New suspense series featuring female spy Bianca Nerini
By mcalvani on October 27, 2013
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.”
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.