12: Eliza Robertson, "Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus"

It's December 12. Eliza Robertson, author of Wallflowers, takes us halfway around the world for a brief reprieve from the cold.

How would you describe your story?

ELIZA ROBERTSON: Well—it's about a man who lays bird spikes on the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It's a bit of a strange story. You will find Catalan pick-up lines. 

When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?

ER: I wrote it when I was living in Toulouse in 2012. I had visited Barcelona for a long weekend, and was totally dumbstruck by Gaudi's buildings—particularly the basilica. I remember following the words "Sanctus sanctus sanctus sanctus sanctus sanctus" around the walls, thinking—that has to be the title of a story, but what story is it? I don't remember much of the writing process, but it started with the setting. Somehow I landed on the man who lays bird spikes. 

What, for you, are the essential elements of a good short story?

ER: For me, language and prose figure highly. And those bare, honest moments you find if you're lucky. 

Did this story require any research?

ER: In this case, research prompted the story. I visited Barcelona before I decided to set a story there. But after that, yes. Research on the city, its history, architecture, the features and faces of the Sagrada Familia, the civil war, Spanish and Catalan pick-up lines... 

Where can people go to learn more about you and your work?

ER: My irregularly updated website is www.elizarobertson.com (here you will find links to reviews, stories, the odd blog post.) My twitter handle is @elizaroberts0n. And you could always pick up a copy of Wallflowers!

What's on your Christmas list this year?

ER: I don't remember the last time I made a Christmas list. My favourite gifts, recently, have involved trips with family.