour, Juan made his presentation as Amazon’s new showrunner:
— Prime Video España (@PrimeVideoES) April 27, 2021
But, how can he always hit the nail on the head with his way of thinking? How does he manage to create content so fast? We talked about this and much more during our exclusive interview with Juan Gómez-Jurado.
How do you value creativity and how useful is it when it comes to giving you the freedom to move between different sectors?
It’s hard to define creativity. The nicest way to approach it is by taking something that already exists and transforming it into something completely different but real at the same time. If you work to achieve that, moving between different projects makes it easier.
In your opinion, which are the most important qualities of a creative person?
I think it has more to do with working hard than it has to do with inspiration, or rather the idea we have about inspiration. Let’s just say that if you sit your ass down and work 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, you’re going to have higher chances of finding inspiration.
Where do your ideas come from? I mean the good ones. Do they come to you unexpectedly or do they always find you working? How is the creative process for when you have to bring ideas to life?
I get asked this question a lot; and so does my friend, Rodrigo Cortés… And we both always give the same answer: Ideas are born from your ass! All kidding aside, it’s very important for me to try and distance myself from everything, because what I need to find exists inside an impenetrable place… Deep inside myself. If you take writing seriously, as a full-time job, there’s no doubt that most of your ideas will find you working.
When it comes to writing —or any other creative activity—, it’s normal to face mental blocks and not to know how to get started. What’s your method to get past this initial block?
It’s not the same for every writer and not every writer is the same. I, for instance, have never had a creative block — what I’ve had were days in which I wanted to say: “To hell with everything!”; days in which you don’t write because you can’t or you think you can’t. Everytime that I’ve forced myself to write while feeling like that, the best ideas ended up coming up. Like, really… The best ones. If this advice can be helpful for someone, then take it.
Do you have some advice to keep creativity flowing?
Read, read, read. Before I published my first novel, following some complete disasters, I went from reading 100 books per year to reading 300. I bought a few dozen books on the art of writing and the morphology of stories (all of them American; in Spain there are almost no good books on the subject). I improved my habits; I forced myself not to use more than three adjectives in any given page. And then I tried again — and that’s the only advice I can give you: try, once and again. Take a look at Frank McCourt; the first time he ever published something was after he was 60.
What would be something you’ve learned that could help others?
There are no muses; so they won’t magically appear, touch you and grant you the inspiration to write your novel. Sit your ass down and set goals. Write as if your life depended on it. If you want to write for four hours, then what you have to do is to read for two and, when your head is filled, sit down and write for two more hours. I often lift weights before writing. Regarding any sort of bibliography, I usually recommend Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft; it changed my life and, hopefully, it will change some of yours as well.
Article written in collaboration with: Juan Gómez-Jurado