Author Interview Number Forty-Six – Adriano Bulla

Welcome to Adriano Bulla.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I published my first book back in 2005, a collection of poetry, Ybo’ and Other Lies, which has been re-published recently. I never really thought I would write a novel, but it so happened that I did, so, The Road to London came along. I find it hard to define The Road to London in terms of genre, if anything, I find the very idea of genre rather restrictive: she (yes, she is a  lady) is partly romance, partly fiction, partly a coming-of-age novel, partly a supernatural novel, partly psychological partly erotic. When I say supernatural, I do not mean there are werewolves or vampires, she is about the supernatural that is in every one of us.

Where do you find inspiration? I would not say that I ‘find’ inspiration; I’d rather say that inspiration finds me. I am not one of those writers on the lookout for something to trigger my ‘creative juices’, on the contrary. I may sound deranged, but I fully believe that the Muses exist, and they float amongst us waiting for the right time to strike us: I do not feel I have any control on the birth of a novel or a poem; I feel the words coming to me and, yes, using my experience as a person, as a reader and as a writer to work for them and put them down in writing, but I am not part of the ‘decision process’. I believe the Muse chooses whom she thinks is most suitable for what she needs and then, if I have been picked, there is a strange, compelling feeling that I have to write. I do not know what exactly I am writing until it has come to life; I do not set out to plan and devise characters and plot, nor do I say to myself, ‘I shall be writing a novel about…’ None of this. I regard myself not as a writer, but as a ‘scribe’.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? If I had to choose one, it would have to be the one readers call ‘the Boy’ in The Road to London: he is the protagonist, and has no name. Why? To start with, the whole story is his story, and he is a very troubled boy indeed: most of the story is about him fighting against himself and the world. I think it’s hard in life to come to terms with who you really are, especially if you are regarded as ‘different’ whatever that means: adolescence in particular is such a troubled time in life! It becomes worse if you don’t fit in, you start wondering what is wrong with you, you fall into self-denial, and that is a downward spiral that can have very sad consequences, and leave scars that are not easy to heal, or maybe will never heal. I think many of us have pretended to be what others wanted us to be, well, imagine if the whole world as you know it didn’t want you to be who you really are. In the case of the Boy, he starts lying, first to others, then to himself; he then finds an alternative to his life in his dreams, then in drugs… I have been asked if the Boy is based upon myself, and the answer is easy: no, and yes. I think he is based on everyone who has found that there is no place for him/her in the world s/he lives in, and I simply happen to be one of them. Being an outsider, even in your closest circle of friends is not a nice position to be in. Yet, thinking back, maybe everybody is an outsider.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? No, I don’t dislike any characters; none of the characters are perfect, some can be quite cruel, including My Dear, the Boy’s great love (who may exist, or simply be in the Boy’s mind), but I could not dislike a character. On the contrary, having characters whom we don’t understand straight away puts us in the position of trying to understand them. Oddly enough, even if the story is mainly narrated from the point of view of the Boy, his story should not be seen as a judgement on how cruel the other characters have been to him, even those who bully him and beat him up, but an example of how people do things, sometimes things that are wrong, because they do not understand you. There is certainly something amiss in the world, but we cannot blame this on others. And I am guilty of it myself.

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? No, I haven’t, but if I can twist your question, one of the sweetest characters in The Road to London does die, not because I killed him off, as, not at all, I said, I have little authority on what goes on in my novel. Actually, I cried when he died. But his death brings life. I think it’s sort of easy to ‘kill off’ characters because they are inconvenient or because one does not like them. It’s much harder to see a dear character, in this case maybe the only one with no faults, die, and die in a very tragic way. I won’t say his name, of course. What I can say is that this character is very close to who I, as a person, would like to be.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? Not much. I mean I do have a rather extensive vocabulary, so, I don’t need to look words up. Having said this, I have looked up names of particular shades of colours: colours are very important in The Road to London, they have symbolic meanings and in a recent article on the novel in Lit Art Magazine it is suggested that you can read the novel like watching the process of painting a white canvas and adding more and more colours, in the same way as we add traits to our personality as we grow up. In fact, she starts colourless and ends with an explosion of colours. So, because each chapter focuses on a few (usually two) colours, I wanted to be as detailed as possible. My favourite source? The Insomniac’s Dictionary.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book? Of course there is. I am not going to say what the message is, that would defeat the object, and readers have been discussing it at length, but there is – actually, there are messages, I would venture to say quite deep messages in The Road to London. Whether we choose to write or are coerced, as in my case, books need to have a message: it’s an imperative for me. I would feel I am a cheat if I just wrote to narrate an interesting story, at least this is where I stand. The whole purpose of writing a novel is to share something we feel strongly about, the entertainment, the pleasure etc come as a means to an end, I would disagree with Wilde on this, and I think, in practice, Wilde disagreed with himself (there is a very deep message in The Picture of Dorian Gray for example). It is mainly presenting the messages as a journey of self-discovery on behalf of the reader that requires artistry and even, I would say, a delicate touch, but the messages must be there at the very beginning and heart of the writing to make it meaningful.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) I think the most important one is mastery of writing techniques, I would not say perfection, as I believe perfection does not exist, but being technically equipped to create an effect is necessary to create a good character and to present a plot in an interesting way; without the first, the other two simply cannot be. Between character and plot, for me, it is the depth of the characters that matters most, though I do understand that some novels are plot-driven. I actually, however, believe the whole of Western Literature has made a massive mistake in taking Aristotle’s (misinterpreted) claim about the ‘supremacy of the plot’ in his Poetics as a mantra: the human soul is much, much more interesting than the accidents that Fate may throw our way, in the end, it is not the accidents themselves that make us humans, but our reactions to them.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? It depends on the book, but The Road to London is available in paperback and kindle/ebook. I am not part of the decision-making process when it comes to the format, that is up to the publishers (all three of them), but I would like to see her as audio and large print one day, who knows.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? No, I don’t self-edit; I actually write in pen (rigorously fountain-pen) and then pass my writing on to be typed. Of course, books that do not go through a professional proof-reader may have glitches, mainly typos. I think it depends on the frequency of the typos; I have found typos in novels by Dickens, published by extremely big companies, so, a few will always slip, but when they become annoying, then, well, it’s another matter. There is, however, a point to consider concerning the current situation of the publishing industry: I have read triumphant articles that the number of books sold has been soaring in the last couple of years. What these articles do not keep in mind is that most of the sales are now in kindle, and that the pie is shared by many more books, thus, even traditionally published books cannot always afford to be checked by a professional proof-reader very often.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? I don’t think authors should be commenting on reviews of their own books. A review is an opinion, in the end, and once a book is published, by definition, it ‘belongs’ to the public. I suppose some reviews can literally hurt, in other cases, the author may disagree with what the reviewer says, but I believe a writer should step aside from adding interpretations to one’s own book. In the end, you can’t please everybody, and I’m sure readers know that. In my experience, I have found that readers have found angles from which to read The Road to London that I had not considered myself. I read the reviews and I am very often taken by how readers have put their own personal experiences in reading her. And who am I to say they are right or wrong? I must also say that I don’t go much by the ‘star grading system’, what matters is how different perspectives come into the reading of a book.

What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? I have nothing against it. As I said, a review is an opinion, so, why shouldn’t writers have an opinion? The point is that when a writer reviews a book s/he does it as a reader: it is not an ultimate verdict on the book, nor should it be read as such. As to the idea that writers may be partial, I must say that there is such thing as an honest review: what I look in a review is not, in fact, how much the reviewer has enjoyed it, and in fact, when I read reviews that simply say, ‘I loved this book,’ in as many words as possible, my reaction is to say, ‘Good for you.’ What I am looking for is information on the book, different perspectives: the better the book the more freedom it will leave to readers to read it from different angles, that is, unless it is the instructions on how to assemble a flat-pack airing cupboard, in which case it would be a disaster, so, if I see readers/ reviewers have different perspectives on the meaning of the book, you can bet that I will feel I want to join in and see what this book has to offer to me, or if I have something to offer to the book. If I see that all reviews say the same thing, then, I’m sorry, but I am no longer interested in mono-dimensional experiences.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I have just finished Matryoshka by Doris Dawn and I really loved it: it is a very, very weird novel, and I love books that dare to be different, especially in conformist world such as ours. It’s a cross-over among a Platonic dialogue, a confessional novel and erotica and it mixes Physics, Mythology, Philosophy of Science and sexually, with good peppery sex in it. The take on Doris’s (here the protagonist) on sexual arousal coming from listening and talking to an intelligent person reminds me of how I am quite similar to that, and how sensuality is not in a set of muscles purchased from a gym and whatever shops sell estrogens to cover up whatever lack of confidence hides beneath it, but from someone’s personality. Very often, lack of confidence is much more sexy than confidence, at least in my opinion.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Author’s page:

Book’s Webpage:

Book’s Webpage with excerpt:

Book links (1 link- it redirects readers to their Amazon website according to their country)

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