I am excited pleased to welcome Paola Pica on the blog today as part of the Errors of Evaluation blog tour.
Welcome, Paola. Tell us a little bit about you…
I’ve always wanted to be a writer but also kept postponing the decision and putting everything that I wrote into a drawer (literally…more than one drawer) until 2004, when, due to a serious accident, I was stuck at home and would be for another three months. I realized then that I had no more excuses; I had to stop telling myself that I had no time for the demanding process of having my books published. In fact, at that point I had no work, no commitments of any sort…it was time to seize the moment. That would be MY CHANCE.
That was my start in publishing and three of my books came out all at the same time, six months after the accident and after finding someone in my job environment who really believed in my talent as a writer. It was the Ambassador of Belgium to Italy and his wife, who gave a gorgeous party for me one Summer evening at their Residence in Rome, to launch my three books. Their beautiful terrace overlooked the Foro Romano, one of the most breathtaking historical places in Rome. It seemed like a fairy tale to me . But after such a magical beginning to my career, I had to go back to reality and find out how difficult it is to be a writer in Italy…unless you have somehow succeeded in being accepted by some of the great Publishing Houses. Publishing and advertising are as necessary to emerging writers as their own talent. And here I am, being published in English, after finding a very reliable Translator and a very serious Publisher.
Your inspiration for Errors of Evaluation?
ERRORS OF EVALUATION entered my mind as a book I wanted to write, one evening at some friends’, when I met a psychoanalyst – the shrink- by whom I received the inspiration for the character of Marco. All the story came to my mind after sitting down in front of the virtual blank page, as it usually happens to me.
What is it about the Italian setting that inspires you and would you use it in the future?
I think I have written about many aspects of the Italian lifestyle. Of course, it comes more easy to me to deal with topics I’m more familiar with because they belong to the environments in which I must move, due to my life and job in particular. I might probably continue to examine and describe alternative lifestyles, which are still more or less taboo in this odd country of mine, and the respectability/hypocrisy which still is a detectable feature of our (but not only Italian) “respectable”society, that is the well-to-do.
Where and when do you write?
If by the word “write” we mean the formal setting and filling of the book page, I only write being comfortably seated in front of my PC. But I always have a small notebook or a dictaphone in my already disastrously full handbag.
Are you a planner or a pantser?
Dealing with my books, I would define myself as a last-minute-writer; because I actually “build” scenes and characters when I’m in front of the blank page, on which my planned general ideas acquire their final bodies. In life it’s all another story.
Do you do any research?
I haven’t done much research for the books that I’ve already written; apart from the small one I did when I was writing about university students in Milan in, more or less, the forties. That was part of my “A Respectable Man”, in which the respectable man in question recalls his “heroic” life at University, where he learnt anything but how to live according to a code of respectability. I wanted to be reliable about what faculties students could attend at that time. Of course, I wouldn’t call research the material that I use for my psychological descriptions of my characters’ attitudes and actions, as it comes from my current reading interests. Should I ever decide to write a historical novel, I would do careful research in that case.
Do you read inside your genre or out when writing?
I’m particularly interested in reading inside my genre, that is novels in which actions are described as a result of psychological motives, even when these don’t show at all. In fact, it would be very tiring, and probably boring for the reader, to go through a plot in which the only leading line were a cause-effect movement, more over if explained in detail. But I also enjoy reading non-fiction books, such as historical and psychological (…would you believe that?) works.
Your author heroes?
Anita Brookner and Alison Lurie for sure, among some others.
Anything else you’d like to share?
As an author, I consider myself as someone who has been writing all her life, since she was a very young girl, but without having had any particular interest in being read, until the moment of the accident which stuck me home for more than three months. That was my turning point in wanting to share my ideas with other people and ( why not?) trying to make writing a real job. I have to say that I haven’t succeeded in it, yet.
As for social media, I only took part in a literary blog some time ago; which I gave up when I realized how only profit oriented (for the blog owners, of course) it was.
As for my books, I can say that at least one character in each of them comes from my real life, like the shrink in ERRORS OF EVALUATION; or the dentist in my next book which I would really like to see published in English after this one; or Eleonora in “A Respectable Man”; or Giuliana in “The Bird of Prey”. They all embody some social problem or lifestyle I’ve come across in my life, though they are not necessarily problems for me or attitudes that I would either condemn or appreciate, but they also apply to people I happened to share moments of my life with.
Having said that, although it is true that my books come from my own direct or filtered experience, it must be clear that even the most “real” creatures of mine wouldn’t be recognizable to anybody living in their actual environments. All of them, anyway, for good or bad, should be proud for having given me food for thought.
Thank you, Paola, for joining us today.
You can follow the rest of the tour here: