Queen of the South author Arturo Pérez-Reverte did not base his female druglord Teresa Mendoza on an actual person as many believe. Instead, the character comes from a lifetime of the writer's personal experiences.
Pérez-Reverte, an international bestselling novelist who was a war correspondent for 21 years, witnessed firsthand the ways in which women can cope in hostile territories -- and these lifelong learnings became the basis for Teresa.
USA Network interviewed Pérez-Reverte (read the full interview here) and asked him about the origins of his beloved queenpin who is now played by Brazllian actress Alice Braga for American television. Though there are many differences between the novel and the TV show, we recognize Braga's Teresa in Pérez-Reverte description:
She’s a woman in enemy territory. All women are in enemy territory for centuries, but in this case, this is particularly accentuated because the drug-dealing world is a very machista hostile environment. Here, the survival of a woman in enemy territory is even more spectacular. That’s the original challenge of the novel -- to ensure that in the machista violent world, which is the territory of men -- that in such a world where the women use the weapons of men, they use the intelligence and penetration of a woman. The challenge is for her to do more than what men do in those circumstances and for her to become the boss of men.
Pérez-Reverte went on to explain that, in his own experience, women have better endurance in situations of prolonged challenges:
Men are good for sprints. Women are good for marathons. In difficult places, at times of crisis, I’ve seen men do things which are quite powerful and quite heroic but men break down after a short distance. Out of every 10 men, eight will collapse before they reach the finish line if the effort is a prolonged one.
With women, it’s the contrary. Women bring out the best of themselves in long-lasting efforts. Their ability to resist pain, failure, and solitude is much greater than that of men.
The author also speaks about the role of luck, the pecking order in a high-stakes universe, and how he encountered Joaquim de Almeida (Epifanio) on the set of another one of his book adaptations in our exclusive interview.
The season one finale of Queen of the South airs this Thursday, Sept. 15, at 10/9c. Catch up on the last five episodes here.