"The pen is mightier than the sword". –Edward Bulwer-Lytton, "Richelieu", 1839.

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Mónica Subietas (Barcelona, 1971).

 

I was born in the city of wonders, where anything is possible. Perhaps this is the reason why my professional profile is threefold: I am a writer, journalist, and designer. I write it in this order because it happened this way, although, in the end, everything is communication.

I don't remember exactly when my romance with letters began. I only know that it was easy. My curiosity for them was very precocious and I learned to read at the age of three. Contrary to what usually happens, I did not start reading illustrated albums, but a newspaper. Children learn by imitation, so I did what my parents did. I still remember the head, written in a condensed Wild West look-alike typeface: El Noticiero Universal.

After the newspapers came the books. My childhood reading was quite often in the "teenage detective gang" genre, and Enid Blyton was my favorite author. I was also fascinated by stories that allowed me to choose the adventure, so I could go back and take another path when I didn't like the ending. I admit that I haven't changed a bit in that respect: I still prefer happy endings. It was then, around the age of seven or eight, when I first thought 'Someday I will be an author. Someday I will write books'. Someday.

At eleven I crossed the line between the real and the unreal: I told my friends that I had changed my name, Monica, to Janet. Janet was my favorite character in The Secret Seven Society collection and the main one in the stories I was beginning to write. I couldn't keep up the lie for long, but that was my first attempt at fiction. And I thought everyone would believe me.

During my teenage my narrative vocation took shape and I discovered Mercè Rodoreda, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, and Bruce Springsteen. I took every opportunity to write and I loved doing my friends' essays. They, of course, were delighted to have someone do their homework. However, being a writer was not a real profession for my family: 'Writing is nice, Monica,' they told me. 'But that's not what you do for a living'.

Luckily Lou Grant showed up to contradict them. Lou set the course for me: I graduated in Journalism and specialized in Photojournalism and Social Reporting. I was feeling like Dorothy on my way to Oz when suddenly an unexpected detour appeared in my path of golden cobblestones: in my senior year of college, an enthusiastic professor introduced me to Editorial Design. With him, I learned that the printed letters that fascinated me as a child in my parents' newspaper were called typefaces. Out of the blue, letters could not only be read, but they could also be designed. Fascinated by this new world of creativity, I decided to add another specialization to my profile and moved to New York to learn Editorial Design at the School of Visual Arts.

For 15 years, Magazine Design became my main occupation, although I continued to write as a freelance journalist. Working with a newsroom schedule left no time for my childhood dream of becoming an author, so I tried to silence my attraction to fiction. It was in vain, because in the back of my mind as if whispered by Jiminy Cricket, I kept hearing the word I was repeating to myself as a child: someday.

Finally, when I turned 36, I decided that the day had come and began to write a story that I had in mind for long and that would end up becoming my first novel. Many things happened in the process.

One afternoon I caught up with some friends at a famous bar in Barcelona, Café Zurich. One of them brought unexpectedly a Swiss colleague –from Zurich– who became my husband two years later. We settled in Switzerland and I started working as a freelance Journalist and Designer for Swiss publications. While learning German, I focused on my novel. I put the finishing touches shortly after becoming a mother. Writing “The End" was a moment of plenitude. I felt so fulfilled as if I had found a cure for Rett Syndrome. Those 312 pages were real, tangible, and not just a dream. I could do it.

And I can't stop doing it. Because since that first "The End," I can't help but chase that powerful moment. This is the reason why I keep on writing: to get to the end, to reach the happy ending I've always loved. The happy ending of my romance with letters.

 

Mónica Subietas