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And the Winner Is - Francisco Pérez Gandul, Author of Celda 211!!!!
In 2001, I had just published The Challenge of Writing and Publishing, when I received an e-mail from an editor at a renowned newspaper in Spain. The editor was Francisco Pérez Gandul, who had read a review copy of my book, and in his e-mail he shared with me his dreams of becoming a published author and seeing his novel -a prison-thriller- be made into a film. I read his manuscript, and I gave it back to him with my impressions. I remember discussing it with him over a "caña" (Spanish draft beer) in a café in Seville. Oh, how I wish I had kept that copy! It was not my choice of literature, but the story was compelling and the writing was strong. Paco Pérez (as he is known to friends and family) and I became good friends and writing buddies.
In 2004, when I was expecting my second child, I visited him at the Sevilla Book Fair, where he was signing copies of Celda 211, and that was his first taste of success. The sales of the book were not that good, but he never lost hope for taking it to the big screen. We would talk about it, then e-mail about it when I moved to Florida. His wife Carmen wrote to me to tell me Paco had heart-trouble and had to leave his work at the newspaper. He recovered and continued to knock on the door of production companies, until one had the guts to make it into a movie. Celda 211 (Cell 211) has swept the Spanish Goya Film Awards (Premios Goya), with 8 Awards, to include Best Film and best Adaptation. It is a prison-thriller which features a mutiny during a prison-guard´s first day of work.The real winner of the Goya Awards is Francisco Pérez Gandul. Without his novel, the movie would not exist. Sales of the novel have sky-rocketed.
Today, when I went for my run on the beach, I ran farther and faster, motivated by my friend's success which is fuel for my own dreams and goals. Thank you and congratulations, dear Paco, and I hope to see you soon - in Hollywood!