HÃ©ctor Tobar at the 2011 Texas Book Festival.
Los Angeles, California
I think, as journalists, we sometimes are afraid to enter into the emotional lives and the complications of the lives of the people we write about – we don't really have the space and the room to deal with those things. But as a novelist, that's precisely what you're writing about.
I think even a hero is someone who has sort of the flaw or imperfection of character. I remember Alice Walker saying that once – she'd written a novel about a civil rights hero, and it was someone who had this flaw, this central flaw.
I come from a family of working people. My parents were Guatemalan immigrants who spent most of their lives in the service industry.
The influence of cinema on all contemporary writers is undeniable. Because film is such a powerful and popular art form, we prose writers think cinematically.
As a professional journalist, I've been interviewing people for almost thirty years. And the one thing I've learned from all those interviews is that I am always going to be surprised.
I spent my whole life as a writer talking to just the average guy in Los Angeles and Latin America, talking to working people.
I've never been on a paperback tour before, you know, because usually you go on tour when a hardcover comes out.
My job is to listen and to ask questions and to be respectful and win the trust of my subjects so that I can work my way into their memories and their point of view.