Twitter turns 81-year old amateur writer in Almeria into literary success

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STORY TOLD: Emilio Ortega’s autobiography sold out in Almeria ©Manuelcarreter1/Twitter

AN 81-year old amateur writer has struck sudden success after social media boosted his struggling Spanish Civil War memoir.

Emilio Ortega, an Almeria resident, wrote his autobiography back in January. It is called El mundo visto a los ochenta (The world viewed at 80).

Ortega, a French citizen born in Algeria, said the book would be popular with sensitive people. It talks about the trials of his upbringing and his mother, who was a “truly courageous woman,” he told.

But not a single copy sold in the Almeria bookstores where it went on sale.

Ortega – who wrote the book four times because “it got deleted” – was not going to give in. He set up stall at the Almeria Book Store in early May to see if anyone there might be interested in buying it. They were not.

He did, however, hand a free copy to a young man at the fair who showed an interest.

“I never thought that our conversation would take things this far,” he said.

The young man was taken by the story and decided to post about it on Twitter, one of the world’s most popular social media sites.

One tweet led to another and within a week the struggling autobiography had sold out across Almeria.

And the Circulo Rojo publishing house has since ordered another thousand copies, a representative said.

Ortega, who was born to Spanish parents, tells of his poverty-stricken childhood in Civil War Spain in the memoir. His father was a lieutenant in the Republican Army but was killed in the Battle of the Ebro. It forced his mother into asking for money to feed her children.

The family underwent many struggles including Ortega’s mother being arrested for begging on the streets of Madrid.

They managed to return to Algeria when General Franco opened the border nine years after the end of the civil war but found it in the midst of its own independence struggle.

He later travelled to Paris where he met his wife, from Almeria and they had a child.

Ortega said he feels at home in Spain and wants to die in the Southern province.

Before hanging up the telephone in an interview with Spanish press, he said: “I don’t want to get rich off this, I am not a great writer, but I hope it will help others share their own experiences.”

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