Great interview! Thanks Sophia 🙂
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Great interview! Thanks Sophia 🙂
View original post 737 more words
One early morning, I wrote the two magical words THE END after finishing the last chapter of my novel, Dead Men Naked.
Then I learned that THE END was not there yet. Sure, the story was over, but I discovered pretty soon that something else just started: the endless quest for a definition. If you’ve written a story, a book, a poem, you know that eventually someone will ask you, What is it about? And if you’re half like me, you’ll mumble some incoherent words about all the things that your story is not, without being able to find what definition your story would actually fit.
This feeling stayed with me the entirety of my quest for an agent, and resurfaced when I had to write the blurb for my short story collection, Of Life, Death, Aliens and Zombies. Was it Fantasy? Urban Fantasy? Modern Mythology? Magical Realism? All of those tags seemed to only grasp the surface of what I wrote.
So I did the most sensible thing – I avoided labels wherever I could, which for a short story collection was easy, because Amazon has a category just for it (even though I had to pick a second category and forced myself into Science Fiction – for now). I thought, let’s leave the definition to my first readers and reviewers.
When the first reviews came in, I was incredibly happy – because they were very good, comparing my work to authors such as Vonnegut, Fante, Bukowski – but I was also lost, because those same authors struggled with finding a defining name for their genre. My own readers couldn’t define my genre.
And now that the collection has traveled a bit, and Dead Men Naked is about to be published, I face the same challenge again. What genre do I write in? Is it Speculative fiction? Transrealism? Mystical neo-renaissance? Zeitgeist-y fiction?
I know my stories are quirky. I know they’re whimsical, poetical, and yes, philosophical in nature. I know there is a fairy-tale like air to them, if fairy tales were written for adults. I know they exist because I had something to say, a story to follow and share. So I hope you’ll forgive my lack of a definition – and hope you’ll enjoy them nevertheless.
My friend, poet exquisite Mr. Kevin Bateman, has a knack for gathering together great minds in spiritual places all around my favourite island.
This time, Kevin organised a great event called “Live Inside our Dream” at the Blackrock Castle and observatory, in Cork City, Ireland, and I’ve had the honour of being one of the participants, together with great writers and poets like (in order of appearance) John Mee, John W. Sexton, Danielle McLaughlin, Marie Gethins, and Kevin Doyle.
I’ve read “The Name of the Rose” upon request of our good Kevin (starting at 16:30 in the video) but my suggestion is, if you have 40 minutes to spare, watch the full event, because in this time and age, having so many great writers all together reading their work is a pearl to be cherished.
Enjoy and happy Sunday!
Just. Finish. Things.
One of my favourite authors once said:
I’m not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth.
- Cormac McCarthy
Of course I read this quote exactly when I was writing short stories again. At that particular point, he almost convinced me that my stories shouldn’t see the light of day, and should stay in my digital drawer forever.
But then I realised something. Cormac McCarthy, for how amazing he might be, said what he said because he didn’t feel he was good enough to write short stories. He did write two shorts indeed, Wake for Susan and A Drowning incident, while he was still in College. And if you read them, while you’ll see the genius lying behind the phrases, you wouldn’t recognise Cormac.
That’s because short stories are hard. And actually, a good short story is harder than a full novel. Yes, in a novel you need to be careful with timing, consistency, and keep the reader entertained until the end. But the power of a longer work resides in the fact that, if you played your cards correctly, the reader will want to know how it ends, because (s)he’s invested a good amount of time in the characters already.
In a short story, you need to pack a story, a meaning, sympathetic characters, antagonists – all in a short space. Short stories are the chocolate pralines of baking – you see those little things and think they’re awesome, and you can eat a whole bunch of them, but you never stop to think how much time a single one took to make.
That’s when it hit me. Instead of sending the short stories out and get them published on Literary Magazines, I should organise them in a collection; much alike chocolate pralines, a single one might not placate the hunger, but a box of them might work just fine.
So here it is, my box of chocolates for you. Someone said about chocolate boxes, You never know what you’re gonna get, but that’s part of the beauty; you will find some of them incredibly tasty (Bathroom Love) and would wonder why you don’t have more of it, while some other might be less punchy but leave a lingering aftertaste (The Announcement). And at the end, there’s also a bigger slice of cake (Impurita’), for the reader who will find himself or herself hungry after all that amuse-bouche.
I started writing when I was very young. My first tale, The Mystery of the Mysterious Mystery Woman, started when I was seven, was also the first story to end up in the metaphorical drawer – believe it or not, a seven-year-old doesn’t have the time and focus to finish a full story.
Years later, I realized that this is a recurring topic for many writers and aspiring writers. I finally comprehended the old saying that goes ideas are sold a dozen a dime. Everyone and his neighbor has a novel in progress in their head. The hard part is to sit down and write. And if in my youth years I had the time and will to write late at night – because my only concern was school – evenings don’t work in my adulthood. When I did try to write at night, I ended up drinking too much whiskey, something that gives you the confidence to write more but hinders your ability to actually write good things. And most of the time, my daily job takes up all of my mental energy, if not all of my physical one. And weekends are for family and friends, right?
So when I started my first novel, Dead Men Naked (which is going to be out soon – stay tuned!), I actually wrote the first chapter at night. Noticing that the idea was going somewhere, I tried multiple more nights, or weekends, to develop and finish it. Without surprise, that was a struggle, for the reasons I’ve expressed before. And that was the make it or break it moment, the moment that defined my adult self as a writer, because writing wasn’t a hobby or an egotistic idea; it was a necessity, and I needed to find a way to make it work.
And yes, I found my method by copying other great authors. I started to wake up really early in the morning, around 5am, brew a cup of coffee, meditate for fifteen minutes, and then just sit down and write, until my wife would wake up at seven and we would have breakfast together.
This method was a revelation; every morning I would be at my peak condition, physically and mentally, and were able to dedicate that time to my writing. If the first half of Dead Men Naked took six months, the second half plus editing took only two. I finally found my holy grail, and got healthier in the process (to meditate every day is the key to mental happiness).
So now, every time I have an idea ripe for consumption, I will go back to this routine of early mornings, coffee, meditation, and writing. This is my secret to writing regularly, and you can see the results starting with my collection of short stories, Of Life, Death, Aliens and Zombies, and very soon, with my full novel – follow me on twitter or facebook to stay tuned!
Another super review! 🙂
Misnomer on purpose, this amazing debut rocks nine short and amusing stories – a Zombie Apocalypse without zombies; the Vatican announcing contact with Aliens; a heroin junkie that loves poetry; a timeless love, and much more.
Ordinary characters facing extraordinary situations, dry humor, philosophical musing dressed as whimsical, offhand commentary, and a fairy-tale like writing; those are the key elements of the style of this funny and thought-provoking collection.
The collection comprehends three previously published stories (“The Galway Review”, “Trigger Warning”, “Two Thousand Words” and “Chantwood Magazine”); five new unpublished pieces; and for the first time in English, the best-selling story “Impurità”, which was Selected Work in 2012 by Apple iBooks.
First thing’s first, if you open this book expecting a book written in the vein of Dawn of the Dead, that’s not what you get. What you do get, however, is a collection of stories that deal…
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