I was born in S.Sebastião da Pedreira, in the center of Lisbon. If you dig it up, you’ll find a surprising number of Lisbon-born Portuguese were actually born in that bairro. It’s the place where you’ll find the largest maternity in Portugal.
I moved to the Madeira Island when I was 2 years old. The island is made of two 2000-meter-high mountains in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. A tiny spec of dust in any world map, but it’s there, about the same latitude of Casablanca but far away to the West. My father was an executive and an entrepreneur, and my mother was a nurse, and I had a younger brother and a younger sister I could annoy. But most of the time, I resorted to books.
I don’t really know how old I was when I started writing stories. I wrote them for school, I’m certain, but the first time I wrote without any academic goal I was 12. Sometimes in the Summer we would go to my grandmother’s house in Continental Portugal, north of Lisbon, near Coimbra, and once in a while I, my siblings and my cousins would enact a show for our parents and uncles. When I was 12, I decided to write a play for that purpose. I never finished it. I never finished a lot of stuff, back then. I started novels and all kinds of stories but wasn’t convinced of the outcome. So, I began writing short stories, just so I could learn, making sure I finished them.
When I was 18, I came to Lisbon to study Law and then Business Administration. I kept writing different stuff. When I was 22, a friend of mine incited me to submit something to one of the largest and most prestigious Young Writers’ contests. I did and won an Honorable Mention. I tried again two years later and won the whole thing. I went to Torino and them Rome and Sarajevo, representing my country as a Young Writer. One of the best times of my life.
And then came the dark years. Many years of failed novels, and unproduced plays and movie scripts and so on. I managed to publish a few short stories in anthologies, as I started my career as a journalist and then a business consultant and trainer. But nothing really good came of it but experience and hard work.
Then, one day, I decided to write a Scifi novel I had been chewing on for some time. That’s was The Alex 9 Saga. I showed it to a publisher who’d just included a short story of mine in an anthology, and he loved it. I was a published novelist one year later, and soon was featured in a series alongside names like George R.R. Martin or Bernard Cornwell, hailed as an author to recon with in Portuguese Scifi. How about that?
I thought I’d made it then, but I hadn’t. The publisher changed strategy and stopped publishing Portuguese Scifi and soon I wasn’t publishing any more. I turned to the movie business. I was invited to write a feature-film and ended up producing it as well. A hell of a ride. Went on to write a few more scripts for film and TV.
But by then, my new Scifi novel, The Dark Sea War Chronicles, was almost written. Soon, a publisher I met at an event made me an offer and there we go. I was on the roll again. The Portuguese version of The Dark Sea War Chronicles won a prize and then my next novel was bought and the next one as well.
Have I made it? This is a tortuous path. We’re always second-guessing ourselves. But the main people I want to impress is my readers. So you tell me. How’s my writing doing? Ready for the next story?
Bruno Martins Soares