Interview with Maria Pellegrini, Lavirrealista

What motivated you to become an indie author?
I like to observe reality and completely undress it then I dress it up the way I see it or how it could be. Of course this needs readers who are capable of decoding the meaning of my works. Reading the words, looking for the story is not enough. But publishers want stories to sell. Stories that are trendy, that have characters, plots, heroes, villains, assassins, the fight of good against evil and so on. So as long as the mainstream continues to want that, things will only change, if at all, very slowly and people like me will have no future in the recognised publishing industry, but will not want it either. Being an indie author is like being an artist in my own studio. If I want to paint my hero like a big hand with six fingers inside a kaleidoscopic reality and I want to do it in my own time, I can do it. Together with techniques, styles and content I can also decide the format, the front cover, the distribution channels, and last but not least, the price.

When I realised that there were galleries like Smashwords that would let me exhibit, encourage me and help me I did not think twice. As you see in my web site (http://www.virrealismo.com) the motto of Virrealismo Publishing is: “Technology Enabled Freedom of Expression!”
What genre best describes your writing?
I find classifying writing by “genre” extremely unsatisfactory. For example, what is classified as “science fiction” on the main platforms covers many, completely different sub-genres. So I am convinced that the only way to “classify” contemporary written works should be according to the readers who like them, full stop. Having said that, of course I would regard my work within the science fiction genre, meaning I am interested equally in the “science” and the “fiction”. But my interest is really about the effects of science on society and vice-versa and to imagine futures with evolved minds and advanced knowledge which gives rise to almost infinite possibilities to be explored. This includes life from the simplest microbial forms to the most sophisticated, complex, intelligent beings. However, in fiction this only really comes to life if you can see some sort of logical progression from where science and technologies are now to where they might end up in the future, that really is my genre.
In your first book, Real Virtualities, Siei and Dari the main characters are genderless in the sense that their gender is never revealed grammatically. What is the reason for that?
This first work for me was like a cauldron to brew up some new ideas. So when I was drafting the two characters of Siei and Dari, given that gender is secondary in the Virrealistic society of Future Earth, I decided to leave them ambiguous, and give them sometimes a masculine and sometimes a feminine touch. In this way I thought they would fit better in their world and their many virtual experiences in the story. At the same time I wanted to leave the readers in charge of assigning them a gender... a kind of game between me and them. In fact during the writing I alternated between how I regarded them as either male or female. It was a good exercise for me because each of them does have a defined gender, the idea was simply not to reveal that to the reader. This was quite a challenge grammatically but I felt it came out well in the end.
Lavirrealista is your pen name and Virrealismo Publishing is your indie brand. So what's behind the “Virrealism” concept?
This is a big question and I can tell that you in due course you will find out more. But in brief Virrealism is like a missing link between the real and the virtual. By real I mean what we sense with our five senses, that is solids, liquids and gases which is the product of those little electromagnetic systems which we call atoms. By virtual I mean the concept of this “matter”. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are respectively the simulation and shadow representations of reality but again both still need some of our five senses, so far our eyes and our ears. The missing link thus is our capacity to rearrange the concept the way we wish in order to create realities that we can sense with our brains directly. And for that I created the “hypersenses” that is the senses of the brain. For example, in Real Virtualities, there is a marvelous exotic feast where what is consumed is created by a virtual “envelope” around something completely mundane but which is experienced as the most wonderful repast. Virrealism represents the way I see the future in which our body and brain evolved species will live, unconstrained by “reality”, limited only by imagination. These are worlds where matter becomes of secondary importance; worlds that have lost their rigidity and objects have none, one and a hundred thousand forms! Lavirrealista is trying to show the way to that future.
So far you have published two works, Real Virtualities and Tales from the Mother Galaxy. Apart from the format – the former being full length, and the latter a collection of short stories - what are their similarities and differences?
Real Virtualities as I said is like a cauldron of ideas; each of the five tales of the Mother Galaxy build on them and advance them in different ways. The collection certainly continues on the main theme of Real Virtualities, that is, the idea of a future in which technology, science and mental and cerebral development are advanced to fantastic levels and the Virtual often supersedes the Real becoming more complex but also much more interesting. For example I like to use different technology to transport the mind into the past. In Tumeng, for instance, they use the memoclonator, a kind of portable personal memory kit used to connect brains and thus share memories and emotions. In Real Virtualities it is the virtucrono, a virtual cube to which the user's brain is connected to be able to virtualise personal memories, so that the Past becomes again Present which is thus perceived and understood at a very personal level. Other elements of similarity might be seen in the recurrent theme of multiple realities. Take for example Planets Under Glass or Borrowed Brains; both stories have a point of similarity with Real Virtualities in considering the existence of infinite realities and exploring their meanings. Having said that, of course all my works are essentially different. Each of the five stories for instance has its own identity and message even if they are all very loosely related by taking a social theme to the extreme and projecting it into the Future. Perhaps a stronger common denominator is the technological backdrop against which the events take place and how technology interacts with bodies but, more interestingly, with brains which have evolved well beyond ours. So the theme of Virrealism is carried forward.
Looking at the promo of your book (http://youtu.be/AhZHZwkyLBQ) it looks you have a quite dystopic view of the Earth of the Past compared to Future Earth. So can we say you have a kind of naïve, optimistic vision of the Future?
You may say that, I like it, even if I can certainly add that in my ideal worlds only those who know and understand their Past will evolve and among them only those who continue to invest in all the fields of research, science, art and ultimately technology will be able to create the 'realities' of the Future. I believe that to understand the white you need to understand the black and vice-versa. It is only for that reason that you will always find a touch of dystopianism in my books which are perhaps not so naïve after all. You see, so far the mechanism of evolution has been selective only upon the body. In the world of tomorrow it will be mind evolution that will determine the path to the next level. As I put it in Real Virtualities “In mental genetics the evolutionary process, by its unrestrainable nature, finally started. Those who did not evolve would sooner or later disappear, without massacres or conflict, but simply by natural deselection.”
What are you working on next?
I cannot say much of course, but I can anticipate that the first setting of this new venture starts in about five or six generations from now. The inspiration for this new work comes from the mixture of societies of South East Asia which is where I have been living and traveling for the last few years. I am surrounded by them while I work. The realities I have experienced are already incorporated into the outline of a new saga and many more ideas are starting to mature, ready to be harvested. In addition Science has made great strides since the beginning of the new millennium, especially bio-science. The technologies that will emerge are still embryonic as are the social implications of the new discoveries. I might add that for the new works I am experimenting with some different stylistic techniques in the writing which I hope will challenge the reader towards Virrealism.
Who are your favorite authors and which one of them do you think had most influence on your writing?
I would say that there are many, quite diverse authors whom I have read and who had an influence on my writing. They have surely helped me to develop the backbone of my style so far. I actually read some of these influential works quite some time ago and I have made a selection of them here: http://www.anobii.com/lavirrealista. Other authors have had more effect on the underlying message and maybe you can still trace some of them from the distant past but recent readings are more vital for that. There are not only books but also essays, papers, factual reports and so on. It seems that the concept of “favorite authors” which most influenced my writing is a blended one. However, I would point out that the cultural profile of modern authors is more complex than just what he or she has read. So to the list of my maestri, I could also add for example my favorite film directors but not yet. I am currently very interested in the idea of matching the interests and preferences of the readership with the intellectual personality of the authors given that the indie ebook revolution has overwhelmed the reader with new works. I think they need bit of help to discover new authors!
Describe your desk.
I use mostly laptop and e-reader to build my works following initial brainstorming on paper. My working environment so far has varied a lot. From the bottom of a dark green garden in the company of a hot mug of coffee and a gentle fog rising over a field of lovely fresh, damp English countryside, to the window seat of an aircraft crossing countries and continents, to the desks of stylish modern or classic cosy hotel rooms, to the high floor of a modern minimalist apartment surrounded by a growing concrete jungle.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The Wonderful Voyage of Ulysses (Il Meraviglioso Viaggio di Ulisse, Bartoli Fabbri 1961). This was the very first book I remember reading when I was about 8-9 years old. I discovered it in our little library at school where I was the librarian for a while. I fell in love with the adventurous journeys, and later with Greece and Classical Antiqity, so much so that at high school I decided to study Classics. Later I switched to scientific study, but deep down my first love for Greece and travelling remains.
Published 2013-09-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Accidental Warrior
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,800. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: February 4, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » General
The author says: "I imagined the siege of Masada. What if it were set in the Future? They needed protection, food and water. A human chain. I thought of Mortal Kombat. Buttons of death beating life to a bloody pulp... I thought of The Fifth Element, Besson's movie, and a scene kept coming back... What's the use in saving life when you see what you do with it?"
Guerriera Per Caso
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,470. Language: Italian. Published: August 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Military
CONDANNATI A VIVERE - Una storia controversa narrata attraverso il potere di un s-book (e-book del futuro).
Tuméng
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,990. Language: British English. Published: February 28, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Riding the ferocious cosmoidal currents of the Imperceptible and avoiding lethal Space Vortices will be the only way for the mission led by the intrepid commander Tuméng to reach a faraway planet and save again life in the Galaxy.
Tales from the Mother Galaxy
Price: $2.50 USD. Words: 45,160. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: February 28, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
Stunning visions of the future: intelligence triumphs over politics and science and technology expand reality to the limits of imagination.
Tuméng
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,150. Language: Italian. Published: February 3, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Cavalcare le feroci correnti cosmoidali dell'Impercettibile ed evitare i letali Vortici Spaziali sarà l'unico modo per la missione guidata dall'intrepido capitano Tuméng di raggiungere un pianeta lontano e salvare ancora una volta la vita nella Galassia.
Racconti dalla Galassia Madre
Price: $2.50 USD. Words: 42,610. Language: Italian. Published: January 31, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
Cinque lunghi viaggi in una parte misteriosa e inusuale dell’Universo. Sentieri di guerra, incubi e fughe da un totale controllo mentale, macchine da corsa per le strade dell’Universo, sentieri che si biforcano e moltiplicano i mondi. Infine incontri e scontri, inevitabili e coinvolgenti, dentro simulazioni di pensieri e sensazioni, durante celebri passeggiate aliene.
Planets Under Glass
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 10,100. Language: Commonwealth English. Published: September 30, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Alternative history, Fiction » Literature » Transgressional
An intense, rich tale... a bit shocking for some but at the end of the day, as they used to say in another galaxy, "Planets you visit realities you find". A thought provoking tale.
Pianeti Sotto Vetro
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,810. Language: Italian. Published: September 24, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Una racconto intenso, ricco... forse un po' scioccante per qualcuno ma in fondo, come si usava dire nella Galassia Madre, "Pianeta che vai realtà che trovi".
Zetana The Disconnected
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 10,220. Language: English. Published: May 29, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Zetana The Disconnected is dedicated to the Freedom of the Internet.
The War of the Plutonidians
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,800. Language: English. Published: May 15, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Wars between Plutonidians were only ancient myths... but since the new settlement in a new world something happened and so chaos became order, noise became silence and peace... WAR!
Borrowed Brains
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 10,450. Language: English. Published: May 10, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Visionary & metaphysical
This story explores the mind of the central character, UÌGO, who becomes simultaneously part of two vastly different worlds questioning the meaning of reality.
La Guerra dei Plutonidei
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,690. Language: Italian. Published: May 8, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
"Così accadde che il caos divenne ordine, il rumore silenzio e la pace... guerra!" Il racconto esplora il significato della guerra e ha un piacevole twist alla fine. Buon divertimento!
Cervelli Prestati
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,850. Language: Italian. Published: March 2, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Un gruppo di scienziati scopre nuove particelle e un campo di forze fino ad allora sconosciuti. Dopo breve tempo viene realizzato il primo modello di teletrasporto mentale organico e servono volontari per collaudare la nuova invenzione. Cervelli Prestati è dedicato alla Mente, la manifestazione biologica più interessante e preziosa dei nostri atomi.
Zetana La Disconnessa
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,700. Language: Italian. Published: September 2, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
La Connessione Universale era il modo in cui la conoscenza fluiva attorno alla Galassia Madre. Ma nel pianeta Cloudio il Sistema Plasmario era diverso e gli abitanti ne erano fieri. Ma poi nacque Zetana...
Virtualità Reali
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 41,310. Language: Italian. Published: July 6, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Virtualità Reali è una storia avvincente ambientata in un futuro lontano emerso dai disastrosi eventi che avevano trascinato la Terra alle soglie dell'estinzione totale. E' un mondo diverso in cui la necessità di lavorare è stata superata e dunque la gente della Terra Futura si dedica alla scoperta e all'innovazione perdendosi dentro mondi virtuali, passati, presenti e futuri.
Real Virtualities
Price: $2.50 USD. Words: 44,290. Language: English. Published: June 15, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
A different scifi setting where post-humans are not artificial but reality is!