An interview with Stefania Mattana
Writer Stefania is the creator of Chase Williams, a former London detective helping to solve crimes in Italy. She also runs the Daily Pinner blog and you can find her on Twitter @EraniaPinnera or visit her website.
You’ve just released the latest book in your Chase Williams crime series. What is the most challenging part of being a self-published author?
It’s definitely marketing my ebooks. The sea is full of fish and readers can choose between thousands of titles. Making your ebook spot on is not easy at all. However it’s a challenging adventure that doesn’t scare me.
What advice would you offer to a writer hoping to self-publish their work?
I have some evergreen advice for rising authors.
1) Write what you like and what you know. It’s useless writing YA stories if you don’t fancy them, or writing a non-fiction book about how to breed a dog if you’ve never done it, only to make some money.
2) Be professional. Being a self publisher doesn’t mean you have to do everything by yourself: contact a good editor for your stories and a skilled graphic designer for your covers.
3) Don’t give up. Rewarding moments are just around the corner, but probably you’re going to face a lot of troubles and disappointments before turning that corner. Don’t lose your confidence.
4) Believe in the group. Thinking that authors are competitors is silly. On the other hand, being a team player is so beneficial, as always. Get along with other writers, don’t be shy, read their books, be honest with them in good and bad times, support them, and they will do likewise. The power is in the group.
You have also published writing in Italian; what are the main differences between those books and your English language work?
Italian and English are two very different languages and so are my books. I have published mostly non-fiction books in Italian and a couple of fiction stories. It’s like I have unconsciously chosen two different ways of telling stories according to the language! I will translate Italian non-fiction in English and viceversa sooner or later.
In any case, my Italian and English sides are always mixed: my blog is written in both two languages and my English language crime stories are set in Italy, they are inseparable!
One of your favourite crime writers is Agatha Christie (mine too!). Which of her books do you enjoy the most and why? Why do you prefer her work to modern crime fiction?
Well, I wouldn’t say I prefer her to modern crime fiction, even if sometimes it could seem so 🙂
Let’s say that nowadays it’s easier to find more noir and (mostly) thrillers than the traditional cozy mysteries, like Agatha’s.
I have tons of favourite Christie’s books; probably if I have to choose only one I’d go for Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. It’s not the best Agatha wrote, although it’s the one which gave me the inspiration to create Chase Williams and my Into the Killer Sphere novella. It was my trigger point.
I believe that the best of Agatha is in her short stories, by the way. They are so perfect in everything. I tried to emulate her work with my Cutting Right to the Chase – which are collections of 1000 word stories. Even if Agatha and George Simenon are my main “old-fashioned” benchmarks I try to be original in my way.
Which books are you planning to read next? Do you have any that you secretly suspect you’ll never get round to?
My kindle is almost full of to-read ebooks! Lot of them are from indie author fellows, while others are contemporary authors (mostly crime) and classics I’ve read in Italian but want to read in English as well.
About the genres, I usually don’t read any crimes or thrillers when I am writing as plagiarism is always around the corner. I like sci-fi as well and I am currently reading romance and chick-lit because I am not able to write romantic scenes properly and I need to… study! I read everything – fiction and non fiction – apart from vampire and Christian literature.
Are there any books you started but never finished?
They are few, probably three or four since I have memory. I think that every book, even the worst ones, deserve an overall review before being labelled as “awful”. I always find a way to reach the end of a book, even to respect the author’s efforts, no matter what.
I’m terrible for buying books and having piles of them lying around the house waiting to be read. How do you prefer to read: are you a Kindle addict, library regular or a paperback collector?
I used to be a compulsive paperback buyer, it’s my parents’ fault, their library is something you won’t believe your eyes. When I was a teenager I used to get books by the council library, which made me save a lot of money. Now I am a committed Kindle user. To me it’s very useful to have all my books into my Amazon account and not physically displayed into a bookshelf I should move here and there through Europe every time I decide to move. Let’s say it’s more a practical reason than an “ideology” or belief.
I like to keep my books looking new and as undamaged as possible. Do you have any pet hates about the way other people read or treat their books?
Since I haven’t got many paperbacks, I can tell you what I do with my Kindle 🙂
I’m not a maniac, but I take care of it like it’s the most expensive laptop in the world. There’s all my literary world inside, it’s my Stargate for another dimension. I’ve never borrowed it to anyone and I think I’m not going to do it!
And finally, do you have any random/funny/bizarre stories about books to share with us?
Hahaha, I’ve got tons of stories to tell. However, I’d like to share with you my father’s favourite one, since he’s so proud of me as a writer.
When I was three I’ve got seven big books (they are still alive in Sardinia) of tales’ authors such as Perrault, brothers Grimm, Andersen etc., pretty heavy and with coloured covers. Even if I obviously wasn’t able to read I used to open the books and start… reading! I was so used to see my parents reading that I started doing the same. My father also keeps telling people I used to create alternative finals for every tales when I was “reading”, he still remembers them all. I think one day I’ll publish an ebook with all my three-years-old alternative finales!
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