I’ve always believed that all writers, whether they will admit it or not, have a few favourites among their published books. Of all the books I’ve published ever since I picked up this odd business of the novelist trade back in prehistoric 1992, Marina remains one of my favourites.
I wrote the novel in Los Angeles in my early thirties and was beginning to suspect that what romantics used to refer to as my ‘first youth’ was, slowly but surely, starting to slip through my fingers. By then I had already published three novels for young adults but soon after embarking on Marina I knew that this would be the last I’d write in the genre. As the writing advanced, everything in the story began to acquire a shade of farewell, and by the time I’d finished it, I sensed that something inside me, something that even today I cannot explain, but that I still miss every single day, was forever left among its pages. Maybe, like Marina once told Oscar, we are doomed to remember what never really happened.
In May 1980, 15-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts…
His story begins in the heart of old Barcelona, when he meets Marina and her father German Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m. precisely a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman dressed in black, her face shrouded, wearing gloves, holding a single rose. She walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings.
When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her they begin a journey that will take them to the heights of a forgotten, post-war Barcelona, a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.
‘A magical, gothic tale’ Glamour