May 5, 2011 / 11:12 AM / in 6 years

Spanish film-maker tackles invisible legacy in book

MADRID (Reuters) - Having children spurred Spanish award-winning director and script-writer Julia Montejo to turn her hand to literature and she has just published her second novel with a third one on the way.

“I’ve been far more productive since I’ve had two kids, maybe because I‘m scared of all the talk that, oh, now you’re a mother you’ve stopped dead,” Montejo told Reuters from her Madrid home.

“I haven’t stopped work at all. I’ve written for television, I’ve got two novels out, there’s the Fox deal and my university teaching,” she added, referring to an agreement to film her script “Heart for Auction” with Twentieth Century Fox, a unit of News Corp.

Heart deals with a young woman eager to study and escape a poor background in which her friends’ aspirations are limited to being footballers’ girlfriends.

She takes the desperate step of putting her virginity up for auction on a game show fighting for ratings.

“It’s a film about sex, without sex. She would go to any lengths on television, which I think is very topical,” Montejo said.

INVISIBLE LEGACY

Montejo lived in the United States for eight years, during which she wrote and directed U.S.-Spanish production “No Turning Back” in 2001, which won best independent Latino picture at the ALMA awards, a Latino version of the Oscars.

She returned to Spain in 2004 and had her first child in 2006, the same year she released “Eva Desnuda” (Naked Eve), a finalist for the Plaza y Janes book prize.

“Violetas para Olivia” (Violets for Olivia), her second novel, went on sale last month in Spain and is due to be published in Italian by Mondadori.

Montejo tells of a young professional struggling to shrug off the shackles of what Montejo dubs the “invisible legacy” of female role models handed down over the centuries, set in the context of a hide-bound family in southern Spain.

“We have only just begun to make a break,” she said. “They’re still selling us the tale of Prince Charming and all those Bridget Jones-type novels in which women are professionals but unfulfilled because they haven’t met the perfect man.”

“We women have to understand where this comes from, because if not we won’t be happy or form meaningful relationships.”

“Olivia” charts how generations of women have married by arrangement or out of convenience, which either forces them to hide behind religion or become rebels.

“The character of Olivia learns a lot, lives a lot, to the full, she rebels but is incapable of teaching her daughter to prevent her from making the same mistakes,” Montejo said.

The novel marks a departure from her first book, which was more of a crime novel. Montejo declined to reveal the theme of her third book, but promised it would be “very different” again.

“I like to write books which are varied, shall we say. I get a bit bored with authors who write the same old stuff. I‘m mulling over a lot of ideas and I still like to explore, not just plots and subject matter, but structures and styles.”

Editing by Paul Casciato

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