I always wanted to be a storyteller; I loved to entertain my schoolmates with stories of my own or recount plots of books I had recently read. When I had to decide which discipline to choose at college, my family pointed out how difficult it would be to become a professional writer and support myself with the corresponding meager income. So, since being independent financially was important to me, I chose a scientific direction and soon entered the emerging field of computers; being one of the first in this discipline opened a lot of doors, giving me the possibility to teach and conduct research in an academic environment. This experience was priceless and gave me a lot of satisfaction and recognition. However…stories never ceased to bubble up in my head. Should I go back to my first passion? I decided to try my luck, took several online courses on fiction writing and dove into the field with the enthusiasm of a novice.
There were difficulties to overcome—and not of minor magnitude. First, English was not my mother language; second, scientific writing requires conciseness; one should express concepts and describe results with the least amount of words. While hiring a good editor could help in the first issue, the second was a difficulty I had to struggle with and still do after having written ten novels. I tend to focus on the essential and bank on the reader to fill in the obvious.
Enough about me…I come now to an issue that can interest readers: where do I get the inspiration for a story? Sometimes it comes from what happened in my life, sometimes from a striking event reported in the news, other times from an old story I heard from friends or relatives.
My first novel, Mountains of Dawn, for instance, got the starting point from my childhood, when my house was destroyed and my family had to move to an unfriendly place. The Jungfrau Watch dealt with the subject of terrorism when in the ’70s a group called The Red Brigades stormed all over Italy, kidnapping rich folks and shooting at everybody who stood in their way. The Blackpox Threat is a spy story where a beautiful young woman, intent to enjoy life in the peaceful surrounding of London Ontario, is drawn into an international intrigue. Fleeting Visions—a tale centered on underage prostitution—had two elements of inspiration: some information my husband and I collected when we travelled south and the Minh Dang’s story as reported by NBC.
Lemoncella Cocktail was inspired by a tale I heard in the older days; a young man who, as a teenager had killed his father in the attempt to protect his mother, had risked his life to save a drowning girl; in his story there was drama, and it could serve as the dynamite stick to ignite the readers’ attention. Once chosen the starting point, I had to build the character of the protagonist—but this has to wait for another blog…