Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Author Interview: Tullio Pontecorvo

Hello all, and welcome to this month's author interview! Today, I'm excited to host Tullio Pontecorvo! He believes the greatest virtue of speculative fiction is the Socratic exercise. Suppose blank: what are your choices, and your beliefs? A good speculative story can tell you more about yourself as a reader than about the author who crafted it, because it doesn’t beat you on the head with a stick. It confronts you with a complex situation akin to those we face in every day real life. And that’s what Tullio's writing is all about.

Tabitha: Hey, Tullio, thanks for being here! To start us off, what are you currently working on?

Tullio: Hello Tabitha! Thanks for starting this with a bang. My main WIP is a sci fi novel set in an alternate present. This present is the result of WW2 ending on white peace that allowed all major combatants to survive, and led to a fractured, multipolar international order. Throw in an alien invasion that is not really what it seems, and a wide cast of characters of different ideologies that need to learn how to work together in order to uncover mysteries far bigger than humanity, and you've pretty much got my vision on paper. I'm nearing first draft completion. If you want to wish me luck, I'm going to need it.

Tabitha: Nice! And, good luck! What made you decide this was the story you want to tell?

Tullio: Well, I discovered it more than decided it, because I'm a pantser at heart. I write into the dark. Now having said that... stories are just models of our reality. They may be less refined than the ones built by scientific endeavors, philosophical analyses and so on, but they retain great power. They've been with us since night fire gatherings and remain with us because they have the power to convey and explain reality in scale, in bites that we can consume. Of course, you lose accuracy with every model, and that's why they're stories. I suppose I wanted to paint a world where the only alternative to learning to coexist with people you despise is failure and death; how that leads to the famous "human heart in conflict with itself"; and how complex the narrative becomes when the geopolitical and personal elements intersect.

Tabitha: Stories as models sounds very compelling, but how does that tie in to your personal experiences?

Tullio: That's the gist of it, isn't it? I do believe that as a writer, you codify your experiences into your own words. Art, politics, love, any place you might have seen or person chance met, every nightmare that woke you up at night... when I sit at the keyboard, it all bleeds on the page. Writing, really, is a way of talking: you're imposing form upon the chaos of your thoughts, moulding them into something that you can communicate. This isn't about creating an approximate model of reality, but making other people understand how you feel. And, perhaps, share the feelings with you!

Tabitha: Were there any individual works that helped influence all of this vision along the way?

Tullio: This might sound funny, but most of the other inspirations belong to the visual arts. Some of them are movies like von Trier's Europa, Alien, or Blade Runner. There are several videogames in there too: Mass Effect obviously, but also the Talos Principle, XCOM, Deus Ex... too many to count.

Tabitha: Yesssss. I always love talking to other Mass Effect fans. Videogames are very valid inspirations, in my opinion. To close us out, do you have any advice for readers who are starting out their writing journey?

Tullio: One lesson I learned earlier on: Do not fret over what story might sell, at least not at the beginning. Making a work commercial is nothing to be frowned upon - I do it myself - but it's one thing to have a keen eye for the market, and another to turn writing into a chore. That's not going to win you anything. All the rules you learn, especially when you join critique groups, are there to steer you in the right direction, not to become religious prescriptions, and a good writer also learns with experience when to break them and how. Just write the story you're burning to write, the story you fell in love with. Then you go back and diagnose it with whatever analytical tool you think works best for your work.

Tabitha: Insightful advice, Tullio! Thanks again for your time, and best of luck with your writing!

Readers! To find out more about Tullio, you can check out his blog and his facebook page! You can also jump on over to Earth Island Journal to read an article he wrote under a pen name.

Tullio Pontecorvo is an aspiring science fiction author. He studies political science and international relations, and is currently working on a near-future sci-fi novel that explores the relationship between the individual and the ideological in a complex geopolitical environment. He’s also a freelance journalist.

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