Podcast: Julian Zabalbeascoa on “Igerilaria”

Apple Podcasts logo

Listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen on Google PodcastsGoogle Podcast logo.

Spotify Logo Green

Listen on Spotify.

Julian Zabalbeascoa speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story “Igerilara,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation from San Sebastián, Julian talks about writing stories set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and the Basque Conflict. He also discusses his love of travel and his experiences running study abroad programs for college students, and what it’s like to teach The Common in his classes at UMass Lowell.

Image of Julian Zabalbeascoa and Issue 22 cover.

On writing about his Basque heritage in Spain:

“My father is a rancher. My family has sheep and cattle, like so many Basques who came to the U.S. at that time. That was my childhood. And it was not the sort of life I wanted for myself. You spend that time dreaming yourself away from the place where you find yourself. In my twenties, the idea that I would write about home, or write about the place where I came from—why would I ever dream myself back there? I spent my whole life trying to leave. And then it was that trap that catches most of us: you look at what’s being published and what’s being celebrated and you say, okay, I’ll write that kind of story. It wasn’t till my thirties that, without really much intent, I sat down in front of the computer, and I had a scene in San Sebastián in my mind. I had no idea what was going to happen next, and then the next moment or the next sentence would present itself, and it felt good. This is how I used to write, this is how I used to dream. All these stories stem from that moment.”

 

On traveling and study abroad:

“I think America would be a much better place if we could somehow subsidize the study abroad experience for college students. The message that certain politicians teach would just fall on deaf ears, because it becomes really difficult to be terrified of the rest of the world once you’ve actually encountered it…. By encountering the world you encounter so much of yourself.”

 

On revision:

“I realized I was really editing with a scalpel—trying to get it right, trying to refine it, trying to get it to sing. The editorial notes [from TC editor in chief Jennifer Acker] did have specifics, but they were also more general. For some reason that was an “aha” moment for me. I took the entire engine out of the car and I spread the parts across the front lawn and said, okay, I’m going to put this thing back together. And for the first time in a long time, the story really excited me. That was such a gift, those notes, because it was a shift that I needed.”

 

Julian Zabalbeascoa’s stories have been published or will appear in American Short Fiction, Copper Nickel, Electric Literature’s The Commuter, The Gettysburg Review, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, Ploughshares Solos, Shenandoah, and other publications. He is a visiting professor in the Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and lives in Boston. Read his story in The Common at thecommononline.org/igerilaria.

Read more about Julian and his work at julianzabalbeascoa.com.

If you require a transcript or other accessible format, please contact us at [email protected].

The Common is a print and online literary magazine publishing stories, essays, and poems that deepen our collective sense of place. On our podcast and in our pages, The Common features established and emerging writers from around the world. Read more and subscribe to the magazine at thecommononline.org, and follow us on Twitter @CommonMag.

Emily Everett is managing editor of the magazine and host of the podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. She holds an MA in literature from Queen Mary University of London, and a BA from Smith College. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily.

Podcast: Julian Zabalbeascoa on “Igerilaria”

Related Posts

Image of Nathan Poole's headshot and the Issue 23 cover (piece of toast on turquoise background)

Podcast: Nathan Jordan Poole on “Idlewild”

NATHAN JORDAN POOLE
Nathan Jordan Poole speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story “Idlewild,” which appears in The Common’s new spring issue. In this conversation, Nathan talks about doing seasonal work at Christmas tree farms and the workers from all walks of life he met there.

Image of Romeo Oriogun and the Issue 22 cover (pink seashell on light blue background),

Podcast: Romeo Oriogun on “The Sea Dreams of Us”

ROMEO ORIOGUN
Romeo Oriogun speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his poem “The Sea Dreams of Us,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Romeo talks about his life as a poet in exile from Nigeria.

Image of Shubha Sunder's headshot and the Issue 22 cover (pink seashell on light-blue background).

Podcast: Shubha Sunder on “A Very Full Day”

SHUBHA SUNDER
Shubha Sunder speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “A Very Full Day,” which appears in The Common’s fall issue. In this conversation, Shubha talks about writing stories set in India, and how she built out the insular world of Indian retirees that “A Very Full Day” centers on.