Cosette is 17 years old and is the daughter of Melchor Marín, the Catalan policeman who stars in the novels Terra Alta (2019) and Independencia (2021), by the writer Javier Cercas. The teenager discovers that her father hid from her how her mother died. And shortly after, she traveled to Mallorca for five days with a friend. She, but she does not return or respond to messages from Marín, who decides to travel to the island.

Thus begins Bluebeard’s Castle, the novel recently published by the author of Soldiers of Salamina and The Laws of the Border, among other works, and which is part of the trilogy of Terra Alta novels. Marín is now a librarian, but the search for her daughter prevents him from living a peaceful life and he enters an absorbing, sinister and luminous whirlwind to find out what happened to her.

“Novels always raise moral issues. Writing a novel is a pleasure, like sex, and a form of knowledge. You learn things that you did not know and that are fundamental that have to do with justice, with the law, with friendship. I have to get to places I didn’t know. If I don’t get any surprises, I won’t publish the novel. In Bluebeard’s Castle I have discovered that the relationship between parents and children always has a tragic dimension. Because a tragedy is a fight in which the two who are fighting are right. And between parents and children it is like that, especially in adolescence, which is a key moment. We parents are right in wanting to protect our children. Melchor Marín wants to protect his daughter from the truth, but it hurts her. And she wants to know that truth, she wants to emancipate herself, to know who she is. Both are right, but they inevitably collide,” says Cercas.

Javier Cercas el castillo de Barbazul

The writer Javier Cercas. Photo: L.M. Palomares.

-Why did you place Mallorca as the setting for the novel? Was he tired of Catalonia?

Nerd. It was unavoidable. It’s not that I said: I fancy Mallorca. The reason is that Catalan adolescents, above all, but also from anywhere in Spain, make the typical end of high school trip to Mallorca. That was in my time and it still is now and it will be in the future. For Cosette it was perfect. No teenager goes to Madrid, that’s absurd. They come here, to Mallorca, to the beach, to the sea, to party.

-How is your relationship with the island?

That was one of the problems. I did not know Mallorca well. So I started looking for informants, people to help me, like my editor, Raquel Gispert, and Biel March, from Club Pollença. In the end, my novels are like movies in the sense of production, because there are always many people who help me. Writing a novel isn’t exactly telling a lie, but it’s close. You have to tell something that has never happened, but that is convincing, persuasive, believable and for that you need to know the truth very well, the reality of things. I always document myself very rigorously because I want the reader to believe the fiction that I am telling him.

-Several of his books have been made into movies. The Laws of the Border, directed by the Mallorcan Daniel Monzón, has just won the Goya Award. Will Bluebeard’s castle have its movie version?

Yes, it will take that road. And I’m very happy. There is a project with an interested producer. It’s not going to be a movie, it’s going to be a series, which is better.

-Will it be a series with the three novels?

That is never known. We will have to ask them (laughs). But my job when someone buys a novel to take it to the cinema is to do nothing. I give absolute freedom. You have to understand something: go to another language. The novel becomes something else entirely.

-What subjects you didn’t know about did you learn while writing Bluebeard’s Castle?

I have learned a lot about Mallorca, about Pollença, the Mallorcan society. I did not know and I have learned a lot about how people who have been victims of abuse are treated. That is a topic that is still very fresh, it is very recent. Men have been mistreating women since the world began, but we have only realized it for decades.

-The trilogy addresses the abuse of power from various points of view and violence, among other issues. Precisely the world is now experiencing a war in Ukraine. Has it surprised you?

I am horrified like everyone else. Putin had been warning about it for a long time, but what happens is that we don’t want to see reality. Look: Chechnya, Georgia, Crimea. He had already invaded the Ukraine. And the US secret services had been saying for a long time that an invasion was coming. We knew this man was a danger. History has many such cases. Perhaps we did not imagine the scale, but this was going to happen. And we are at the border. Majorca is Europe. If they attack Romania, we are at war.

-The end of Bluebeard’s castle is quite open. Will there be a fourth book?

It’s true, I’ve gotten myself into a mess. I do not know…

Portada de “El castillo de Barbazul”. Foto: editorial Planeta.