Some of the tales from Missives from Catalina have been published before.
Having moved out of an impoverished bedsit in London’s Notting Hill, and into some money, I was considering where to relocate when I remembered a visitor from Arizona telling about Spain. He’d been living on the Costa de la Luz in the southernmost corner of Andalucia, and was full of it. Accommodation was cheap, as was living. Being on the lesser known Atlantic coast, it was still relatively unspoiled. In fact, so good was it, he intended to return as soon as he’d saved enough money.
By the time I arrived a year or two later, I’d already sold a couple of travel articles to The Independent newspaper, and my work was receiving interest from other publications, as well as a couple of film makers. Things were looking good. I rented a very small house in the country outside Conil de la Frontera and set about continuing a novel I had begun in Norway called Pedersen’s Last Dream. Meanwhile, keen to continue my success with The Independent, I also continued to submit travel articles.
It was following a News Year’s Eve party at a small bar in the centre of the pueblo I came up with an idea for a column. Though it would be based on the area I lived in, it’d be fictional. I duly submitted a piece loosely based on the New Year’s Eve party, but embroidered into fiction, and submitted it to The Independent to see if there was any interest in that sort of thing. All the names were changed, and I called the pueblo Santa Catalina, after one of the patron saints of Conil.
Imagine my shock when I received an email saying the paper was going to publish it as a bona fide travel piece the next day, but couldn’t find Santa Catalina on the map. I had to phone quickly to explain I’d only sent it as a sample of the fictional column I had in mind. Changes were quickly made to reflect the facts, and the article was duly published.
Despite the confusion, at least I was right: there was a market for the type of story I’d planned. And so began Missives from Santa Catalina. Over the next few months I will be publishing the final version in the form of a collection of short stories, which also make up a novel.