Frequent Flyer: Nuno Costa Santos

Name: Nuno Costa Santos
Job: Writer and scriptwriter
Born in: Lisbon, 1974
Age: 45

Our frequent flyer is the writer and scriptwriter Nuno Costa Santos, who, despite having been born in Lisbon, in 1974, lived the first years of his life in the Azores, more specifically in S. Miguel island. Today, he lives between Lisbon and the Azores. He is a writer and screenwriter, playwright, author of radio and television programmes. Humour is one of his distinctive characteristics, as shown by his work “Melancómico”. The first novel, “Céu Nublado Com Boas Abertas”, was published in 2016 and clearly reveals that we are before someone who loves the Azores. He also writes for the literary magazine Ler, signing the article “Provedor do Leitor” (or “Como fazer amigos na literatura”).

To Nuno Costa Santos, the Azores are a “love affair”. He was born in the capital of Portugal, but the land he says he loves is the one where he started to grow. He confesses that his life would have been different, if he was not a product of the infinite blue ocean. Maybe one day he will end up staying permanently in the archipelago, but always with the possibility to leave and return. In fact, this way he will always be a true frequent flyer.

In what extent being from the Azores marks your personality? Do you feel your life would have been different if you had been born somewhere else in Portugal?
The Azores mark the imaginary of anyone who grows up there. And I’m not talking only about the landscape, that transcendent ground of all the first experiences that stay with us forever. I’m not talking only about the ocean, which when it’s not close makes any Azorean become disoriented, many times not knowing why.
I’m also talking about values and character. There are differences between the islands, but there is a common identity core, the temperament. Many times, when I feel in trouble in Lisbon, I think about the blue of the high Azorean ocean and I calm down.

Is it hard being a humorist in Portugal?
I start by saying that I’m not a humorist. I use humour when I’m writing. That is different. The British have a good word to describe what I do: wit. Wit, in my way, means sprinkling the texts with short humoristic lines. If that is difficult from the point of view from who reads? I might say that I have an audience for this tone. In any event, I’m aware that in Portugal the dominant humour is the one related to politicians and power, similar to the one used by the master Gil Vicente [Portuguese playwright of the 15th century]. It is a bit tiring, that tone, even because I think we should first laugh about our fragilities before throwing sarcastic comments to others.

Best memory of a trip to the Azores?
Not easy. But I pick a recent one. The fact that, in Ilhéu das Cabras, in Terceira Island, I saw a couple of rays in an underwater experience. It calmed me down. Some years ago, I fell asleep imagining the bottom of the ocean and all of its creatures. Those rays, calm as a Bud – dhist master, calmed me down and inspired me to have similar experiences.

How often do you go to the Azores and do you usually go alone or accompanied?
Today, I live between the Azores and the mainland. During these last ten years, I have developed a series of projects in the Azores which allow me to be in the archipelago and in Lisbon. This situation should end with me settling down in the Azores, the land which I love and where I feel good. Always with the possibility to travel. Possibility and duty. I have several projects in the mainland – many of them related to documentaries – that make me go there. And, above all, I have children who live in Lisbon. I would like them to come and live in the Azores. One of them is a Santa Clara fan.

A time that it is really important or that you really like to be in the Azores?
Summer, that season when time seems to be suspended. I can elaborate on the summer pleasures: diving (I’m not a beach person) and the conversations at my parents’ house at lunch or dinner. We do some catching up, talk about politics, society and traditions, and discuss, laugh, disagree and agree. And drink a nice wine.

What do you carry in your luggage when you travel to the Azores?
I take all the necessary clothes, occasionally forget – ting something when it comes to underwear. And also books which I haven’t finished yet. And the will to step on my places, my islands and the other Azorean islands. I’m becoming more and more a “universal Azorean”. That is: S. Miguel Island is not enough for me. I feel at home in each one of the islands.

What do you carry in your luggage when you travel from the Azores?
When I travel from the Azores I always take “bolos lêvedos” and books by new Azorean authors. Both are nice and comforting when away from home.