How often is it that hours of trivial conversations over a bottle of wine with friends on the ‘emotional baggage’ we all carry can push you to write a book about it all? The fears surrounding failed love and the uncertainty of getting up off your feet and riding the relationship roller-coaster all over again can fill you with insecurity. A concoction of fiery and intense feelings can also become fleeting and empty in the blink of an eye. Where is love nowadays? Why are we afraid to try again?
Carla Sequeira, a mother of two, moved to Gibraltar almost a decade ago and now lives happily with her new partner and two children, Mariana, 6, and Gustavo, 10, but it was not always peachy for her. She found herself in a situation where she needed to overcome emotional barriers when she and her ex-partner ended a nine-year relationship. Carla’s book, ‘#Deixa-te de Merdas’, (co-authored by her old school friend, Marlene Romão) was launched last month at the Sociedade Recreativa Progresso Olhanense in her home town of Olhão in the Algarve, Portugal. The book, that took merely a year to write, looks at the tail end of relationships and the challenges faced by people who are once again in the market for love.
What gave you the idea for this book?
Writing a book has always been a childhood dream of mine. Coincidentally, it was Marlene’s dream as well. I believe that everyone who crosses your path does so for a reason, so maybe achieving our dream was the reason we crossed each other’s lives. This project was born and grew up through our friendship.
What is the book about?
It is about life, feelings, the degradation of relationships nowadays and the negative impact interaction through social networks can have in the way we relate. We talk about everything, from the intensity and magic of one’s first love to the fears of failing to achieve a ‘happily ever after’ relationship. This book has stories filled with the emotions we have all felt or can relate to at one time or another. The second part of the book is composed of narratives of someone who has overcome the guilt and fears of the past and fell in love again. I think this book can reflect as a bit of a story in all of us. Even if you do not find yourself in all the pages, there is at least one that will make you think: “Oh! I’ve lived this.”
What is the ultimate message?
That love is much more than the futility in which it seems to have transformed to today. We must learn from our experiences and make new mistakes, never the same ones. And if we fail again, at least we know that love hurts but does not kill. In life, as in a game, we can always re-insert the coin and play again. Then… life goes on and it is always better with love.
What challenges did you face while writing?
It wasn’t difficult… We wrote about the truth, what we believe, our experiences and the way we see other people’s experiences. It can’t go wrong when you are writing in what you truly believe in and there was always a lot of respect and understanding between Marlene and I.
How much does the content reflect your personal life?
How much? Everything! This book may not be considered a self-help book, but for us, the authors, it was the self-help we needed to sort out the past, understand the present, and realise what really made us happy. There are many reflections about our lives and many others about the lives which have crossed ours. We can almost say that it is poetry written in prose.
Could you give me some interesting anecdotes from the book?
Almost all anecdotes have to do with the page we created on Facebook as a starting point for writing the book. More or less like a vehicle to see the acceptance of our ideas. We have almost 16,000 followers… Many people sent us messages, telling us their experiences, asking for advice. It was almost as if we were their counsellors. It was strange for us because we just wrote what we felt and we had something in common with these people as we had also failed in our “happily ever after” stories.
Tell me about the co-writer, your history together, why you decided to collaborate?
We have known each other since forever, we were neighbours since the age of five and colleagues in secondary school, however, it was not until two years ago that we became friends. We were Facebook buddies and we both noticed that our posts, ideologies and beliefs were very similar, not to mention the books we read. We started chatting on Facebook and ended up meeting for dinner with another colleague from school who encouraged us to write together. So, I went to Portugal for a weekend and we met. That night was amazing and a bit surreal. We felt confidence in opening up to one another about our pasts, our fears and hopes for the future. We bonded very quickly and saw that, ultimately, our generation all had the same issues and fears. We came to the realisation that love was an ageless subject which meant that these issues weren’t exclusive to our generation but to all generations, both past and those to come.
Do you circle around feminist issues?
No… not at all. Even though the book was written by two women, it is not feminist at all. On the contrary, we talk about feelings and what we all really want and need to be happy. There is a chapter called ‘We all want the same’ where we emphasise that we are all different but in the end we all want the same… A company, an understanding, shared happiness, no one needs a jealous maniac who only adds stress to our lives. No one needs a relationship that drags for years and years but you can’t even remember the last time you had something in common with that person.
How did you manage to get the book published?
Well, when we considered that we had enough texts to finalise the book, we did a few searches online to identify publishers that would be suitable for this kind of book. We chose seven and sent an introductory email explaining what the book was about and the project itself, including the link of our Facebook page where they could read our texts. Out of the seven, three publishers came back to us requesting the draft of the book. We sent it to two of them as we did not want the draft to be in too many hands, it was risky as we could have had a ‘no’ and then the door would be closed. Luckily, one of the two came back in a matter of days, Chiado editora, which is represented in Portugal, Brazil, Angola, UK and Spain. And that was it… from there onwards it was a matter of negotiating the clauses of the contract and starting the bureaucratic nightmare, but the effort was compensated.
What reaction have you received in Portugal?
It was fantastic. We had an influx of over a hundred people, including five of my friends from Gibraltar. They came to support me which was fantastic due to the fact that they took a trip of almost four hundred kilometres to go to a book launch in a language that they wouldn’t understand… This is true friendship and I run out of superlatives to express my gratitude to them. It was a day of many emotions and nerves, but full of love and pride. After the main event, we signed books and people wanted to take pictures with us, which was weird, cool, but weird. In short, I can say that it was a day full of love. It is not often that one can say: Today, my dream came true!
Will you have it translated into English?
As per contract, if the book sells 3,000 copies it will be translated into English and Spanish. But that is a long step, so for now we are leaving this as it comes, but I must say that the support here in Gibraltar is amazing. I sold over 30 books to people who will not be able to read it, but still bought it to support me. I am certainly feeling the love in the Rock that I call home.
Do you have Gibraltar as a potential market?
Yes, off course, if we ever achieve the 3,000 copies requested for the translation to happen, I would be very proud to have “#Deixa-te de Merdas” circulating in Gibraltar. Not only because I live here and the people who surround me are curious to read it, but also because the theme applies to the reality of Gibraltar too.
words | Mark Viales