Pietro Grossi had a busy August. Publication of his award-winning (and very enjoyable) short story collection, Fists, was followed by a visit to the Edinburgh book festival and a global blog tour, which has ended, of all places, in Scotland, on Lizzy’s Literary Life.
LS: How did you become part of the 2009 Programme?
PG: I really have no idea. You should probably ask Pushkin Press. From what I understand, the Festival received the book and luckily enjoyed it, so decided to squeeze me in.
LS: If you’re part of a double-bill, what do you think of the book you’re paired with? Is there an obvious connection?
PG: There is definitely quite a strong connection, with Simon van Booy’s Love Begins in Winter. In the first instance, they are both two short story collections. The style of the two books, even if very different in content, is quite simple and evocative.
LS: How did you prepare for the EIBF event? Have you obsessed about your ticket sales?
PG: No, I was absolutely not obsessed with ticket sales. The excuse to fly to Edinburgh and be part of a beautiful book festival was more than enough.
LS: It’s the morning of your event – what happened beforehand? Are there any rituals to be followed before you step on the stage?
There are no particular rituals, but every time I have to get in front of an audience I experience the same sequence of emotions. More or less half-an-hour before the meeting, my heart starts beating faster and I would like to be alone and not speak to anybody; then once I sit on the chair, in front of the people, everything calms down and, miraculously, my thoughts become pretty clear. Once the meeting is finished the anxiety and clarity are replaced by a general numbness. Some times, a couple of hours later, I also become very nervous and irritable but this usually happens only after very big events.
LS: How did the event go?
PG: It is very difficult to judge from the stage, you should ask the audience. The only thing I can say is that I had fun and enjoyed it a lot.
LS: OK, I was in the audience, and I say it went very well. There was a good rapport between you and Simon van Booy. Also, there’s no way your American grandmothers would be ashamed of your “bad” English!
LS: How did you choose which extract to read?
PG: Easy: I have read extracts from that particular book a thousand times and I know what works best. I am also not that confident in English, so I decided to read an extract that I knew better than others.
LS: Which was the best question and why?
There was a question about meaning in literature that it’s always interesting, but too complicated to be answered in a couple of minutes.
LS: Book-signing – love it or hate it? Any secrets to share?
PG: I like it and I’m afraid I don’t have any big secrets. I always try to write different things to everybody and sometimes that is not easy, mostly when there is a lot of people and there is not that much time.
LS: What did you do after the book-signing was finished?
PG: Went to have a glass of wine and something to eat with Simon van Booy, the other author. Very pleasant Thai meal.
LS: How do you feel about book festivals in general? The EIBF in particular? Do you consider it part of the day job that you signed up to when you became an author?
I didn’t really realize what I was signing up for when I became a writer. As with any job, when you get into it you discover unexpected aspects: some you enjoy, others you don’t. The only added problem with writing is the feeling that the aspects you don’t like actually spoil writing itself. Regardless, book festivals are something I usually enjoy.
LS: Have you / are you going to attend any other book festivals?
PG: I have attended lots of events in the past few years. As for the future we’ll see: the intention, if possible, would be to attend only those that I find healthy.
LS: How did your blog tour compare to meeting readers in the flesh?
PG: I sometimes wonder what I would have thought if twenty years ago somebody had told me that one day I would be an author and would meet readers around the world simply by sitting in my studio in front of a small tv. This was my first blog tour and it was quite an experience.
LS: It certainly seems to be have been. Here’s the full itinerary.
19.08.09 Alma Books Bloggerel http://www.bloggerel.com
20.08.09 Bibliophilic Blogger http://bibliophilicblogger.blogspot.com
21.08.09 Nihoni Distractions http://nihondistractions.blogspot.com
24.08.09 The Truth About Lies http://jimmurdoch.blogspot.com
25.08.09 Pursewarden http://pursewardenblog.blogspot.com
26.08.09 The View From Here http://www.viewfromheremagazine.com
27.08.09 Bookmunch http://bookmunch.wordpress.com
28.08.09 Notes in theMargin http://christopherschuler.independentminds.livejournal.com