Featured Author: Grazia Gironella
Q: In one sentence, tell me something that describes you as a person?
A: I would define myself as an ever evolving human being.
Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?
A: So far, I have written two essays on writing, both published by traditional publishers for the Italian market, and seven novels, one of which – Searching for Goran (Cercando Goran in its Italian version) I self-published in December 2017. The Italian version of the book had formerly been published by a traditional publisher, but I realized it was stagnating and decided to give it a better chance to reach the readers. That’s why I also had it translated by Juliet Bates, an English native speaker and professional translator.
Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?
A: I need a good title to start working seriously on my novels, a title that inspires me, and usually sticks to the story and becomes the final one. To create it I use the brainstorming method: I jot down dozens of titles just as they come to my mind, without judging them, until one or two of them start winking to me; then I make my choice. Sometimes the right title arrives unexpectedly, and I simply pick it up and say thanks to whomever sent it to me.
Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?
A: My special love goes to Nicky, the little girl in Searching for Goran. Even in the turmoil of her life, she still has a warm heart. Her strength and resiliency keep inspiring me.
Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?
A: This is a difficult question. I think I would call my genre “deep-and-beyond”: deep in one’s soul (the characters’, the readers’ and mine), beyond the materialistic worldview we are educated to.
Q: Without quoting your back cover synopsis, tell me about the last book you published.
A: Searching for Goran is the story of a man struck by amnesia after a car accident, who has to face a double threat to his mental balance: the difficulties in coping with relationships and activities that no longer have meaning to him and the new visions that haunt him, emerging from what appears to be another place and time and – above all – another man. We might say that Goran has to face the impossible to win back his life. The journey through Europe becomes a journey through himself and his forgotten past, in the company of expected and unexpected friends… and enemies.
Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.
A: I see myself as a normal person with intense feelings and passions. I’m fond of Nature in all its forms, and love practicing yoga and taiji. Reading is, and has always been, a very important part of my life. I’m interested in eastern cultures and spirituality, but there are no limits to my desire to explore new topics. And I love my wonderful family, of course: my husband, my son and my dog Maya.
Q: Who is your favorite Author?
A: J. R. R. Tolkien is more than an author to me. I’ve grown up with The Lord of the Rings, and though I understand he can be boring sometimes, I simply love his vision of life.
Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)
A: Dragonfly in Amber, the second book of the Outlander saga. Anything that has to do with Scotland grabs my attention!
Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?
A: I don’t start writing until I have a clear idea of what I’m going to tell, which on one hand requires a lot of preparatory work, on the other hand allows me to write more lightheartedly later, without fearing to end up in some narrative cul-de-sac. Many details will be changed on the way, but I find the support of planning very useful.
Q: Why do you write?
A: I suppose I need words to understand reality and to feel connected to people around me. Sometimes I also write on my journal, when I need to vent, but otherwise writing is like building bridges to me: between me and the characters, between the characters and the reader, and between me and the reader as a result.
Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?
A: I read my work a lot – maybe 7-8 times or more – only in the revision phase. When I happen to read something I’ve written after a few years or so, my reaction is always the same: “Did I really write this? Where the heck did this stuff come from?”. Writing is a mysterious process.
Q: What is your favorite type of music? Is there one genre (or song, band etc...) that brings out your creativeness more than others?
A: I used to have favorite types of music when I was younger and music always accompanied my daily life. Now I am an erratic (though voracious) listener, and I may become instantly fond of any type of music, depending on my mood: soundtracks, celtic music, nightcore, rap, rock, music for meditation. These sudden flare-ups usually last a few days. I never write with music on, though. I need silence to keep tuned in to the story’s atmosphere, and no music could perfectly match the scene I’m writing.
Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the synopsis that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?
A: I usually use a very short blurb for the back covers of my books. It comes quite easy to me, since I always find a couple of sentences capable of arousing the reader’s curiosity. What I find terribly hard is the kind of synopsis that will be sent to publishers along with the book proposal. Telling the plot in a couple of pages without giving it the feel of an instruction manual is a real challenge!
Q: If you could sit down and have a coffee (or whatever beverage) with anyone, living or dead, from any era, any time, who would it be and why? (You can pick up to 3 persons).
A: Coffee is okay! I would choose as my coffee-mates J. R. R. Tolkien, Brandon Sanderson and Ursula Le Guin.
Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?
A: Love writing in itself, and stay joyful in the face of the few copies sold and the rejections by publishers. Writing in a professional manner is a tough, energy-draining and time-consuming job, so it’s quite natural to expect some material success in return; but results – if they come – often fall short of expectations. If ever there is something I perceive as a threat to my writing, this is ambition.
Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?
A: I’ll do my best to cultivate the spiritual awakening that started with writing. I’d like to be able to say “I never traded my soul’s discoveries for something of lesser value”.
Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?
A: To my fans: thank you, I love you! To future authors: enjoy writing, and… good luck!