Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On the making of a character

I have been asked by friends about the main character of the novel, Guillermo Lombardo. And here is a summary of the answers I have usually given:

Lombardo is based, physically at least, on a police captain who came to investigate the burglary of my office. He was a peculiar person for a Mexican cop. He wore a black mackintosh, had very dark hair and mustache, was very thin and dark skinned, spoke very little, and smoked those strong, cheap cigarettes known in Mexico by their brand, "Delicados", which means "delicate ones" (what a misnomer!)

He quickly saw that the burglary had been an "inside job" and guessed that one of the city policemen assigned to be night watchmen of the science center where I was director, had gotten drunk and had taken office equipment to hock and buy more liquor, so he quickly got my stuff back without any fuss or bother.

To the "framework", I added the demeanor and lifestyle of a police captain I was acquainted with when I was asked to trace the emails of the dean of a University who had left the country after being accused of fraud.

A friend of mine worked for the Public Ministry's computer department and when asked if he could trace the dean's emails he said he didn't have the expertise but that he knew who did: he directed them to me.

At the time, I was working as an independent computer network consultant and was setting up and ISP in Monterrey, Mexico. The cops came to me and asked for my help. That experience and the police inspector I met then, helped me round out Lombardo's character and demeanor.

I added a few things from my experiences and from things I heard here and there, and the man came alive.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An Inconsequential Murder - a political crime novel

Recent events in Mexico prove that the "War on Drugs" is not being won by anybody, and is being lost by all. Dozens of murders each day, billions of dollars invested in the war--money which could have been used to fight poverty and disease--are being wasted, and fear, suffering, and social dis array are widespread.

My novel deals with a central issue to this "war": legalization. For years there have been rumors and even public pronouncements by public figures hinting at the struggle between legalization and anti-legalization groups on both sides of the Mexico-US border. Conservatives in Mexico and in the US have traditionally opposed legalization of even the most "benign" of the currently outlawed drugs, that is, marijuana. On the other hand, liberal groups not only point to the success other countries have had in legalizing and controlling the use of such substances, but also of the regulatory measures which have kept usage in check of other substances such as the liquor and cigarettes.

Another question posed in my book concerns the lack of desire exhibited by the US government and the general population in the US to fight the consumption of drugs and the sale of armament to the Drug Cartels.

Most Mexicans believe, and with some validity, that if the Drug Cartels are exporting tons of drugs into the US, three things are evident: one, somebody is letting them into the US, two, the drug market there is bigger than anyone cares to admit, and three, past, present, and future governments of the US are content to portray this as a Mexican problem (of supply) and not an American problem (of demand).

The novel describes the murder of a young man in Monterrey, Mexico, a large, industrial city located in the country's northeast. The subsequent investigation discovers a "legalization war" involving public and private citizens of both countries, as well as the illegal activities of governmental institutions concerning the issue, from both sides of the border.

This is not a pitch for you to buy the book (although I would not mind if you do so) but rather a discussion of the issues that are part of the book's plot. In a future post I will provide a link to an excerpt of the book (as well as to the book itself). I would appreciate any comments not only on the matters mentioned above, but also on the book or the excerpt itself.