A Look at the Portuguese World



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The writers with adventurous eyes

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Most people do not know how to tell a story, but it is not the case of Isabel Alçada and Ana Maria Magalhães who write adventure books since 1982. The saga which is now in its 58 volume went to the island of Madeira for another adventure, which was presented in the city Funchal, before a younger and a more adult audience who had the opportunity to make some questions to the writers, in addition to my questions.

How did it all start for this new adventure?
Isabel Alçada: We have planned "an adventure in Madeira" which begins in Funchal and ends in the capital of the island. The central characters are the twins, Teresa and Luísa who has a poodle named Caracol, a boy called Pedro who is very good student, knows all, is careful, Chico that is sporty and has a feature that we very much enjoyed, never hits the younger or the weaker, on the contrary, he protects them and the youngest is João who has a dog named Faial, a German shepherd, which we felt us it was very good to go in the history. In "an adventure in Madeira" only enter the human characters, but animals do not, because it was too complicated to move them to Funchal and decided to make a visit with adventurous eyes, or be able to imagine, have a filter to discover mysterious nooks and go into special places so we can write. We made a visit to the island, we were here several days, both have come at other times to stroll as tourists, but we had not come as writers.

Ana Maria Magalhaes: While the source does not dry out will continue. I'll explain how to look a land with adventurous eyes, when writing one of the volumes of an adventure not only we want to shine the land where history is taken place, as you must have a narrative that fits well. Then we went to the laurel forest and we were lucky, because when we got there began to fall the fog, it soon gave a mysterious look, just missing up a witch, or a gnome or a fairy and was soon decided that it will entered in the history. Imagine at then began to blink the eye, when I was in Funchal, because it wanted to join the adventure? It was the deserted islands. I told Isabel that had to get into the story and she said it could not be, because we were not there, but I insisted it had to be, because every time I look at the sea, the Desertas talk to me and you will check they enter the adventure. Then we went the caves of São Vicente and when we entered that wooden structure seemed we were going to penetrate the center of the earth, was the ideal place to happen something extraordinary, because it had the underground lakes, which are lit with a golden light and we are taking notes and photographs. Has come to my attention that children Machico complained that his city did not go in, but is that the whole island does not fit and is always a pain in the soul let whatever out. Then, there is something else, all the books in a more clearly, or more obscure way always have a novelty, in this adventure there is a character who has an unbearable temper, it seems, it can actually be just that did not grew well, but it is worth to verify if that person had problems, for example, if it lacked affection when it was little and so does not get along with anyone, sometimes we see children who are isolated, don't we? Do they have the right to be alone? Or had a problem? Had no brothers? Therefore, we sensitize in an original way, unexpected even for us, using a character entering the adventure. In "an adventure in Madeira" the character is in love with a girl and does not know if his feelings are reciprocal, he does not know if she smiled at him with an charitable look, or to be friendly, or because she smiles at everybody has problems deciphering what others think and feel and you will know him in this book. There is another place that was reserved for the adventure that is the shelter house there on the mountain, is tiny and has the door open, has a fireplace with wood logs to be able to make a fire to heat and shelter from the rain, there is nothing to steal, not to eat, but if you take a backpack with supplies can be used and the main characters end up doing it. This book has another character, John Gonçlaves Zarco, I'll tell you why, I loved to had come to him in the journey of discovery of Madeira. I cannot imagine what it must have been to see this island for the first time, if there was or not wildlife, or a warrior people who wanted to kill them, enter the territory without knowing what was inside.

What was most difficult in terms of writing in adventure books?
IA: The hardest thing was to leave some of the local part aside, because the island is very inspiring. When we landed we agreed that Madeira is wonderful and has a touch of magic to write stories for the young. We let ourselves be inspired and were in places that could not fail to come, as the House of seedlings that have all that atmosphere surrounded by cliffs. In other stories, as we are two, which in our case we understand each other well, we liked to be inspire by places, we talked to people and then the idea of one inspires the other and we write the book.

AMM: In "an alarming adventure" had an issue that we did not dominate who were the microbes, so we had to ask for help from a doctor and when we had a question we called, but what happened was often that either he had left or was in consultation and we reached the conclusion that involving an outsider is very complicated for our work. So we agreed that adventures on science are done, because this was the most complicated book.

What is your favorite book?
IA: When we have children we liked them all, when we have grandchildren we liked all, this book is like a grandson was the youngest and is our baby. Some books we liked more because things of our lives are connected, "an adventure in the woods" which is set in Sintra is linked to my childhood and where I usually spend holidays, this story has a special meaning for me.

AMM: I have too a favorite, "an adventure in Christmas holiday" passed in the estate of my grandfathers, all locations and all persons entering the history exist or have existed. Those adventures were I lived as a child, so this in my heart and I have a very special affection for this story.

IA: When we walk in a levada is a marvel, but we also know that plants are special and are part of a set which is heritage of humanity and we wanted to talk about it, carefully not to say anything wrong, so we phoned often to Aida Pompo Correia, who specially studies this forest. Although it is an adventure story, which is written must be correct so that readers have confidence about our writing and you will verify that plants of the Laurel forest have a very important role in this story.

How does this magic remains for over two decades?
AMM: I and Isabel came from large families where children were well treated, encouraged, cherished and when by chance we went to the same school in 1976 discovered quickly that we got along very well, we prepared lessons and tests together, get used to to jointly prepare the minutes of meetings of teachers, we did not know, but we've been training to write together. We started to write short stories for our students, who appreciate though, were used more by our colleagues that asked them for their classes. Until one day, we were at home in January, I do not know on what day and Isabel challenged me and said what if we sat down and started to write books to publish? What do you think? And we quickly discovered that it was easy to make long stories, why? This was important, we found out that we have an accelerated super pace, a lot of people cannot stand, we have similar ideas, we have may way the same regard at life and are accustomed to avoid conflicts, because as older sisters were used to helping to resolve conflicts. We never waste time arguing when we have a problem we stop and let aerate.

You know what is the difference between the twins?
AMM: We know, but they asked us to never revealed their secret, we promise never to tell, because a teacher word never turns back.

When focused on the work they perform together for the books, one of the issues highlighted was the fact that always introduce something new in the adventures to be all different. How do you choose these new things? Since biology, characters, etc.
IA: We always choose something worthwhile to convey to readers, something positive, it is inspiring to them, who want to know more. In the case of Madeira we spoke about the flora, we felt that the forest Laurissilva is a mysterious and charming place and then decided to go a little further revealing the plants, much depends on the circumstances and the place where the story goes. For example, there must always be ups and downs with opponents, characters that help to create problems in the case of Madeira had to find original villains because the island is a pleasant place, friendly and not the kind of place we can find evildoers.

Regarding the bandits before Ana Maria Magalhaes focused on the fact that adult readers have asked that the adventure books had not bad guys and when it happened rained complaints.
ANM: What readers wanted is that the bad guys were not so bad, that there was no violence at all, but in the saga of adventure is an action book must always be a moment of danger, we made an attempt "an adventure in land and in the sea "and the public reacted badly, so we had to create more suitable bandits history, for example," an adventure in Spain" that is country that kills bulls, eat, and sleep late, all it is excessive, so we got ourselves a gang that steals jewelry, willing to do anything. Here in Madeira we had a problem, it is a soft earth, invites you to relax, how we will finf people to do evil? We tourn our head around the subject, but will not say how we found a solution that we would never have used before.

When you think the bad guys have in mind the phrase about Portugal is a country of mild manners, is it?
IA: No, we tried that our stories are positive and the bad guys come just to create adventures, suspense, but we like the very clear difference between what is right and wrong to do so, our bad guys are not in a medium term, are not friendly, they are criminals who do wrong things and that our readers immediately recognize as reprehensible and not fancy them even nothing to identify with those characters. We have as main objective to write our stories to create taste for reading, for readers who have these ages to drove them to begin to read a book until the end and they feel pleasure in doing so, our main mission it is to create readers. But after being teachers is almost inevitable that there is if you will, a pedagogical attitude, the books have an educational component and in this regard we liked to set values. The team of central characters have a strong friendship, are different from each other, help each other, are able to join forces, they are supportive, do not lie, so there are a number of characteristics of those characters in contrast to those against whom they fight and who do not live, do not share that way of being in the world to find worthwhile help and not harm others.

You are writers for decades, there are differences between those first readers and the new generations?
AMM: What we notice is essentially that entered the new technologies, from mobile phones and the internet, all this must be part of the stories. because it is part of day-to-day. The pace of life has accelerated a lot and the adventures must also accelerate the action happen faster, but essentially people have not changed, changed the way of living.

Also focused your almost symbiotic relationship, you ge along very well, do not argue, but sometimes in certain chapters of the book there is a kind of blank where you know that the narrative has to take a leap and do not know very well how, are any of these moments?
AMM: It is already unlikely the two of us have a blank at the same time, but it has happened.

IA: In these days we stopped, we have breakfast, but never we stopped talking, we are very communicative, we talked until we feel that we have reached a time when we found something that interests us and that we thought worth writing that day, when we thought is not valley, we not insist.

AMM: The important thing is that we are both looking at the work and are not isolated, or in competition, it does not exist, what matters is writing the book. If I may have an idea, but if it she has a better one I'm glad, this has to do with our way of being and the education we receive.

How many hours a day you work together to have the structure of an adventure?
IA: Many hours a day, for example, before we have a plan that we feel it is right, we will visit the places, we talked a lot, we take notes, we often make photographs of places, is a type research / report and then write the book and the characters. We also often describe many aspects of characters that will not be effective, but no matter, we have built characters with family and did not enter the story, are there to make a set. At the beginning, of course we took much longer, less now, but the story as "an adventure in Madeira" that it was necessarily to enter more locations gives us more work than an adventure more drive in one place. Here we wanted the sites to enter in a logical construction and a narrative structure that has some sense that the reader think that is inevitable, the characters are not going to walk in the levadas the adventure takes them there.

You have reached the point where the kids will grow?
AMM: No, they will not. Only grew one year in "an adventure in school" and then stopped, because after 50 books then they will be adults, had children and went looking for a job (laughs). Each book stands on its own, for example, "an adventure in Madeira" may be the first reading.

So any reader can start reading the adventure without being just at the first?
IA: Yes, every book has a unit, they can know the characters and understand the story with volume 58.

This applies to all series?
IA: To all the books, there is no continuation from one to another narrative, the characters remain for a collection of this nature, but each book is a unit.

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