‘Farewell, wherever you fare.’ ~J.R.R. Tolkien
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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?
I don’t have an answer to that. I’ve been writing since I could. Words can be magic if combined in the right way.
A few months back at my parents’ house, I found stories I wrote when I was a teen. They’re garbage, of course, but the desire to put down words has always been there. I could say that I write because I must and when I don’t, I feel sick. I write for myself stories that I would like to read.
Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?
Indeed. When I was a kid, I used to read sci-fi books in Italian. I don’t recall the authors or the books though. I suppose the first one to influence me was Marion Zimmer Bradley with her Darkover saga, for the science fiction part. Then, when I started reading in English, I discovered Asimov, Clarke, Adams, and others. Yet, don’t expect to read hard sci-fi. Too much technobabble bores me, and for this reason, I limit it as much as I can in my stories. Also, I’m not a scientist and I prefer to write something scientifically inaccurate.
Tell me about your book / series.
Some people say to never trust a spy.
The Parallels is the first installment of The Sehnsucht Series. The keyword here is Sehnsucht, a German word for “The inconsolable longing in the human heart for we know not what” to quote C.S. Lewis; a yearning for a far, familiar, non-earthly land one can identify as one’s home. It’s the longing for something or someone unattainable, Utopian, that possibly doesn’t exist. All my characters, mostly aliens, suffer from this ‘syndrome’ in a way or another.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Book two, three, and four of The Sehsnsucht Series are all in first draft stage. They all require heavy editing and a great deal of rewriting. Last year, I wrote some short stories that I intend to publish in an anthology introducing the readers to my world. Right now, my critique group is reading them and one by one I’m sending them to beta readers. It’s going to take a while before they’ll be out.
What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?
Books are a free-speech medium. They shouldn’t be banned even if they offend a group of people. Whether that group is big or small doesn’t matter. We live in a world that has become too sensitive. I’m not afraid to use words to tell stories. No one should. Besides, I come from a country where education is free for everyone. Mind that in this context, free means affordable for everyone. No one needs to get loans to have a college degree here. Culture should be available for everyone at a fair and affordable price.
Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?
Halazar is an alien female and a soldier. She has lived all her life in times of war and always fought for her people. She deeply believes in duty and justice and will have to choose between them.
Indie, or traditionally published – and why?
I’m independent. Mostly, because I write for myself, I write what I would like to read. I don’t want to be told what to write and how. I don’t want others to be responsible for the marketing choices for my stories. Just this month, I received two offers from two minor publishing houses without prompting them. I refused. I’m not saying I’d say no to a good deal. I’m just saying I don’t want to waste time waiting for it. If someone likes my work, it’s out there. They can reach out for me. In the meantime, I’ll be my own employer.
It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?
Absolutely. How can anyone write without reading?
Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.
The answer to this question changes in time. A couple of years ago it would have been different from now and in a couple of years, it may change again. Right now, my worst enemy is marketing. I’m still trying to figure it out.
Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?
Probably more a plotter than a panster. There have been times when I sat and wrote a scene I hadn’t planned just because it came out of my head that way. I wrote Lanees’s final chapter in The Parallels like this. It wasn’t planned at all. I was watching the news, something grim I still remember vividly, and boom. I imagined the final scene in all its details, and the next day I wrote it. Of course, I edited it a few times before it reached its final shape.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
If we’re talking about Easter Eggs, they’re filled with it. If we’re talking about details only a few people will notice, I hope not.
Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.
Reading, travelling, gardening, meeting new people, and drawing. I’m not really talented with that, but I drew all the symbols in my Series. I also drew my characters and then sent those drawings to my cover artist who used them to create The Parallels’ stunning cover you can see.
What are you writing at the moment?
Book two of The Sehnsucht Series. It begins where the first one ended and introduces some new characters. The main character changes too. This time it’s going to be a Manderian male.
What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?
Some indie books are badly edited, and their covers scream amateur all over the place. The cover is the first step into marketing because it’s the first thing the reader will see. The second is the blurb, and the third is the content of the book, if they ever get to that point. Authors shouldn’t publish a novel until it has been edited unless they’re really good at self-editing. I know some of them. I also know editors are expensive if they’re good, but we need them. I must say, and this pleases me deeply, that the majority of the indie books I read do not have this problem, and I’ve read a great deal of indie books in the last two years.
What is your favourite genre to write, and why?
Sci-fi and that’s what I write. Like I said before, I grew reading this genre and I’ve always been fascinated by space. I can cry if I spot the ISS passing over my head and I get all emotional when I recognise a planet in our night sky. If I win the lottery, I’m gonna buy an expansive telescope.
If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?
As a human, I wouldn’t want to live in Manderian space. Manderians, the alien species featuring in The Sehnsucht Series, don’t fancy Terrans. They tend to be xenophobic, some more some less. They’re also at war against Earth—or Terra Prime as they call it—and the other planets allied with Earth.
If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?
Confront yourself with other authors, let them read your story and listen to their advice. And most of all, hire an editor. A developmental one can be helpful to make you understand where you’re going and where you can’t go. Those can be very expensive, but they can light up your path. Read a lot and practice. Write, write, write. Do it every day, every moment that you can.
Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?
Sometimes I do. When writing, I prefer classical music, especially Ludovico Einaudi. When I’m self-editing the first draft I prefer silence. When working on the editor’s suggestions anything will do. Pop, rock, usually something from the ‘80s or ‘90s. I don’t listen to a great deal of contemporary music.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I learnt many things while creating my stories and I think the most important one is that we aren’t alone. I found a great number of people willing to help and I also helped many more. I don’t do it with the expectation they will do something for me. One can learn a great deal even from others’ mistakes. Cooperation with other authors in my same shoes encouraged me to do better. It still does.
Tell me three unique things about you.
- I’m Italian but I write in English.
- I’m not a chocolate fan.
- I can dream entire scenes of my stories.
Keyla, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!