The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Douglas Carlton Abrams

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (July 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416532528
ISBN-13: 978-1416532521

About the book:

In a time of discovery and decadence, when the gold that poured endlessly into the port of Sevilla devalued money, marriage, and love itself, young Juan Tenorio was abandoned and raised by nuns. He grew up loving and worshipping all women, but a clandestine affair with one of the sisters forces him to leave the Church—and his plans for the priesthood—forever. Juan becomes a spy, as well as the world’s greatest libertine. But far from the heartless seducer that legend recounts, he seeks liberation and redemption as much as personal pleasure and gratification. He begins to keep a diary of his greatest adventures and the arts of passion he has mastered. The most dangerous adventure of all—the irresistible fall into the madness of love with the only woman who could ever make him forget all others—finally compels him to confess everything.

I was fortunate enough to be able to ask Douglas some questions. Here are his responses:

What made you decide to write about Don Juan?

One night I went to bed asking myself a question that I believe every married man or woman asks eventually: how could I stay happily and passionately married for the rest of my life? The next morning I awoke as if I had been shaken. It was then that I first thought of Don Juan, the universal symbol of passion. I wondered what if he had kept a diary. What secrets would it contain? What could we learn from him about the nature of passion? And ultimately, what might cause the world’s greatest seducer to forsake all women for one woman? I left my wife’s warm sleeping body, walked past our three sleeping children, and sat down at the dining room table. It was as if a voice was whispering the story in my ear.

What kind of research was involved?

Over the course of more than four years and thirty drafts I revised The Lost Diary to try to get as close as I could to Don Juan’s world, to understand the decadence and the dangers of Golden Age Spain.As I researched, I came across a scholar from the 1800s who said Don Juan was a real man—and not just a literary character as most believe—and that he was murdered in the Convento de San Francisco. I traveled to Sevilla—the birthplace of the legend and perhaps the man—I felt like a detective exhuming clues that increasingly revealed who Don Juan really might have been and what really may have happened to him.

What was the most relevant piece of info you learned in researching?

I was surprised to find that Don Juan was not alone in his Sevilla. The world I found was an age of Don Juans, when all the gold and silver of the Americas poured into Sevilla, the city that ruled the world. But I also found a city that was emptied of men, who had left to fight in King Felipe’s endless wars and to colonize the New World. Historical census data revealed that 30% of the city’s women were widowed or abandoned and in some neighborhoods the number was as high as 50%. You can imagine that Don Juan had his work cut out for him.

What has been the most significant change in your life over the past year?

That would have to be seeing my lifelong dream of having a novel I’d written in print come to fruition and it having had the success it has had so far – from The Lost Diary of Don Juan being published in 30 languages to being it a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. I never thought I would travel to Seville, Spain to lead a group of journalists from around the world on a tour of Don Juan’s Sevilla.

What cause are you most passionate about, and why?

I don’t really have one particular cause, I am most passionate about helping make the world a wiser, healthier, and more just place to live. I have followed that passion as an editor, an agent, and a coauthor of non-fiction books and now by writing what I call “wisdom fiction.”

If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be?

I am very self-critical. Like many writers, I am my own harshest critic, and I suffer from some of the manic depression endemic to the writer's life. I'd like to change this and realize that I'm just the scribe of the stories.

What is the most daring thing you've ever done?

I’m something of a thrill seeker and adrenaline junkie, so there are many things that would qualify: rafting on the Zambezi River, flying in an ultralight aircraft, walking with the lions in Africa, swimming with humpback whales in Tonga. One of the most daring things I’ve done recently was cage diving with great white sharks off the Farallon Islands as research for my next novel.

What is one thing you know for sure?

There is no Truth with a capital “T,” but I’m interested in all the other little truths.

What annoys you most about society?

Having grown up in New York City, I witnessed many people turning away from each other, like animals confined too closely in a zoo. The fact that we forget our connections, often because of our congestion, saddens me. Also, people who think they know the Truth and knock on your door to tell you, or try to hijack elections for their ideology.

Who has influenced you throughout your career as a writer? In what way?

Among many others, one of my biggest influences was Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes, who taught my high school writing class. His sense of humor and his faith in me and all his students have been a guiding presence for my career.

What are you currently working on?

Although quite different, all of my novels will attempt to tell dramatic stories that also convey some of the ancient insights about how we can live on this planet with greater joy and wisdom. However, my next novel is a contemporary diary. It is an ecological thriller and a mythic fiction about love, a love that is even more powerful than passionate love. I began with the question: can we survive as a species, and if so, how?

What advice would you give struggling writers?

First, learn your craft well. The best thing I ever did for my writing was to read Robert McKee’s book, Story. Also, find a good agent – you can find one that suits your work at Your agent is ideally the next closest person to you after your spouse. They are guide, confidante, and taskmaster, so make sure you find the right match.

About the author:

Douglas Carlton Abrams is a former editor at the University of California Press and HarperSanFrancisco. He is the co-author of a number of books on love, sexuality, and spirituality, including books written with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar, and Taoist Master Mantak Chia. He lives in Santa Cruz, California, with his wife and three children. In his life and work, he is interested in cultivating all aspects of our humanity —body, emotions, mind, and spirit. His goal in writing fiction is to create stories that not only entertain, but also attempt to question, enchant, and transform.

Doug’s desire in writing the book was not only to resurrect this greatest of historical lovers and to give voice to his true motives; he was also moved to write a book that would explore the tension between lust and love and that would confront the human question of how any man or woman can find lifelong satisfaction in one committed relationship. To find out more about the origins of The Lost Diary and the myth of Don Juan, and to learn about forthcoming novels, please visit or

THE LOST DIARY OF DON JUAN VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR '08 will officially begin on September 2, '08 and end on September 26, '08. You can visit the Douglas' tour stops at in September to find out more about him and his new book!

As a special promotion for all our authors, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour to a published author with a recent release or a $50 Amazon gift certificate to those not published who comments on our authors' blog stops. More prizes will be announced as they become available. The winner will be announced on our main blog at on September 26!

This virtual book tour is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion and choreographed by Dorothy Thompson.