04 May 2014

Adriano Bulla: The Road To London

2 Comments Book Reviews

Through a Goodreads Discussion Group I came across “The Road To London” by Adriano Bulla, which was Book of the Month.  The book was up against a traditionally published and commercially successful book but to my surprise I clearly preferred “The Road to London.” 
It is a very artistic account of a personal journey, from youth to growing up, from Italy to London, from in the closet  to being ” out”, from group member to individual. 18990618

Told in an episodic narrative the book also includes poems, music lyrics and letters. 


A light… A birth… A journey… An escape-not just from the whispering noise of expectations but from the growing awareness of a different life, a different path, a different quest. The greatest love letters are written in prose but bring forth the poet’s heart, awakening in the receiver an equal passion-or so the writer hopes. This love letter tells the story of how I reach London, how I reach you, My Dear, how I come to love so deeply, so truly and completely. The journey was not easy, beloved. I faced many ugly trials on this narrow path-but also tests that were… Fun, naughty, spicy and the stuff of memories which will make me smile into my old age, whether you are with me or not. I have no regrets, My Dear, except one… Just one…

I fed off the athmosphere and the compelling tone of the writer and am glad to present him today in an interview.

ME
Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

As a writer, I love experimenting: I could never stick to a format, a style or a structure. I have to try something new every time I write. I also have big issues with the whole idea of ‘genre’… I don’t have any problems mixing different genres, even mixing prose and poetry, I don’t want to be constrained by predetermined rules, and I hope I never will. As a person… That’s harder to say. I am actually a joker. I know people who know me as a writer think I’m dead serious, but the reality is that I can turn anything into a joke, in particular into innuendos. I can’t help it.

Tell us about your writing history. When was the first time you decided to write and when was the first time you did?

I started writing poetry as an adolescent; I guess I did it in order to create a world I alone could understand. Like most teenagers, I was, and in many ways still am, afflicted by angst, and like most teenagers I had no one to talk to about the deep uncertainties that were troubling me: confusion about my own identity as a person, especially because I was leading the life of a bohemian young man outwardly, yet, deep inside,  I felt totally insecure about who I was, both in terms of my intellectual identity, fought if you wish between James Joyce and Pink Floyd, and, of course, my sexuality, as I never fully identified with a typical gay man, but never really felt I was straight either. I was a boy suspended between contradictory realities and without the courage to come clean about either of these worlds, so, I created my own world, an almost impenetrable world of words.

Tell us about your book and how it came about.

I had never thought I would be writing a novel until she (The Road to London is a ‘she’) came to me unexpectedly, like most beautiful things, while dancing in a gay night club in London. The words just started coming to me, and they did so for a couple of months, every Friday night, and I simply wrote them down when I got home on a Saturday (or Sunday). The whole novel was born in club, apart from the last chapter, which I wrote on a sunny day sitting on a bench in the Rookery, a park in South London near where I live. The difference between The Road to London and my poems is that the novel is open to the reader: although she is in both prose and poetry, I think she is accessible. My poems were written as a way of hiding from the world, The Road to London was written as a way of talking to the world.

When did you decide to publish your story?

The Road to London was first meant to be published in 2008, I had a publisher, but the recession hit and they folded. Then I left her in a drawer for years, till I hit rock bottom: in 20013, I found myself in a state of total and utter depression, I had lost all confidence in myself, and was about to do something very silly. But then, the very first words of the novel came back to me, ‘Yes, I will, yes. I will save the world, the universe and you.’ I myself had never fully understood what they meant. I’d never worked out who ‘you’ was. In a way, I am sure that ‘you’ is my best friend, Stephane, to whom the novel is dedicated, but I also think that ‘you’ can be me… What I mean is that the novel gave me a reason to live, to pick myself up and show to myself that I was not worthless, that there was still something I had to do in this world, that I still had words I wanted to share with other people. So, I looked for another publisher; I must say that I was lucky, as it did not take long before I received offers, and ended up choosing Glastonbury Publishing / Mirador because they ‘gave me good vibes.’

Did anyone influence you / encourage you to become a writer?

Lots of my Italian friends have always believed that I was ‘wasted’ as a teacher and should become a full-time writer, and I have kept them waiting for years and years. One in particular, Daniele, has been nagging me to publish for a long time now, but I am at heart a very shy person, and because The Road to London does have some autobiographical elements (though it is by no means my autobiography, as some people seem to believe), I hesitated for a long time. On the other hand, I don’t think I could write about something in any credible way if I had not lived it myself, so, for example, even if the story of the Boy in the novel is not my own, lots of his dreams are actually ones I have had.

Would you say there is a message in your books beyond the story? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers? Are you happy with the reception so far?

Yes,  there is a message beyond the story: The Road to London is a cry for freedom, the freedom to be whoever you want to be, the protagonist, whom readers simply call the Boy, grows up un a very homophobic environment; he is not a perfect person, not at all, in fact, in his early life, he is himself a bully, and, having enjoyed the approval and respect of his friends as a leader in his small ‘gang’, he finds it hard to admit to himself that there are areas of his personality, in particular his sexuality, which do not conform to expectations. In a world where boys are meant to be dominant and masculine, his gay and fetishist/ submissive sexuality is something he cannot admit to himself. Thus, he finds himself divided between his thirst for social acceptance and his need to be himself. This is possibly why he starts lying not just to his friends and family, but to himself, then seeks shelter in his dreams, by which I don’t mean his ambitions, but the dreams he has at night, yet, the days remain grey and offer no space where he can express himself, so, he starts taking drugs and drinking excessively, and hallucinations start replacing reality. His romantic life takes place partly in impossible love stories with his mainly straight friends, and in part in mysterious letters he writes to his great love, called My Dear, maybe an ‘imaginary lover’ he meets in a gay club in London.

I am impressed with the way the novel has been received by reviewers and critics so far: although different readers seem to have read the novel in totally different ways, but this is one of the peculiarities of The Road to London, that she is not a story that’s ‘written in stone’, and she allows, actually she asks, readers to contribute to her meaning, to add their own stories and perceptions of the world to hers, the reviews have been incredibly enthusiastic. I’m not just happy with how the novel has been received so far; I’m ecstatic.

Who would you hope plays them in a movie version? download (4)

The name that comes to mind is Xavier Dolan: he likes to explore impossible relationships and has a very artistic flair in his films; I think he would be ideal for The Road to London.

Did you have it all planned out before you write your stories or do the characters and story surprise you?

No, I never plan what I am going to write. I don’t even decide if I want to write… I could never be a poet laureate. I find it impossible to predetermine what a book is going to be about, what will happen to a character, how they will speak, behave or react to an event. When I start writing, it’s because I feel an urge to write that I cannot resist, and I haven’t got the foggiest idea how the story is going to turn out, what will happen next and how the characters will fare in it. All I do is put emotions and feelings into words; if an event is necessary to create a feeling, then that will take place in the story, otherwise not. I am much more concerned with human beings’ reactions to events, meaning their emotional and psychological reactions, than with the events themselves.

What would your character(s) say about you?

I think each one of them would find something in common with me. Even those who seem evil at times would say that the origin of all that evil is in me, not in them.

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing?

Words have their colours, their rhythm, their sounds, their smell, and their flavours for me. When I write, it’s as if I am totally engrossed in an explosion of senses: they mix, they match, they literally dance and sweat in front of me. I love that. I see myself more as a ‘facilitator of words’ than a writer: I see my task as putting them down on paper the way they wish to be. I find that beautiful. I like to be part of this process of finding new ways of expression, rather than forcing words to be written down the way I want them. It is the words that tell me what to do, not I who tells them where to take their place on the page. My least favourite thing must be a consequence of the way I write: I never know if I will be writing again; as I don’t force myself to write and I don’t plan what and when I am going to write next, I never know if will write a new novel, a new story or a new poem.

Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it?

Yes, I did have a say in the cover art: I chose seven possible options and then discussed them with my publishers. I actually love the cover of The Road to London: to start with, and this has happened purely by chance, but I believe in Fate, all the covers of my creative writings have a bold head / face that resembles mine. I like to think that the face crossed by the stars and the clouds on the cover of The Road to London is just the face of the human soul in general lost in the cosmos. It could as well be the Boy’s face, or Seb White’s (a key character in the novel), looking down on us from the stars, but I don’t know. I know it is not the typical cover you would expect in what is regarded as a ‘gay novel’: we didn’t want two hunky men in an erotic position; the novel is very sensual and very much about sexuality and even sex, but she is much more about how the individual can find his (or her) way in life, against all odds, against the ‘thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to’. I also feel that those green eyes looking out of the cover see a whole world in front of them, the whole path to freedom, the future, the road to London, in fact.

What is your writing environment like? Do you need silence or music to write?

I write wherever words happen to come to me. I cannot distinguish between silence and music when I read or write, because I confuse signs, colours and sounds: I’m synaesthetic, you see, so, if you say a word, I see flashes of colours in front of my eyes, if I write a word, I hear music, sometimes I even see shapes moving in front of me. It’s a funny condition, but I quite enjoy it.

How many rewrites does it normally take you for each book?

I write once, and I do not type: I write with a fountain pen on paper. If I change something, I tend to do it straight away as I am writing, I don’t go back to it and re-read it and maybe cut and paste or change sentences like people can do if they use a word processor.

What is your advice to new writers?

Write from the heart. Hide part of yourself in every one of your characters. Even if it’s a trait of your personality you do not like.

Who are your favourite authors?

There are so many… Woolf, Emily Bronte, Joyce, Milton and Dante very likely top my list of favourites, but I could go on for hours and hours. I tend to read the classics, all of them, and I find it hard to put them down. My favourite living novelist is Toni Morrison: she’s a genius and my favourite living poet is Derek Walcott.

What is your life like outside of writing?

I love History and I love Art. I used to go clubbing a lot, but now I’ve calmed down a bit… maybe it’s time to for me to go out a bit more.

What makes you laugh?

Satire, especially political satire and innuendos (I think I said that). I like puns and verbal humour more than slapstick.

Who would you like to invite for dinner?

Plato, for sure. If it’s true that the whole of human knowledge is only a footnote to Plato, I have so many questions to ask him. I would also like to invite Leonardo Da Vinci, I can literally burst into tears in front of his paintings.

What would your friends say are your best and your oddest quality? What would you name as those qualities?

Oddly enough, I don’t think my friends really know me that well: I’m sure they would all say that my best quality is my intelligence, and that would also be my oddest quality for them. Instead, I would think that my best quality is my heart, not my mind, and I would think my oddest quality is that if I give my word, I stick to it, no matter what.

Tell us about your other books?

Tales is a collection of short stories based on ‘minor’ characters or events in The Road to London, my favourite story in there is ‘The Housekeeper’s Innocence’, the story of a woman who gets raped when leaving mass, then decides to become a nun, but a sister shows her that she is a lesbian, so, she becomes a priest’s housekeeper instead, but when she sees the man who raped her in the congregation, she burns the church down. It’s based on one of the dreams of the Boy in the novel, a Kafkian dream. Ybo’ and Other Lies is a collection of poetry that I first published in 2005, it is quite experimental, there is a lot online about it, including articles on its erotic poems and on the ‘flickers’ a form of poetry I have allegedly invented. I have also written a grammar book, The Labyrinth of Grammar and a study on Dante and Coleridge, The Mariner’s Inferno.

What song would you pick to go with your book?

The ‘soundtrack’ of the novel is mainly provided by Pink Floyd, though there is a reference to ‘Live to Tell’ by Madonna, and other songs, however, the one I would choose to capture the feel of the heart of the novel, which is also quoted, is ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ by Jaques Brel.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

The weird thing very few people know about is that the first English Dictionary was written in Streatham, South London, where I live. A nice thing about Streatham is that is a very safe place and it has a real mix of people, and a fact… It’s still affordable to live here despite being a stone throw away from Central London.

Find Adriano and his books on
Twitter: @Bulla_Adriano
Bio
Born in Milan, Italy, and Londoner by adoption, Adriano Bulla has been publishing since 2005, when his first collection of poetry hit the shelves. Over the years, he has always tried unconventional and experimental ways of expressing himself, often crossing genres and refusing stereotypes in content, style and form. His style has often been praised for being intense, dense and surreal, and his themes have become more and more conscious of social inequality, in particular when concerning homophobia and the LGBT community, yet always exploring the emotional and spiritual dimension of the individual in search for freedom in an oppressive society.

 SYNOPSIS

When time and place play tricks with your birth, what can you do apart from creating your own imaginary world, then run away from your own creation, to a new life?

A boy is born, some time in the recent past, in Milan, Italy, yet backwards when concerned with ‘different’ sexualities, and Fate wants this boy not only to be of an intellectually and socially dominant nature, but of a sexually and emotionally gay and submissive disposition.

Unable to explain himself to himself, unable to relate to the world, this soul creates his own world, through dreams, drugs, alcohol and lies, while from a distant place, a club in London, and maybe from his future, if he ever learns to fly, letters to his beloved My Dear look back at his life in Italy with parallels in a romance yet to be.

He tries to be ‘normal’ and have relationships with girls, he tries to be honest, and open himself up to his love and friend, but life has decided only pain, rejection and suffering should come of it, for the time being at least.

But little glimpses into another, maybe possible life, sparkle here and there through his life, his dreams and into his heart….

07 Apr 2014

Author Interview: Crime fiction writer Stefania Mattana

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“Into the Killer Sphere (Chase Williams detective stories #1)” by Stefania Mattana is a very enjoyable and well written thriller set in a atmospheric medieval-looking city in contemporary Italy. 18640159
Chase Williams from the UK is called upon to assist his friend Inspector Angelo Alunni in a case that seems like an accident but highly likely isn’t.
Together the pair combine forensic and personal intelligence to get to the bottom of the case.
The investigation is one wonderful and charming journey through Italian idiosyncrasies with amazing colourful characters.
The plot is cleverly woven and told with attention to detail. 
This is a great crime story with a beautiful setting, entertaining but sophisticated enough to distinguish itself from mere beach reads – although it would certainly work as such, too.
Highly recommended. chase_avatar

“Cutting Right to the Chase” by Stefania Mattana is a selection of several very short crime stories, all rather unusual and very entertaining. With powers of oberservation, wit and some with great humour they describe odd cases and mysteries solved by former British detective Chase Williams, who now lives and works in Italy.
The stories are anecdotal in nature, clever, well told and very worth while reading. 
Great entertainment.

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Interview with Stefania:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and as person.

I am probably one of the very few people in the world who has a nickname with first and last name, Erania Pinnera. My sister’s fault!

I’m turning thirty and I’m happy about it. Some people are afraid of leaving their twenties, I am not! My main passions are reading and running. I’ve been both running and reading since I was six, I guess it’s not a coincidence. I’m a mens sana in corpore sano kind of girl.

If I have to quote a weakness of me I would probably go with the perfectionism mania. Perfection should be a tool to reach a moving target, not an achievement. Sometimes I forget it and I get fussy.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I should say my main character, former MET detective Chase Williams, but I will say his friend, Inspector Angelo Alunni. Angelo is Italian, few years older than Chase, single by force of circumstances and with the odd idea that he can attract more girls with a Montalbano-style shaved head.

Angelo is the most lively and irascible side of the partners in crime (Chase always helps Angelo solve murders or mysteries) and I like depicting him as a genuine Italian prototype. And trust me, Italians pull through extremely well.

What would your characters say about you?

They’d probably say that I let them do whatever they want too often! Sometimes it’s like I lose the control of my characters and I end up writing things that subvert my plot – I guess you can understand me, dear Chris.

Maybe my characters would like more discipline from me, but I don’t change this balance until readers keep appreciating my stories and I receive an official complaint by my characters themselves!

What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing?

I like creating way outs for murderers and triggering reasons that lead normal persons to kill somebody else. This is my most enjoyable point, the way Chase and Angelo will find the truth is pure deduction practice. I like also putting little clues for my readers to help them find the murderers before Chase. I don’t want readers to think they are “inferior” to Chase or Angelo. The perfect murder doesn’t exist and anyone could find the truth, it’s just a matter of method.

Maybe the least part is – paradoxically – reviewing the drafts. Every time I read something I wrote, I see there’s something that needs to be changed, or modified, or that can be improved. No matter if it’s published or not – there’s always a way to write it, show it, tell it better. I mean, that’s good, but sometimes I realise I’m getting too fussy again!

What is your life like outside of writing?

I like running outside, especially on track. I love the smell of the track and the noise of the spikes on it. When I was in Italy I enjoyed long walks with my sister and our dog, I really miss them. Oh, I love dogs, any kind of dogs. If it was for me I’d have a hundred dogs in my home. My partner and I go out quite often in London, discovering the city and enjoying all its wonderful attractions. We are also planning some interesting travels abroad, armed with cameras, good walking shoes and – guess what? – a couple of Kindles in our bags 😉

Hot or cold? Hot!

Salty or sweet? Definitely salty.

What are you working on now? 

Pull the Trigger, the first Chase Williams long length novel, is on the fly. It will be out approximately at the beginning of the summer, ready for the beach!

I’m also defining the plot of the next new novel along with two new books for the Cutting Right to the Chase series, as readers really liked both the Volume 1 and the Volume 2. For many reasons I don’t think I’m going to replicate the novella experiment, although Into the Killer Sphere is receiving lots of positive feedbacks, but never say never!

Stefania Mattana is a crime fiction author whose stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications, websites and anthologies. Her first self-published short stories collection Cutting Right To The Chase, featuring the former Met Police Detective Chase Williams, was released in June 2013 to great acclaim. She also blogs for Huffington Post UK, her own DailyPinner and other webzines.

Book links:

CUTTING RIGHT TO THE CHASE VOL.1

CUTTING RIGHT TO THE CHASE VOL.2

INTO THE KILLER SPHERE

PULL THE TRIGGER

 

Mailing list: free preview of Cutting Right to the Chase vol.2 for the subscribers.

 

Author website

Facebook

Twitter

Twitter Chase

05 Aug 2013

Malla Duncan: Fat Chance

4 Comments Book Reviews

 fat-chance2“Fat Chance” by Malla Duncan was recommended to me by a friend. Not usually a friend of humorous crime fiction I reluctantly followed her recommendation and was pleasantly surprised to find a book that made me laugh a lot.
We are in Italy and are following the investigation of a serial murder of fat women. Besides the police detectives there are a group of colourful fat women doing their own snooping amongst the suspects
The sense of humour really worked for me, I thought those characters were brilliantly chosen and the solving of the murder was cleverer than I had anticipated.
This is a great beach read, highly amusing.

“This delightful, witty story moves at a spirited pace, with Malla Duncan’s talent for description transporting the reader not only to the warmth and beauty of the Amalfi Coast, but into the middle of a great mystery.”

“I absolutely adore this book! It’s witty, intelligent, humorous (I laughed out loud often), suspenseful, has twists and turns, is set in Italy (who doesn’t love the Amalfi Coast?), and is without a doubt well-written. The details, the setting, the characters, the story – all  fantastic.”

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What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?

 

Writing began for me at the age of seven when I wrote a poem because it popped into my head. Once I had discovered the joy of creativity and power words can give you, I was hooked. I wrote screeds of poetry after that – inspired oddly enough by the great war poets of the 1st World War – Sassoon, Brooke, Owen. I eventually wrote my first short story at the age of seventeen and achieved publication in a local magazine when I was nineteen.

 

I think one desires to become a writer rather than decides. They say writing is a drive that shows itself at a very young age. Often it’s a hankering for something you’re not quite sure of – then gradually this feeling hones to a compulsion that sees you spending chunks of time by yourself with the people in your head. You don’t always see an end – you just want to conquer the characters – to bring them out whole and vibrant on paper in a way that makes them seem real and memorable.

 

How did you come up with the idea for Fat Chance?

 

Fat Chance grew out of desperation. I had written children’s books, horror, women’s thrillers – and struggled for years with agents and rejection. Finally I thought I was writing the wrong thing. I needed to try a new genre. Friends told me: ‘Write something funny. You can do funny.’ So I chewed that over. Then I thought that people also like recipe books. Imagine combining funny and food! What a combination! (Been done before, I know, but I was overwhelmed by the magnificence of my idea.)

 

Then I expanded possibility by adding murder as a factor – this book was going to spoof all those formulaic thriller novels out there. Yes! Once I got to this point I knew I would combine murder and recipes. Couldn’t be better. Then Marsha pushed into view: one of those rather overpowering characters who nurse all sorts of secret doubts about themselves. When Milly joined her, equally large but rather timid, I knew I had a novel.

 

I lined up a recipe designer and we were off! Except the designer was never able to get around to those puddings – so the recipe part was ditched and ‘Fat Chance’ was born as a comedy murder mystery laced through with the universally identifiable problems of food and fatness.

 

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

 

Characters are like babies – once you’ve brought them out they’re pretty much with you for the rest of your life. I’ve always believed that your characters shouldn’t be anything like you as the author – they should be entirely different. The writer is simply the vehicle through which people and situations are brought to the reader’s attention.

 

If I had to choose a favourite character from one of my books, I would choose Ilsa Joubert from ‘Deep As Bone’ – my first psychological thriller. Ilsa is a dark little number, somewhat sly and underhand, a plotter and manipulator who doesn’t really let you know much about her – it’s only looking back over the book that the pieces fit together. And yet the great thing about Ilsa is that you can’t help liking her. I liked her in the beginning when she seemed good, then I liked her when she got bad, and when she got really, really bad – liked her even more. I’m probably as puzzled by this as the reader.

 

Tell us about your other books.

 

‘Deep As Bone’ was my first adult book of any substance that I actually completed. A London agent loved it but was unable to sell it. Many new writers don’t realize that just cracking an agent is not the end of the story – the agent then has to sell your book to a publisher and goes through all the difficulties that a writer experiences in trying to attract an agent in the first instance. Most publishers are wary of unknown names and wary of books that are too ‘unique’ – books that don’t have what they consider follow-up value. Many publishers will say that they want ‘something different’ but not so different that the writer cannot write at least six others in the same in look, feel and tone.

 

‘Dark Sanctuary’ became my next offering but was – as everybody had feared – completely different in feel and tone. I deliberately cut the writing to short and snappy, a modern thriller tone because I thought that way I would be more engaging and acceptable – but I was still unsuccessful because by the time I had finished with the rewrites the agent requested, I had a different book altogether – and nobody was happy.

 

‘Catchee Monkey’ was my third offering – an ambitious book that wanted to capture a sense of neurosis in the main character, a touch of paranoia which would add beautifully to the mystery: is she right about her husband trying to kill her – or is she just plain nuts? But now the agent didn’t like the characters – who granted were somewhat dark and irritable, but to my mind very much reflections of real life. So at this point agent and author parted ways, a tad distressed.

 

Since then, I have gone on to write humorous books for African children – the Miki series. There are few books out there for African children at affordable prices. I also began a fantasy series for children The Shadow Garden series and Book I is on all sites as ‘The Vampire Castle’. I also wrote in 2012 what I consider my last thriller offering: ‘One Night’ written exactly the way I wanted to do it and a book that I was happy to publish straight to the Net.

 

How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?

 

Self-publishing has been an exhilarating experience. I absolutely loved it – loved being able to write without interference, enjoyed the learning curve on formatting, thoroughly adored deciding on my own covers. That said, for any kind of success you have work at marketing continually – otherwise your book is going to hang like a lightless star in cyber space. It’s all about keeping traction on social media – and of course, writing the right kind of material that is popular on the Net. I would never advise people not to self-publish – it’s one of the great joys afforded to writers – but be prepared for disappointment. Not many people make money with ebooks. Those that do are lucky. I don’t think there’s a secret magic formula – but what I do know is that any clever person who comes up with a way for self-published writers to connect more successfully with readers, should be dipped in gold.

 

What is your advice to new writers?

 

If I had to mention all the things I’ve learnt over many years of writing, I’d fill a book! So I’ll just offer a couple of pointers on key aspects I’ve struggled to master:

 

1) Your point of beginning is key. Where in the story will you begin? How much back story are you leaving yourself to write? How will you get that across without spending pages talking about the past? Really good writers always have an intriguing beginning. They also manage to lay scene and character and back story neatly in about three pages or less. Or they cleverly interlace the back elements into the current text. This was for me, the most difficult part of novel writing to get to grips with. Often I would be at chapter four and suddenly realize that the beginning was entirely wrong and needed to be redone from a different point in time or point of view. It’s nothing to panic about – but as you gain experience and confidence, you will develop a ‘nose’ for this and it will get easier. Eventually, I found the prologue structure extremely helpful in laying out a snippet of back story that would ‘lead’ the rest of the book without cumbersome explanations.

 

2) Your reader is not stupid. Readers pick up the elements of the story, scene and tone very quickly – so don’t tell them the same thing twice. Every page should introduce new information that takes the story forward. That goes for dialogue as well. There is nothing worse than pedestrian conversation – kills a novel stone dead. Everything your characters say must be relevant to the story. If you don’t keep tight control here, your characters can wander off into idle talk and it’s really difficult to bring them back. Don’t waste space on the page. Add behaviour and description into conversation – this develops characters as they speak – ie: He wasn’t smiling but there was a cheeky glint in his eye.

 

3) Writing is always about the re-writing. Get to like editing because initially it’s going to be about two thirds of your work.

 

How do you handle criticism of your work?

 

Fortunately, most of the feedback I’ve had so far on my writing has been positive. But there’s hardly a writer out there that doesn’t get the nasty little one star from time to time. I got a one star on one of my books because it wasn’t for free! So no matter what you do there’s always someone who might not like your story or your style – or who, for that matter, may just want to hurt you because you have written something really good.

 

As a copywriter, I learnt to take criticism in my stride otherwise I couldn’t have done my job. But criticism is also good. If I do feel a reader has a point, or enough readers come back with the same complaint, I will always look at my work again and try to rectify the problem. All writers should only have one aim – and that is to continually improve. Readers who take the time to connect can be very helpful. I for one, am very grateful to those who take the time to give feedback.

 

What are you working on now?

 

Several things fill my head at any one time. At the moment I’m considering Book II of The Shadow Garden series as Book I ‘The Vampire Castle’ is selling so well. I’m also in the middle of a paranormal murder mystery that I might continue soon. And of course, I’m looking at a sequel to ‘Fat Chance’.

 

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.

 

I can tell you that in one statement: Table Mountain. I live in its shadow. The weird thing is that I never get used to it. I look at it in wonder every day. It has been an inspiration to much of my writing in all sorts of ways: moody under cloud it’s good for mystery; draped in misty wraiths it’s good for dark fantasy; and clear-cut against the sunset just makes the imagination soar!

 

 

About this author

Malla Duncan lives in Cape Town and writes across a range of genres from women’s thrillers ‘women-in-jeopardy’ to children’s fantasy, romantic adventure and humor for African children. Her thrillers focus on ordinary, flawed women in extraordinary circumstances. Fast-paced for intrigue and tension, her novels are geared for readers who enjoy mystery and suspense.

You can find Malla at Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/vi… 
You can join Malla on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Malla-D…
Follow on Twitter: @MallaDuncan
Find on Amazon: http://tiny.cc/tshiyw

http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Chance-ebook/dp/B0080R8ISG/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375024398&sr=1-3

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Fat-Chance-ebook/dp/B0080R8ISG/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1375024427&sr=1-2

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4955686.Malla_Duncan

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13595927-fat-chance

 

 

 

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