Novelist Roberto Ampuero, who had been a fellow in the International Writing Program in the late 1990s, moved with his family to Iowa City in 2000, intending to stay for three years. This On the Fly interview was recorded in 2011, and Ampuero was still in Iowa City due to his great love for the place and the life he has built. In January 2012, he took a three-year leave of absence from his role as an assistant professor at the University of Iowa to serve as Chile’s ambassador to Mexico.
In this interview, he talks about his writing process, in which he is not “the captain of the ship. There are other elements or factors who are playing while you are writing a novel. But you have the general sense that you are leading this to a certain place, you don’t know exactly in advance.”
He also considers the ways in which writing is related to both pleasure and politics. He argues that everyone could be a writer: “I think there is a kind of potential inside us of becoming a writer, a novelist…A writer is a person who thinks or feels that life, as it is, is not complete without the written version of life.”
Ampuero is the author of many novels, including a series featuring private eye Cayetano Brulé. The first book in the series is 1993’s ¿Quién mató a Kristián Kustermann? His most recent novel is 2013’s Bahía de los misterios. He is one Chile’s most popular authors and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors.