New suspense series featuring female spy Bianca Nerini

4 years ago

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Gabriel Valjan’s short stories and some of his poetry continue to appear in literary journals and online magazines. Ronan Bennett short-listed Gabriel for the 2010 Fish Prize. Gabriel won first prize in ZOUCH Magazine’s inaugural Lit Bits Contest. Winter Goose Publishing publishes his Roma Series: Roma, Underground(February 2012), Wasp’s Nest (November 2012) and Threading the Needle (October 2013). Gabriel lives in New England. Visit hiswebsite.

About Threading the Needle

Milan. Bianca’s curiosity gets a young university student murdered, but not before he gives her a file that details a secret weapon under development with defense contractor Adastra. Guilt may drive her to find justice for the slain Charlie Brooks, but she is warned by the mysterious Loki to stay away from this case that runs deep with conspiracy. Bianca must find a way to uncover government secrets and corporate alliances without returning Italy to one of its darkest hours, the decades of daily terrorism known as the “Years of Lead.”

Purchase the book on Amazon / B&N

Thanks for this interview, Gabriel, and welcome to Blogger News. Are you a disciplined writer?

Yes. A sports coach I knew tacked up a sign in the gym that said, “Hard work always beats talent that doesn’t work hard.” I believe in that maxim.  I’ll be honest: I’ve met many people who want to be writers, say that they are writers, but when you press further you discover that they have poor work habits. Of course, I’ve met writers with monstrous egos, too; but the simple fact of the matter is writing takes time, effort, and commitment. It is a craft and requires constant attention, continuous improvement, honesty and self-assessment. I consider myself above-average in intelligence, but where I do well is that I am consistent and disciplined. I do not fear the desk or the white page or blank computer screen.  I don’t make excuses. I trust myself and know something will come. Each day and with each effort I find the pages accumulate. I don’t have dry spells. Decades of reading have enabled me to reference authors and stories as mentors and models. If I want a desired “effect,” I know where to look, read it, and then decide how I will do it differently. I feed my imagination with books and films. There is the “active work” of physically writing and there is the “active recovery” where I’ll sit and observe others, how they talk and act. Whether I am out and about in the world or within a book, I am also trying to learn how language is used. Intellectual curiosity is a virtue.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along? 

Yes to the former. It borders on obsessive once I start a novel. Once I have the first scene in my head it is off to the keyboard. The Roma Series characters are real entities inside my imagination. I hear them talking. I know exactly what they’ll say, how they’ll say it and the body language they’ll use. I like to think that once you know the cast, if you were to pick a random page and read dialog, you would know the speaker. I may do light copy-editing, but I save all the hard work of structural and line-editing and rewrites until later. Get the story down and plow forward. As I write, the story unfolds and reveals itself and my mind is such that its organizational schema is both architectural and symphonic.

From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?

Again, discipline plays a major role from inception to completion of a working draft. I consulted my notes. I began Threading the Needle on January 20, 2012 and completed it February 13, 2012. The novel is shy of 90,000 words. The math works out to 25 days of writing, on average of 3,600 words per day and, with standard formatting of one-inch margins all around, double-spaced with Times New Roman 12-point font, that is approximately 250 words per page, about 14 pages a day. While this is all matter-of-fact computation, the reality is that some days I wrote more and other days, less. The point is I sat down every day and I wrote, committed to the story inside my head. Pure persistence. The hard work of editing and revising came later.

Did your book require a lot of research? 

I always do a great amount of research, but I hope that what I decide to include is articulate and not beyond the grasp of the reader, or so implausible that it is science fiction. I research technology online and in technical libraries. I should also mention that another form of research necessary to the Roma Series is cultural in nature. Two of my friends act as my editors. Dean proofreads all my work; and Claudio does the ‘cultural editing.’ Both men are far more knowledgeable in Italian than I. Claudio is a native speaker, a linguist, a journalist and a professional translator, with northern and southern Italian culture in his veins. While I can read Italian with respectable facility, only the native speaker can give you the authentic turns of phrase and nuances. This ‘cultural editing’ was crucial to Threading the Needle, since it deals with a volatile part of recent Italian history, with an unfortunate American connection.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

Milan. Bianca’s curiosity gets a young university student murdered, but not before he gives her a file that details a secret weapon under development with defense contractor Adastra. Guilt may drive her to find justice for the slain Charlie Brooks, but she is warned by the mysterious Loki to stay away from this case that runs deep with conspiracy. Bianca must find a way to uncover government secrets and corporate alliances without returning Italy to one of its darkest hours, the decades of daily terrorism known as the “Years of Lead.”

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

As a child I read voraciously, so I was quite awed, quite intimidated, by the great talents on the bookshelves at my local library. I began with a lot of self-doubt about my ability to sustain an idea, create multidimensional characters, and capture the tics of dialogue. I knew what I enjoyed in literature, understood to some degree how it all worked. I was convinced (still am) that nobody could teach the idea that starts a short story, a novel, or a poem. When I had set aside the initial excuses and insecurities, I discovered that I was having fun and that I had stories within me.

Do you have another book in the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

I’m trying to find a publisher for a three-volume noir series that I have written. It has two main characters, an American and a British woman, who are part of the American intelligence community. The novel starts in Vienna and continues in McCarthy-era Los Angeles and New York, highlighting the time, the mores, and the dark rivalry between the CIA and FBI. The titles are The Good ManThe Naming Game, and Diminished Fifth.

I’ve just finished a first draft of what I hope to be a family saga novel called Harlot’s Curse. The story is about two men, one rich and the other, poor but ambitious. The storyline also chronicles American history from 1850 to the early Twenties. These two men create an empire, deal with rivals, and have their personal differences. As the timeline advances, one of the conflicts becomes the issue of succession. Like the Roma Series, I have another headstrong, independent woman with her own ideas about business. She is an accomplished artist, but asserts herself to help her father save their fortune from ruin. A few of my short stories are coming out and I am at work with my editor on editing a translation, French to English, that I did last year.

Mayra Calvani

www.MayraCalvani.com 

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