Maria Dueñas never intended to become a novelist; a professor of English Philology at the University of Murcia, she was far more accustomed to penning academic articles than flourishing in fiction. But, (lucky for us) after 20 years of academia, she felt ready for a change, 'I’ve always been a good reader, I’ve always been involved in the world of language, how it works, and I have always had a very vivid imagination, so I decided to put those three things together.’
The Seamstress is now a multi-million copy selling international bestseller, and a novel which transports us through Madrid, North Africa, and Lisbon, from the start of the Spanish Civil War through to the Second World War. The inspiration for the story was partly taken from the tales passed down to her from her mother, of her childhood in the Spanish protectorate of Morocco in the 1940s, and partly from the meticulous mountain of research she conducted, she reveals to Publisher’s Weekly, ‘It was fascinating—the historical information was so rich and I learned a lot. I researched archives, books, old newspapers. I focused on the capital city of the protectorate [Tetouan] where my mother was born. Then I started to research the Spanish administration there, the role of government officials, the people in charge.’
Her hard graft has resulted in a grand and epic tale of war, glamour, espionage and passion, hailed by the Financial Times as ‘a richly satisfying novel’ and dubbed ‘magnificent’ by Juan Gómez-Jurado. Now working on her second title, we expect there are many more great things to come from this author.