Celebrity interview -- Author Andrea De Carlo

September 26, 2006|by MARY A. KAVANAGH

Last year I was given the opportunity to interview Michael Glaser, the poet laureate of Maryland, and that seemed pretty cool to me at the time.

But recently, that was upstaged by calling Italy to interview author Andrea De Carlo.

I was kind of worried about it at first: You know, the whole language barrier. He might possibly not have great English, and I don't know any Italian, except for ciao.

But my worries were put to rest. De Carlo has lived all over the world - Melbourne and Sydney in Australia, all throughout Europe and, most importantly, New York and San Francisco.

He began seriously writing at the age of 18, when he received a memorable red typewriter from his mother as a birthday gift. Before this, he describes himself as "scribbling like a teenager" and with "no intention."


He didn't start composing novels right off the bat either. Rather, he began with diaries and sketches. For inspiration, he did what many writers have done.

"(Ideas) always come and still do from my own life," he said.

De Carlo reiterated the importance of his own life and hearing about different people and places.

"Writing has a personal meaning to the life of the writer," he said.

Unlike some writers, he doesn't sit down with the objective of writing a novel. He says he's constantly "thinking about ideas" and has to "wait till they're mature" for him to think about a novel.

Once he's this far, De Carlo still is "working mentally [to] gather ideas" because he said he can only begin to put ideas to paper "when you know plot and characters."

Every novel he writes is just "to have a new way to say things," so De Carlo believes it's crucial for each book to have its own particular style. Although this approach takes much more time, he sticks by his theory that you can't just try to use someone else's style and voice for your own thoughts.

"Language is a tool and you have to find your own," he said.

I also asked him if, when he sits down to write a novel, he tries for a target audience. To my astonishment he said that was "a paralyzing thought," and that he probably wouldn't be able to write if he ever thought that way. De Carlo said he writes for himself and then hopes others can relate.

And people do relate, as he found at a book signing in Venice.

"I met three generations of readers," he said. "I was really happy about it, that I could connect to so many."

His most recent novel released in the United States is "Windshift." It was originally published in Italian, just as his other novels have been, but he has recently translated "Windshift"into English himself.

De Carlo's novels have been translated by other people into at least 13 other languages, but he's always thought his unique voice is lost in the process.

Reading translations, he said, is "so surreal. Your writing is like the sound of your own voice." But in other people's translations, the "sounds aren't right." He's planning to translate the next novel himself, if he feels passionate enough about the book, as he did with "Windshift."

Within the past few months De Carlo has published his newest novel in Italy and is currently promoting it. But he said there are "always several ideas turning in the back of my mind" for upcoming stories.

His advice to young writers is to approach writing as work.

"(You are) not to just be happy with the first results," he said. "You should write and rewrite."

Every good work should take a long, long time.

If you go ...

WHAT: Italian author Andrea De Carlo will read and sign copies of his novel "Windshift."

WHEN: Wednesday, Sept. 27, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Italian Embassy, 3000 Whitehaven Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

COST: Free; the public is invited.

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