Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Angelina Brasacchio, author of Tales from the Italian South – a collection of short stories which have just been published in English for the first time thanks to Aspal Prime.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I was born and raised in Strongoli, a small town in the province of Crotone, in Calabria, near the Ionian coast. I graduated from “La Sapienza” University in Rome. I have taught in high schools for many years.
I am part of that generation of protagonists who rebuilt Italy and Democracy after World War II. I participated in the movements of the 70s and 80s and also in those for women’s emancipation.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
When did you take a step to start writing?
In 2003 I started writing the first drafts of short stories and novels.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
I have to explain that, although my first book – ‘Volevano cambiare il mondo’ (They wanted to change the world) – is short, it took me three years to get it published. I had no experience of the publishing industry and it took me a while to find the best publisher.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
The time needed to write it and complete it (including the “labor limae”) was relatively short. This is also due to the fact that when I start writing the content of the book it is already in my mind. So it took me about a year. With regard to publication, I waited almost another year because of the timing of the publisher.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Tales From The Italian South?
They are Tales that draw inspiration from facts and events that really happened and to which, with a certain storytelling ability, I try to give literary dignity. The motivation that pushed me to narrate those stories was the need to document the environment, the lifestyle, the atmospheres and the historical context of the period in which the events took place. In this way I hope to prevent the oldest from forgetting, and to let the youngest know.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Tales From The Italian South?
The biggest challenge was to overcome my fear that the remote events of a small village in Southern Italy might not interest anyone; but I kept writing it because I enjoyed it. Then happily readers demonstrated both satisfaction and enthusiasm.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonists?
Since these tales are short stories, the protagonists are many and they really existed. I simply extracted them from my memory, from the collective memory of the community in which I live and from the memories of those I met in the places I have visited.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonists?
The antagonist appears and stands alone for three out of the eight stories: it is the war and its legacies. It is the antagonist of inhuman force that causes emigration-immigration from various parts of the world and within Italy itself. Then there is the violence against women that steals a girl from her friends. It contrasts with the strength of indignation and revolt against abuses, metaphorically represented by the ants who manage to put a cow to flight.
Did you plot Tales From The Italian South in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I always think in advance about the plots of my stories.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Tales From The Italian South need?
I did a rigorous editing myself, but in the end I asked another trusted and competent person to read it again for typos.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
I would suggest that they persist, refuse to be discouraged and, above all, not to write thinking that their potential readers must like them. Otherwise they might write distorted and weak books.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
More short stories are almost ready, they only need editing. I am also working on a novel that is already under way.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Yes, I am very proud and it was certainly worth it.
Follow author Angelina Brasacchio
Tales from the Italian South was published on 4th October 2021 by Aspal Prime (paperback, £9.99) and is available through the publisher, bookshops and internet booksellers. Aspal Prime is an imprint of Aspal press. Discover more wonderful European novels now available in English on the Aspal website: www.aspalpress.uk