In my books I use food to reach and unite people.

Joanne Harris (Barnsley, UK, 1964), He gives this innocent charm to his charactersas the protagonist chocolateThe novel that made her famous all over the world especially after starring in the movie Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Joanne is one of the stars of this version of Celsius 232 from Aviles.

Author of twenty novelsstories, game scripts, opera scripts, audiovisual production scripts, a musical and numerous cookbooks, awarded the OBE for her contribution to Anglo-Saxon culture.

Joanne conveys this love for the little things when she talks about her first visit to the 232nd degree. “Loved the food, it’s some of the best I’ve ever eaten. Aviles is great, it’s a very welcoming place, as if they were welcoming you. And the buildings, the architecture of the city, are beautiful. I’ve been here a little more than a day and in these hours I’ve met more people than in recent years.”

“The magic is in the stories we tell ourselves.”

“Chocolate” cover

Since Celsius 232 is a festival of great literature, we asked him if fiction is present in his works. “naturally. My first book was about vampires and the second was about ghosts. Almost all of my novels have supernatural aspects, folklore elements, myths, and legends built into plots…even those books that are for all audiences, and are more commercial”

Magic the author finds in the fact of living: “I think the magic found in traditional folklore, It is a metaphor for change and transformation. One of the reasons we tell stories with magic and imagination is because we want to believe we have the power to change ourselves, to change the world, to change others, to change our own way of seeing the world.”

He adds, “I think.” The possibility of change is something that imagination gives us through literatureThrough wonderful lands, new universes, new worlds. So, yeah, I think magic is in everyone’s life and in the stories we tell each other.”

“Food allows us to reach other cultures”

Cover of “Five Quarters of Orange”

In addition to writing several cookbooks, food is present in almost all of his works, including chocolate. “It is a priority for everyone A universal experience for all people. This is why food is also important in stories and narratives.”

“Food can also be a useful method, he continues, To reach other cultures and reach others, other readers… There are also cultural elements in the way we eat or express our culture through food. Not forgetting that food is very related to family and friends. ”

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He adds: “Although” Food also contains an element of guilt, especially in Western culture. For not eating or eating a lot. Should we eat this? Shouldn’t we eat that? And in folklore stories, in fairy tales, food always plays a symbolic role.

“A role -contacts Joan-, which can also be transformative. For example, the apple in the story of Adam and Eve, in the story of Aphrodite and Paris and even in fairy tales, such as Snow White. That is why I use this magical ingredient associated with food in my books . I use food as a metaphor for something, for example, to reach people, to forgive“.

For example, in my novel Five quarters of orangeFood is a focal point of contention within society. and in Secret peach fragrancethe heroes are two separate communities for ideological reasons, which, suddenly, must live together for the sake of a culinary festival. For me, food is a metaphor for talking about people“.

“I’m not a chocolate addict”

After writing four novels in the world chocolate, ask Joanne Harris what this food is for her. “I love it, but I’m not addicted to chocolate,” she admitted. I’m more interested in the folklore that surrounds it and the history of chocolate itself. How this chocolate culture migrated from a small tribe in South America who knew cacao and how it became something very important around the world.”

Today it is one of the most international flavors -Add-. So chocolate has its own version of history and it is also connected with myths and folklore.”

The success of Chocolat allowed me to become a writer.

On March 4, 1999 it was published chocolateJoanne tells the story of Vien Rocher, a young single mother who comes to a small French town to set up a chocolate shop, with her six-year-old daughter, Anouk. Despite the initial hesitation, he ends up conquering the parishioners Thanks to his rebellion, sympathy, and a little charm.

“What I wanted – confess to us – was Talking about the power of food to bring people togetherCelebrating these traditional family meals since my childhood. We talk about tolerance, religion, and motherhood. Because it’s also a mother-daughter love story.”

The novel was so successful that in just one year (2000), a Hollywood movie was released. Directed by Lacey Hallström and starring Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp and Judi Denchwhich was nominated for five Oscars.

“I love the movie – he admits – it’s not exactly my book, but I didn’t expect it to be. I think the casting was very good and the director did a great job.. And thanks to the music they created a different atmosphere than I had imagined, but it was magical. ”

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Chocolat movie poster details

The success of the novel allowed her to leave the classroom (for 13 years she was a teacher of French language and literature). “I was finally able to devote myself to writing, which is my dream. And no, I don’t miss being a teacher. Or at least not enough to return(Laugh)

In these 23 years devoted to writing, I have published four novels from around the world chocolate. We ask him if his life runs parallel to the life of the hero. “It is inevitable that there will be some similarities. We are not the same person but we have been through similar things sometimes. What we are most similar to is the role of the motherBecause when I was writing chocolateI had a little four-year-old, and then when I published the books, we both tested how our daughters grew. I needed to reflect this development in my life in my character.”

As for whether she will continue to write more Vivianne stories, Joanne tells us, “Maybe. For now, I’d like to write about his daughter and also look at the past of the main charactersWhat happened to them before? chocolate. I would like to find out what young Vivian was like before she became a mother and started a chocolate shop”

Play in a band

Secret peach perfume cover

Joanne’s first career was to be a singer, although she admitted that she “didn’t have the necessary talent”. But for many years he was playing in a folk ensemble. “For me music is a dream. And a way to take the narration another way. The relationship between writing and playing a musical instrument is very close. Some of my recent books are based largely on traditional European novels rich in stories and folklore.”

“There are a lot of folk songs that are very interesting and can be used to create something original in the narration,” he adds. These stories can be turned into a play, with musical elements, into a musical. And my teams and I have made a kind of music that combines these two things, storytelling and music.“.

“During the pandemic, we haven’t been able to do a live show, but we’ve already recorded two CDs and are about to release a third and go back to live shows. I wish for Christmas“.

We also asked him about Brexit. “It’s a disaster. Fortunately, I also have a French passport (his mother was French and has dual citizenship) and I have more freedom of movement, but It is very harmful to many people, especially to artists, which has many limitations. It really brought about a lot of economic problems and people started to realize that it was a mistake.”

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He is fascinated by legends

Cover of “The Gospel According to Loki”

As you saw in the interview, Joanne Harris is passionate about legends. One of his last books is The Gospel according to Loki (2019). “From a very young age, I read myth books and loved Norse mythology, because it is very close to our culture. Especially in the part of the UK I live in, which is a big part of Scandinavian tradition. There are many similar linguistic and folklore elements, because they visited us and left a part of that culture. That’s why I’m so interested in this topic.”

Young people know these Norse legends from the Thor movies, so we asked him how reliable he is. “There is no version of these legends that we can consider basic -Affirmations-. Because these legends were transmitted by oral tradition and were written after the Christianization of Europe. Christians only told us what they wanted to know about this tradition. Until the seventeenth century, when they began to try to save that culture.

He adds: We can only get a vague idea of ​​what these stories really were, because they never stop changing. We can say that it is a story that is still alive. And this is now being discovered by young people through these superhero movies. These mythical characters are constantly being reinvented and have expressed themselves in different ways according to social changes.”

Regarding her projects, Joanne Harris tells us: “I am currently working on two things, an already completed fairy tale that is set in London. p A novel similar to a little curryby Stephen King. The novelty is that my hero, rather than being a teenager and enjoying her powers as she comes of age, is an older woman who gets these gifts when she goes through menopause. So, She’s Carrie in her fifties“.

Regarding a possible adaptation of another of her novels for cinema, Joanne Harris tells us: “I would love it. I always leave the doors open when it comes to selling the rights to my novels in cinema. But we already know how slow the process can be. So I don’t worry too much. If it does, it will, and if it doesn’t, then nothing will happen either. I enjoy writing”

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