Paul Bradley, 68, who has lived in Nerja since 1992, was taking a stroll through the town when he saw an old friend sitting at the well-known Kronox cafe near the Balcón de Europa. He stopped to have a coffee with his fellow Englishman and this chance meeting led to Bradley's first ever novel.
The year was 2012 and the pair were sitting opposite the Biznaga cafe, which four years earlier, in 2008, had been the scene of one of Nerja's most horrific crimes; the murder of Cecilia Natalia Coria Olivares, a 25-year-old Argentinean who was working as a waitress there.
A chance meeting
As the Brits talked, they both stopped and reflected on the murder, which had attracted international media attention at the time.
Drew Launay, a name that many will associate with books including the Xenophobe's guides - a series of satirical guidebooks about different nationalities and their stereotypes - admitted to Paul that he was “bored” of trying to write his own autobiography and wanted a new project to work on. Many of the fiction books he had written previously were psychic thrillers.
Paul had written articles in the past, but was a budding fiction writer who says he had “always been good at writing, even at school”.
The two of them came up with the plan to write a book based on the events leading up to Cecilia's tragic death, which involved a jilted lover, who had became obsessed and controlling, eventually ending her life by stabbing her 15 times as she arrived for work at the Nerja café on the morning of 28 September 2008.
Paul explains that the original idea became “extremely complex” and took the two writers “down avenues we didn't want to go down, having to involve lawyers and researching methods used by stalkers”. He admits that their original idea was becoming “too sinister” and was moving them away from a novel into writing a text book on stalking.
Sadly, in May 2013, just a few months after the pair initially embarked on their joint book, Drew passed away. Paul explains that the death of his friend “took the wind out of my sails while”.
A few months later Paul made a promise to himself to continue with a book, both in memory of Drew and Cecilia. He says that he never knew Cecilia personally, but had friends who knew the waitress quite well and had been worried for her safety because of her involvement with the man who would go on to kill her. “People knew he was bad news and that things wouldn't end well,” Paul recalls melancholically.
After two redrafts of his book, Paul finally published Darkness in Malaga in January this year.
While the book is fairly far removed from Cecilia's story, Paul explains that there are “a lot of themes that are important in Malaga, such as immigration, particularly from north Africa”.
Darkness in Malaga is the first of a series of Andalusian mystery books which Paul is working on and others explore the world of bullfighting and environmental problems such as the water shortages facing the province.
“One of the jobs I do is to escort American university students on trips to Spain, so I have become well-acquainted with Juan Ramón Romero, a bullfighter based in Ronda, who is a descendant of Pedro Romero,” says Paul to explain how he got the idea to write about the subject.
The protagonist of this first book is an English woman, Juliet Harding, who disappears during Nerja's San Isidro festival. The book weaves in the big issues of immigration and tourism on the Costa del Sol, which touch on the original inspiration for the novel: the murder of Cecilia, an immigrant from Nerja's Argentinean twin town, San Juan; her death at the hands of her Moroccan former boyfriend; and the popular tourist destination of the Balcón de Europa in Nerja.
Paul lives in Nerja with his wife Renate, who is originally from Germany. The couple met while living in the area and have been married for 20 years. The author has learned to speak German and says that it is the predominant language spoken at home. He also speaks Spanish.