Former presidents, award-winning journalists, exiled writers and censored editors have passed through the Guadalajara Book Fair. But the most colorful security operation, until this Wednesday, revolved around a 22-year-old girl. Few things should make the organizers of a cultural event tremble more than youthful devotion. It is clear to Flor Salvador (Campeche, 1998), who at 22 years of age has sold 300,000 copies of two of her novels and this Wednesday she has signed a couple of hundred, and surely the parents of around 800 adolescents who this Wednesday they missed school to see her for a few minutes at FIL.
“When I read it, I realized the important things in life,” says Viviana, 14 years old, one of the last who managed to enter room 9 of the Book Fair. “The people who accompany us are for a while, and we must take advantage of them. Nothing is a gift ”. Salvador arrived at the largest cultural event in Spanish this Wednesday at noon to present his second novel, Silence (Montena, 2021), and 200 adolescents were already waiting for her since eight in the morning. Another 600 stayed outside, taking over one of the avenues of the fair complex, to see if their luck would touch them and they would get the signature of their idol.
Frida, 22, was left out. He says he brought his sister Saraí, 12, but they both crush a copy of Silence. “I love her,” Saraí murmurs under the mask that is a mask. Frida refines the shot: “I like her apathetic, silent, mysterious characters. His way of going through pain and death. Especially death, the first one I cried in my life was for one of them ”.
Flor Salvador killed her favorite singer when she was 16 years old. In 2015, his big obsession was an Australian pop band called 5 Seconds of Summer. In fan groups on Facebook, Salvador began to write a fanfiction about the singer, Luke Hemmings, who “continued because three or four friends” asked him, as he recalls in an interview with EL PAÍS. “I never wanted to be a writer,” says Salvador, who from her phone and serially on the social network Wattpad, wrote for two years the relationship of a girl with Hemmings, an impulsive and dark hero, who suffers a brain death after defending the honor of a friend in a street fight.
Today the story accumulates 60 million readings on the social network. Hemmings’ fake death made global news on Twitter for an hour, and when it went flat, teens around the world wanted a translation of the story. A publisher called Naranja published an issue in May of last year, and Salvador has just signed with the Penguin Random House group, which publishes his second physical book, the ninth since he began writing. Salvador, short, shy, who smiles from ear to ear, ended up studying Medicine at the Autonomous University of Carmen. He says that he never thought that everything would end with a novel on the first pedestal of the stand largest of the Guadalajara Book Fair: “A friend told me that the book was going to come out in physical form, that the same and it would become a film. I did not believe him. I think the books are what matters, not me. Now, while she ponders whether to quit her career and turn only to literature, she still does not assume a writer. “I keep writing for my readers, for the love they have for my stories, for my characters,” says Salvador, whose literary references he finds in JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter saga, and Ariana Godoy, the Venezuelan writer who was a pioneer in jumping from the Wattpad platform to the publishing world.
On Silence, a teenage girl moves from Washington to Toronto, where the new school, the dysfunctional relationship of her estranged parents, and new friends hover around the tragedy. “I am attracted to that moment in which we act and have results that we do not expect,” admits the author. “Life is also the negative. I write very sad things because I have understood that one can plan, but does not really know where it will end ”. She ends the novel with the death of one of the people and meditating on euthanasia. “I think young people are used to pink endings, that is, to things that make our lives happy, because somehow literature is to get us out of reality.” Salvador does not deny the label of youth literature, but assumes that his books should not stop at that: “Literature is for everyone,” he says. “I think that many parents should also understand that children are not machines only to be able to make them feel proud, that is, to be able to be at their size. Okay, a young woman writes to him, we are going to put on juvenile literature. But adults should read it to know how their comments affect us. “
Salvador enters, finally, as a beatle to room 9 of FIL. The cry of the 200 summoned barely covers that of the walls, which echo with the shoves of those who could not enter. Outside, Civil Protection officials improvise a playpen for fans that overflow one of the fairways.
– Because you killed? –Asks about the end a girl named Joanna.
– Which one of all? –Responds Salvador, and Joanna misses the name.
The teenage cry, this time, is soothed by the moderator, who has an important announcement: “Don’t worry. From here they all leave with the signed book ”.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.