Transcript: Ana Campos Interview With John Katzenbach

Transcript for Ana Campos Interview With John Katzenbach, YouTube Video, Los Angeles Public Library, Dec. 12, 2018

ANA CAMPOS: Hi, this is Ana Campos Manager International Languages Department at the Central Library. I'm here at la Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara in Guadalajara, which is one of the most important book fairs in the world.

I'm here with the great John Katzenbach, and he's promoting his book Jaque Al Psiconalista. Can you tell us a little bit about the book, please?

JOHN KATZENBACH: Yes. This is a sequel to a book I wrote a number of years ago called El Psiconalista. I had fought the temptation to write a sequel for many, many years. Primarily because I was afraid that I would just make all the fans of the first book unhappy with the second book. And it was not until a friend of mine told me think hard about that, that I actually began to consider returning to my characters and seeing a second story to go on top of the first.

ANA CAMPOS: And I know that you're a superstar. I saw it—I was in Argentina two years ago, and I saw the fans. They love you around the world, and I'm sure they're very happy to see this book.


ANA CAMPOS: You're making many people very happy, and I want to remind our patrons from the library that this book is available at the Los Angeles Public Library.

And how much of this—I know you used to be a journalist and used to a criminal—


ANA CAMPOS: —how much of that goes into the work that you put in your books?

JOHN KATZENBACH: You know, the truth is once you are a journalist and you've covered crime and punishment the way I did, it's like it gets into your blood. So some of it will get into every story I tell. In this case, I think that I used—it's hard—it's hard to put in a memo on how it works, but I certainly—there are pages there that are informed by what I saw years ago as a journalist.


JOHN KATZENBACH: Journalism is a wonderful profession. In a way it does the same thing as a novelist, it pursues truth just a different kind of truth.

ANA CAMPOS: I think with fiction you have the liberty to enhance that truth—


ANA CAMPOS: —as much as you want.

JOHN KATZENBACH: Well, in the case of this book, it was important for me to find two things: The psychological truth of the characters and the emotional truth of the kind of tension that I like to put into a story. And so the two of those things sort of combine, twist and turn, and hopefully the readers will enjoy it.

ANA CAMPOS: I'm sure they will. I know three of your books were made into films.

JOHN KATZENBACH: Actually, now it's four.

ANA CAMPOS: Is it French?

JOHN KATZENBACH: Yeah, a French film. Well, you know, the French are wonderful. The first scene is a beautiful young girl getting out of bed naked. And, of course, the old guy like me thinks this is going to be a wonderful movie. So, yes, I've had—I've had—but three others have been filmed,and I'm optimistic that a couple others will—

ANA CAMPOS: Any hints for us the readers so we could go and get those books and be like okay the movie will come?

JOHN KATZENBACH: Well what's interesting is, I believe, they're going to remake Just Cause

ANA CAMPOS: Okay, wow.

JOHN KATZENBACH: —and that would be interesting. And, of course, this is always on the table out in the film world.

ANA CAMPOS: We're going to be looking forward to this book. I want to thank you for your time.

I want to remind our patrons out there that the book is available at the library. We have it in other languages. I work in the International Languages Department. We have books in 30 different languages so I'm sure we definitely have your books in many of those languages.

JOHN KATZENBACH: I'd like to tell you that I can speak every one of those languages, but with—

ANA CAMPOS: [Indiscernible] Let's hear some of those words. Do you speak any other languages?

JOHN KATZENBACH: I barely speak English so my Spanish is muy malo.

ANA CAMPOS: Muy malo, but good enough to get around I'm sure.

Just one final question, I know your father was a U.S. District Attorney.

JOHN KATZENBACH: Yes. Yes, he is.

ANA CAMPOS: Have you ever used—because I'm sure you got to see things and any of that in the books?

JOHN KATZENBACH: Well, one book was based specifically based on him, which was—I wrote a book called La Querra de Hart (Hart's War), which is about his experiences in World War II. But, after that probably, you know, your family creeps into your writing. Sometimes it's hard to say exactly how, but I believe that in every book there's something of them.

ANA CAMPOS: Okay. And my final question, we are librarians and then fellow librarians behind the camera, we always ask, who were the authors, the writers who inspire you?

JOHN KATZENBACH: You mean the living authors or the dead ones?


JOHN KATZENBACH: Well, certainly I grew up loving Dickens and I grew up loving Dostoevsky. I'm very, very fond of John Showers. And, I believe—I think, I said this before, I don't know how this is translated into Spanish, but the Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov wrote a book called The Master and Margarita, which I think—I think—I can't remember what the Spanish Latin name is, which was an extremely influential book. It's fantasy, it's about what happens in Moscow in the 1920s when the devil and his revenue come to cause some trouble.

ANA CAMPOS: Oh, wow.

JOHN KATZENBACH: It's a wonderful, wonderful book.

ANA CAMPOS: I'm sure we have it at the library. Well, thank you so much this has been great. And thank you, patrons, for watching.

JOHN KATZENBACH: Thank you. And, you know something, I really, really believe in the power of libraries. They reach out to people and they connect them to words and books. And this is one of the great, great things left on this planet.

ANA CAMPOS: Thank you so much.