She is now on the cover. the journalist Bethlehem Juncoformer deputy editor of the magazine ‘Hello!’to which he has dedicated more than 40 years in the profession, makes his debut as a novelist with ‘The Queen of Nairobi‘, a love story and a lot of “glamour” with a young, intelligent, independent and attractive protagonist who, after suffering the whiplash of her partner’s betrayal, goes to Africa.
Why did the chip change?
For years I had the illusion of writing a book, but I always knew it would be fiction. I have already experienced reality throughout my life through my work on “Hello!”, with the characters who receive us every week and tell us about their interesting lives, which is why I was especially excited to tell a story created by me, a own story. “The Queen of Nairobi” has almost changed the chip of my life. Now my intention is to write and write… I hope the readers help me.
A hymn to second chances?
Of course it is like that and it is also a song of love, friendship, optimism, courage and self-improvement. The protagonist, after a love betrayal, has to reinvent herself in an unknown place and certainly nothing like her previous life. She gets to put passion into everything she does and finally also gets an unexpected and exciting life.
Ahem, fell in love with Robert Redford from “Out of Africa”?
Haha… Of course, like half the world or like the whole world!
Going to fiction was easy?
Well, it has been simple but only at the beginning. Starting a story is easier than ending it. The tour is long but so vibrant and interesting that I found it a wonderful experience. I would almost say that it is a chronicle dictated by the protagonist herself… She was dictating it to me every night, every morning.
What is left by the way is what defines a life?
Life is defined by the entire path traveled, both what is left, as well as what is built and what is rectified. Life is defined by your works, your loves, your gestures, but obviously what is left is your inheritance for others.
Have you learned anything about yourself by writing the novel?
A lot, especially that the illusion makes you brave. I never imagined that, after a lifetime working as a journalist, I would find another new way to fulfill myself so interesting and exciting.
Would you change your profession to be a pilot and live in the clouds?
Not anymore, but at some point in my life, maybe I would have done it, even if I had been a pilot/journalist, because communication is in my blood. She would have written about every trip and about every feeling of living in the clouds.
What headline would you put to the current state of journalism?
“Vibrant and confusing.”
Will we one day read magazines and books written by AI?
Well, I don’t know very well how it will be, but I am sure that it is, that the evolution of communication is being so rapid and almost aggressive to history, that I suppose so. That is why I say that journalism now is, above all, vibrant. Every day we communicate in a different way and with new springs and platforms.
Does the friendly journalism of ‘Hello!’ Does it show that there is room for a model away from the sound and fury?
Of course. What is beautiful, kind, aspirational, human, entertaining and informative will always have an important place in our society. I think “Hello!” It will last over time because it is journalism that is very much ours, it is in the DNA of the Spanish people, it is fun, informative and close.
Have you been disappointed with celebrities?
Celebrities are human beings like any of us. Sometimes it could happen but they have always had a personal explanation that makes it understandable. But after so many years working with them, I have to say that most of them are kind people, close and affectionate with us, and that they have almost always made our work easy and communication fluid.
Reports on luxurious houses are a classic, would you like to live in one for a while?
Of course, not some, many… Most are an unattainable dream. I would have gone to one with my eyes closed and almost always to those that are in the sea or, precisely, in Africa.
What would the journalist Belén ask the novelist Belén?
Well, she is proud of her work as a writer, of her new illusion.
Have you ever thrown a crack at life?
The main one is when you get married, if you get married, of course! It is an ordeal to life because you change the singular for the plural. Your opinion for our opinions… Your life, for the lives of your loved ones. And in the professional aspect, like everyone else, I’ve had to throw in several cracks that little by little have built my career. And, of course, now that I’ve gone from journalist to novelist, if the readers support me, of course.
Your favorite word is “perhaps”, does it reveal something about you?
Well, I suppose I’m open to everything: maybe others do it better, maybe there is someone who is more right than me, maybe life still surprises me with something interesting… “Maybe” is not doubting, it’s also opening other paths, it is waiting for something new, different, it is hope.
What would you ask Queen Letizia?
Well, first I would thank you for your work for Spain, impeccable and intense, and then, logically, for your life with the King, with your family, what do you do on any given day when you don’t work, if you read magazines, your favorite books, if the Rey is a participative father in his daughters’ education, which, from the relationship we see when they are together, is sure to be the case… Well, many things, he is a very interesting person. I would get much closer to the personal, logical.
Does your novel share a style guide with “Hello!” when tackling entertainment?
Maybe so but, in any case, I find it natural. After so many years dedicated to kind journalism, as it is called, my novel had to be similar in values. “The Queen of Nairob” is utter fiction but in its pages there are, inevitably, bits and pieces of the writer who can resemble “Hello!” in style, I guess that’s only natural.
Can elegance be found in an African village?
Totally, and my protagonist demonstrates and reflects it. She finds in the Maasai an indisputable code of fashion inspiration and I, like her, also consider it that way. Elegance is in the clothes, agreed, but also in the way of moving, in the temperance when speaking, in the silences and in the philosophy of life.
If the news flies, where do you fly?
Well, I fly with the wind, which goes faster, hahaha. Well right now I’m flying between India and England which is where my next novel will take place.
Ana Obregón, to the fullest…
Ana Obregón is an institution in Spain and she knows and appreciates it. She has been a person who has always communicated her joys, and now she has also done it with all her heart. I don’t think anyone has the capacity to judge it otherwise. I was moved to see her smile again looking at her baby. I’m not there anymore, but I wait impatiently for the covers every Wednesday like the rest of the readers. “Hello!” always get the best, and it’s not “mother’s love”, haha…
As a fan of Picasso, do you think you have to separate your personal life from your creative life?
The truth is that I believe that people are a pack and that it is difficult to separate our personal life from our creative part. Everything influences and Picasso is a faithful reflection of it. Each stage is influenced by the moments he lived, by the women he loved or by what was happening around him.
Is this novel the one you would have liked to read?
Haha, I think so, I love love, romanticism, beautiful houses, well-laid tables, I love friendship, I love attractive seducers and above all love, although there is also heartbreak… and if all that It happens in Africa, because it already fascinates me. I only hope that the readers of my novel enjoy these qualities and have an unforgettable time that makes them dream and entertains them and, above all, that they know that it is written with absolute humility.