I’ve finished chapter three of Broadcast From Heaven, my story about psychic hackers learning Portuguese. Chapter Three is set in Madrid, in 1996, and follows Dr. Maria Pilar Etxarte. This chapter took longer because large chunks of the fundamentals of the world revealed themselves by trial and error — I’d write a little and then vaguely cast ahead to the world that needs to happen and find it was just a big smooshy mess of poorly-demarcated psychics all winning the lottery constantly. So I’d backtrack a little and try again. I know understand the world a lot better.
I’m writing each chapter in a new time and space to get over my writer’s block of losing interest in a topic as soon as I hit three thousand words. This chapter is in Madrid, in 1996, three years before the story culminates in the psychic hackers learning Portuguese. My main character for this chapter, Dr. Maria Pilar Etxarte, but I was surprised to find several characters recurring naturally, which has never happened before.
At the end of the previous chapter Davey Hamm had been arrested by the British Establishment, but his brother Nicky Hamm had gotten enough warning to flee. It’s a trope that British gangsters flee to the Costa Del Sol, in the south of Spain, so I knew my next chapter would be in Spain. I knew I wanted my next chapter to focus on a female lead, because I’d had two male leads so far, and I knew I wanted it to be a short hop forward from 1995. For her to be a consultant at the Hospital Infanta Leonor she needed to be around 35 in 1996, so born in 1961, which co-incided with the increase in popularity of double-barrelled women’s names.
Etxarte is a Basque name. As I wrote Dr Etxarte’s character — work obsessed, ex-military — it came to me that she was working to get away from an identity she did not embrace. My story is not about cultural divisions in Spain in the 1990s, but I could not write a story there without doing some reading and having it influence my characters. I would welcome feedback on my portrayal of an ethnicity and culture different from my own.