Hi guys! We have debut author Laura Bailo stopping by today with her upcoming debut novella The Sun Still Rises, we have an awesome guest post from Laura and a great excerpt, so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
The Sun Still Rises
Erik’s father lived for Pamplona’s yearly festival and the running of the bulls. Now he’s gone, and Erik flies to Pamplona on a whim to see the festival his father loved—without booking a room first. He’s looking at sleeping on the ground until friendly David from the tourism office offers to share his home.
When Erik realizes he trusts David, that he might even be willing to face his anxiety to get to know David better, he begins to understand what this trip could mean. Pamplona is even more beautiful when seen through David’s eyes, and Erik might have traveled around the world just to find himself. But can he hold on to his newfound confidence—and to David—when it’s time to go home?
World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.
More than just the running of the bulls!
You know, when Dreamspinner put out the call for the World of Love collection, I spent a few months looking at it and thinking “maybe I could do this?” But it wasn’t until I showed a friend my idea, and what I’d like to write about, that it all became real to me. After that, I claimed a story set in Spain and once they gave me the go ahead, I started writing.
You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this, right? You see, I had to think about something that could only happen in Spain, and something I knew well. Having lived in Pamplona all my life, I knew the San Fermín festival quite a bit; and I’d always thought everyone knew about it. Every year, when the festival comes around, the media starts bombarding us with statistics about visitors and their countries of origin, and with small interviews that take place in the streets of Pamplona. We always get a lot of international visitors, and it’s probably what we see in the media that makes us think the festival is so well-known everywhere.
I was mistaken. Once I’d decided what the setting of my story would be, I asked around what people knew about the festival. Some of them knew nothing, some only knew about the running of the bulls. And that frustrated me. Although to be fair, I guess it is the most spectacular thing to take place during the festival.
Why write about the running of the bulls, then? There’s a simple answer: because it fit Erik’s character. The people that run, the ones that run every year, they have a special relationship with the race. They’re prepared, they know the rules, and they mostly run the same bit every year. They respect the bulls and what the race represents. That’s what I wanted to show when I described Erik’s dad and how he came to Pamplona to run every year.
But then some of my frustrations bled into David’s character. He’s the Spanish guy, the one that works in the tourism office and knows a lot about the city, and the one that’s a bit fed up with what’s become of the festival. He thinks that now people only know it for the running and the “partying all night” kind of festival. But there’s much more to it. He tells Erik a bit about it in the book, but I’d like to highlight some of the things I love about the San Fermín festival:
- There’s never a dull moment. You go up to the city and you always find something going on, doesn’t matter what time it is. There are activities for kids, for adults, different shows… I believe the city doesn’t sleep during that week.
- The music. We’ve got at least two different concerts every night, and access is free for everyone. There are international and national bands, and solo singers. Some of them are well-known and the place holding the concert will be full. But moving between the audience will be difficult too when the singer is not famous. I believe it’s a great opportunity for both the audience and the bands.
- The giants! This one is quite difficult to explain, you need to see it. In Pamplona, we’ve got four pairs of giants, each representing a continent: Asia, America, Africa and Oceania. They’ve been around for ages, so their appearance is probably a bit stereotypical. Still, it’s not their looks what truly matter here, but the way they dance. Under each giant, there’s a small place where a person fits, and it will be that person who will bear the weight of the giant on their shoulder and that will dance for them. Here’s a video from last year so you can get a better idea of what I’m talking about: (Dancing starts around the 4:00 minute mark) The ones you see “hitting” the children are our cabezudos. They accompany the giants every morning, and the kids love running before them and trying to avoid being hit. Those mornings are a must for every child in Pamplona – I remember begging my mum to take me there every year.
- The fireworks. The festival holds a firework contest every year, and we get fireworks every night. They last for around fifteen minutes and watching them is always a pleasure. You can go lie down on the grass in one of the city parks and watch them like that. They’ve always been one of my favorite things about the festival.
And of course, there’s the city itself. I love Pamplona, and I consider myself lucky to live in such a beautiful city. However, I’ve got to admit that if you want to truly see the city, it’s better to visit anytime outside of the San Fermín festival. The Sun Still Rises takes place during the festival, and even so David and Erik get to do a bit of tourism so both Erik and the readers can get to know Pamplona. I hope you fall in love with my city the way Erik did!
ERIK GAVE up trying to fold the map and threw it on the passenger seat. At least he wasn’t completely lost. The guy in the car rental office had told him he only needed to follow the GPS instructions and he would be there in five hours. But the same guy forgot to include the GPS charger, and two hours into the trip the battery of the damn thing had run out, leaving him stranded. He was on a highway, so he kept driving until he found a rest stop.
According to the map, he was somewhere near a city called Burgos, so at least he’d been going in the right direction. If he kept driving without any more stops, he should be in Pamplona in two hours. First, he needed some coffee. He had slept on the plane, but the time difference was starting to take its toll on him. He went into the café and ordered a latte and some kind of prosciutto and tomato sandwich, feeling thankful the waiter spoke English.
Once he had eaten his breakfast—lunch? He had no idea anymore what time it was back home—he made a quick stop at the restroom and returned to the car.
Two hours and fifteen minutes later, he finally encountered the sign that let him know he was entering the city. He’d actually had a nice time driving, and he’d been amazed by the scenery. There were a lot of mountains and green fields; it was all so different from what he was used to seeing in his hometown of Phoenix.
He asked for directions, and after a lot of gesturing and too little speaking in stilted English, an old man explained how to get to the car rental office. He was shocked he managed to find it without having to ask again, and after returning the car and picking up his backpack, he asked the employee at the counter what he needed to do to get to the city center.
“Oh, that’s easy. See that green post out there?” he asked, pointing at something out the door. Erik looked at it and nodded. “Just go over there and wait for a bus to stop. Doesn’t matter which number, since these days the last stop is the same for every one of them, and that’s the closest to the city center you can get.”
Erik thanked him and was headed for the door when he heard the guy’s voice again.
“I almost forgot! Do you have coins or a five-euro bill? They won’t accept anything higher than that.”
Erik was surprised, because back home you couldn’t pay the driver in cash and needed to buy the ticket before hopping on the bus. He thanked the employee again and went to wait near the post.
He only had to wait five minutes for one of the buses to appear. It was already packed. He would have guessed it would be mostly empty, since he seemed to be on the outskirts of the town. After what seemed like an eternity trying to get the correct amount of money from the coins he had, he gave up and shoved his hand at the driver for him to pick them out. He hoped the driver wouldn’t think he was rude, but he just laughed and took the coins. It seemed the spirit of the festival had infected everyone.
There was quite a bit of traffic, so he stood hanging on to a yellow post and put his backpack between his feet. Observing people had always been one of his favorite ways of passing the time, more so after he’d become a writer—sometimes the spark you needed came to you just by sitting in a café and paying attention—and he could indulge in it now.
There wasn’t a prominent age group that he could see. Everyone from babies to grandparents looked prepared to enjoy themselves. All of them were dressed the same: white trousers and shirts and red handkerchiefs. Some of them were also wearing red sashes around their waists. Erik remembered his father taking care of his clothes and the look of desperation on his face when he realized he wouldn’t be able to wear them again.
They are sitting in the doctor’s office, Erik and his dad, waiting for news. At this point, there is no good news. It will be only bad or worse. And from the look on the doctor’s face when he comes in, the latter is the most probable outcome. He can’t listen to him saying the words, can’t stand to hear how long his father has left to live. Erik refuses to look at the doctor, centering his attention on his dad instead, wondering how he can avoid screaming or raging, how he seems so… just so calm.
Erik should know better. Once they are back home, his dad doesn’t make it one step inside before breaking down, and even then he looks sedate, crying silently. But Erik knows him, and he understands how much he is hurting; he inherited his stoic personality from his father, after all. There isn’t anything he can say or do to make it better, so he just hugs him tight and lets his dad cling to him while he cries. His memory takes him to all the times he had done it for Erik as a child, and he promises himself he will do right by him now that he needs someone to lean on.
They get into a routine after that. They don’t mention the inevitable, but it hovers there, on the edge of their minds, all the time. Two weeks later, his dad asks Erik to look for his San Fermín clothes; they are in the attic, and he doesn’t trust those stairs anymore, not now that he is so weak. So Erik goes looking for them and finds them, along with all the festival memorabilia his dad has collected. Thinking about it may lift his spirits a bit, so Erik takes them to him and listens to him talk about the bull running, the fireworks, and the people he’s met there. For a little while, a smile returns to his face, but afterward, Erik sees the desperation in his eyes, the sadness, and the realization that he won’t get to put on those clothes again, and it breaks Erik’s heart.
A woman shook Erik and told him something in Spanish he couldn’t understand, taking him out of his memory. He looked around and saw the bus was empty and the driver was looking at him and pointing at the door. He got the message and hurried off the bus. Apparently, he was in the city center. Now he just needed to figure out where to go from here.
Laura Bailo is a veterinarian and a teacher in training who can do surgical sutures but can’t sew on a button to save her life.
She lives in Spain with far too many books and boxes full of notebooks. She loves exploring the narrow streets of Pamplona and she’s known to have gotten lost in her own city. She loves reading, singing and trying out new cooking recipes, and if she’s feeling adventurous she may try to do all of these at the same time.
She loves hearing from people and you can find her at: