Dan: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Irene: When I was at Primary School (that here in Italy is called Scuola Elementare) our teacher gave us an assignment: write about your ideal job. I thought about it for a while then I started writing about writing.
I wrote about making notes, recording my ideas with one of that old tape recorders and typing furiously on a black typewriter. When I realized that I was describing Jessica Fletcher from “Murder, She wrote”, I started worrying a bit but the idea of writing had entered my head and from then on I never stopped. When I was 9 I wrote a screenplay about dinosaurs because my best friend was in a Jurassic-Park-period. At 12 I wrote a detective story with a friend, each of us wrote a chapter and then passed on the story to the other; in the end we didn’t manage to discover who the murderer was. At 14 I began keeping a journal that became the novel of my life.
Dan: You’ve written stories in both English and Italian and even have alternate versions of your blog in each language. What are some of the struggles of writing in English as compared to Italian?
Irene: English has single words with multiple meanings, while Italian has a lot of words more or less with the same meaning and the different shades of meaning are difficult to convey in English. But for a stranger the real nightmare are phrasal verbs. There is a high risk of getting lost between get out, get in, get through, give in, give up… I would appreciate a map!
I usually write blog posts directly in English and then translate them in Italian. Although fictions require a degree of knowledge of the language that I don’t have yet, so I write in Italian first and then translate in English.
Dan: You have a short story titled “A Jane Austen Christmas: The Perfect Present”. How has Jane Austen’s work impacted your own writing style?
Irene: Jane Austen had a huge impact on my writing and on my life too. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite novel of all time and I probably wouldn’t be such a bookworm if it hadn’t been for this incredible author. Someone can argue that Jane Austen’s novel are just stories about well bred girls in search of a husband, but there’s much more depth in these novels. There are a lot of different levels and I always try to put some of this in my writing.
Jane Austen is also my role model for dialogues. She rarely describes a character and let his or her features to transpire from his or her speeches. I wouldn’t dare to imitate her style, but her work is a great source of inspiration.
Dan: A lot of your work is in the short story format. What about short stories draws you to them?
Irene: Short stories are challenging, because you have to create characters, picture a world and outline the plot in a few pages. It’s not easy to persuade the reader to feel for your characters in such a short time and it’s a good way to exercise expressive skills that are not so essential in longer fictions.
At present I am working on a novel I started during NaNoWriMo and I try to apply to it what I learnt writing short stories.
Dan: How/if at all has being a Chemist played a role in your writing? Has it impacted how you view the world around you?
Irene: This is an interesting question! Hmm… a few years ago, while I was at University, I happened to read something I wrote during High School and I found that studying chemistry was depriving me of “literary” side. I wasn’t able anymore to quote classics and such things, however I also found that science changed my worldview. It became much more analytic and far less romantic!
Chemistry taught me that everything is connected at molecular level, that we are not so different from stone or water and that only a delicate balance make us what we are. And this is fascinating!
Dan: Any writing related projects that you’re currently working on?
Irene: As I said, I am working on what started as my NaNoWriMo project and became a novel: Secrets of an handbag. I’m currently re-writing it for the second time and I hope to be able to share some excerpts on my blog soon.
My other project is a novel set in a Medieval-sort-of world. It’s a story that has been dangling in my mind for a long time but I never wrote it because I feared it was too ambitious. At present it is at the planning stage, but a great part of the plot is already clear in my mind. I just hope that, once on paper, my characters won’t decide to do things their own way!
And then I have a notebook full of new ideas that only await to be put down on paper!