Interview with Angela Guidolin

Published 2017-02-24.
Tell us about your book Across Spacetime.
Across Spacetime is a science fiction romance novella.It’s set in 2651. Humans have colonised most of the Solar System, and have a vast theoretical knowledge of the multiverse. The Martian branch of the Earth History Institute decides to put that knowledge to use by offering a few lucky students the chance to spend a short while on a different point of the spacetime continuum for research purposes. Samir, a young Terran, takes this opportunity to experience London in the '90. A few years later he happens upon another time traveller, Beatrice, a young Progressive (human from the outer planetary systems). They fall in love despite a very wide cultural gap and must decide whether to stay in the past, where they feel free to be together but where they don’t belong, or go back to the future, enjoy the comforts of their very advanced technology and face the prejudice of their society.
What's the story behind Across Spacetime?
The story is about how I met my husband-to-be and no, we’re not time travellers.
After graduating in Business Economics in 1995 I went to London to polish my English and earn work experience. I meant to stay for 3 months, but the first week I was there I met him and the rest is history, as they say. Like the main characters, Samir and Beatrice, we came from different backgrounds. This is both very attractive and difficult to handle at the same time. We decided to get married after a few months and our families were dead against it. It was too soon, with somebody they didn’t know, not even by their reputation because we had no family in the UK. Living in London and being responsible adults, we went ahead and told them a year later. It was a very simple ceremony. I didn’t even wear a proper wedding dress—couldn’t stand the idea of wearing white as it’s a colour that doesn’t suit me and of wasting money on a dress that I would use for just one day. I’m romantic, but very practical too.
During our marriage we’ve been blessed with a daughter, the best gift life has given us. We’ve followed our dreams, moving from London to France to Italy and back to the UK. We’ve been to hell and back, and it’s been worth every single day, every fight, and every success.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
My favourite character is Beatrice, the female main character. There’s a lot of me in her. Although my childhood has been a normal one, I was very sensitive and often felt disconnected from the people around me. Like Beatrice, I went to London when I was in my late twenties and it was a fantastic time in my life, full of challenges and rewards.
Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
Well, to start with, Across Spacetime holds the fascination of time travel. Samir and Beatrice see life from the point of view of two outsiders and therefore readers will rediscover the little pleasures that make life worth living.
They also face tough choices and must find the courage to follow their dreams, even though it means to disappoint or defy their families. Readers who are going through a bad patch will enjoy some encouragement.
Last, but not least, Across Spacetime is ideal to read out with a partner, as it is written in the first person singular, and Samir and Beatrice tell the story from their point of view in alternate chapters.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Only a few years ago, although in 2000 a tarot reader told me I would write a book. I didn’t know what to make of it. I’ve always been a bookworm but never thought of becoming a writer. Moreover, for the previous two years, I’d been struggling with a crippling pain in the upper part of my body, especially in my wrists. My GP had sent me to yoga classes and to a few practitioners, then told me that I was suffering from repetitive strain injury and there was nothing she could do for me. It could only get worse. Would I really be able to write a book? And what would I write about, exactly?
As you can imagine, my first priority was to heal. As I couldn’t count on my GP, I started the journey to recovery on my own. At 30, I couldn’t accept her diagnosis!
I tried many alternative and complementary therapies. Each one helped me a little. One healer, though, gave me the key to go back to health by lending me a book by Louise Hay, “You can heal your life.” It blew my mind because it connected diseases with thought patterns. Muscles problems, for example, are linked to resistance to new experiences, and my resistance derived from an idea of success imposed to me by society.
Holding an Italian first degree in Business Economics, I was expected to be in a glamorous job and climb the social ladder. Being and immigrant in London, the reality was different. Nobody was interested in my degree because I had no experience, so the only jobs offered to me were jobs I considered menial and felt frustrated after a while.
If I wanted to be happy and healthy, though, I had to ditch the conviction that success equals high social status and choose success equals what makes me happy. I had to focus on my internal expectations and not the ones society had inculcated in me. Problem was, I didn’t know what I wanted to do!
So I just went with the flow. I agreed to follow my husband to France and run a coffee shop with him. When our daughter was born we moved to Italy to stay near to my parents, because we feared she would be all alone in a foreign country if something happened to both of us.
In Italy I worked in the family business using my degree, at last. On the one hand, I was happy to be in a job that challenged me, on the other hand I soon realised that it wasn’t for me. My soul longed for something more meaningful, in line with my core values. I wanted to help people somehow. Although I had trained as a Spiritual Healer back in London, I couldn’t see myself working as a healer, so the search for my calling was still on.
In those four years in Italy (between 2007 and 2011) I was working and looking after our daughter with some help from my mum. I was in pain most of the time and I felt lonely because my husband soon relocated to the South of England and opened a new coffee shop with a partner.
It was 2008 when I felt it was the right time to start writing the book the tarot reader had told me I would write. Among the genres, I chose science fiction. I consider it as applied philosophy and sociology, played out in a safe environment, and it was fun.
The process of writing was slow going, as I had little time to dedicate to this project and so much to learn. After settling down in the South of England I attended Creative Writing courses, my health improved, and my passion for writing blossomed. I started to believe that I could make it as a writer and I felt that I had found my calling at last.
What is your favourite genre to read, to write?
Science fiction in both cases. It seems I can’t write in any other genre. My new book, Across Spacetime is based on how I met my husband. The idea was to write a romance, but it soon morphed into a SF romance story.
I love science fiction because, to use Ray Bradbury’s words, it “is the most important literature in the history of the world because it’s the history of ideas, the history of our civilization birthing itself. … Science Fiction is central to everything we’ve ever done, and people who make fun of science fiction writers don’t know what they’re talking about."
I would add that a good SF story always deals with very human problems, even if the characters are aliens or is set in a distant future. For example, in the film Avatar the indigenous people, the Na’vi, are blue, have a tail and live on a moon of Pandora. What they face, though, is what indigenous people all over the world have been facing throughout history: dispossession of their lands, ridicule, and subjugation.
What is your writing process?
I’m a plotter and a discoverer. When I have an idea I let it grow until I feel it’s ready to be dissected and caged in a plot. I can spend a few weeks tweaking it before I’m confident enough to start writing the first chapter. And when I’m happy and let my guard down, my characters hijack the story and force me to change the plot.
Plotting is a way to put my mind at ease, to pretend I’m in control. The same thing happens in my life. So much so that I’ve stopped making plans a long time ago. I mean, I have goals and plans which I modify along the way.
Once I finish a chapter, I edit it on my laptop, then I print it, edit it again and send a digital copy to my first readers. As soon as the story is finished, I print it out, check it all again and send it to an editor.
What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
It’s one by Stephen King, from his book On Writing: “As with all other aspects of the narrative art, you will improve with time, but time will never make you perfect. Why should it? What fun would that be?”
It reminds me that writing for me is a passion, so fun is a big part of it., and that my manuscript will never be perfect. Once I feel it’s as good as can be, I must let it go and submit it for publication.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It’s the creation part, it’s seeing new characters and worlds come to life. It’s being able to transform my personal experiences, especially the painful ones, into something beautiful that can help the readers to see their own lives from a different angle and therefore find answers and solutions to their problems, or only have some respite from their everyday struggles.
Do you think that there is sentient life on other planets?
I believe not only that there’s sentient life on other planets, but that many alien races are here on Earth now. Many UFO sightings have been reported throughout human history, even in Folkestone where I live. And if you go on YouTube you find lots of videos from around the world that cannot be debunked. It’s good to know that we’re not alone on this speck, but I fear that shortly I’ll have to change the genre I write in!
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