I’m delighted to be part of the English launch celebrations of Errors of Evaluation by Paola Pica. Errors of Evaluation was published in paperback by Clink Street on 26th July 2016 and is available for purchase here and can be ordered from all good bookhops.
To mark the occasion of Errors of Evaluation being publisheed in English, I have an interview with Paola Pica below.
Errors of Evaluation
Francesca’s presence pervades the lives of those she meets. She leaves an indelible mark, the true nature of her personality revealed through other people’s encounters with her. Her boldness as a spoilt child. Her temporary (and just) suffering as the victim of a shrink – an ambiguous and even more unscrupulous person than her in grasping anything graspable. And the more than explicit revelation of her blind egocentrism, because of which she ignores the one person who has tried tirelessly to help her.
Three very different characters tell the same story about the enigmatic woman who has entered the lives, each one illuminating who Francesca really is, from their own point of view. Each character has made an error of evaluation which they realise has prejudiced their lives and their relationships. An omniscient narrator will have the final say.
This is the first version in English of Errors of Evaluation by the Italian writer Paola Pica.
An Interview with Paola Pica
Hi Paola . Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your novel Errors of Evaluation.
Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?
I work as a teacher and a translator (English-Italian-English), after having studied in Italy and England. As a parallel activity, I have always written. That is, I used to keep a diary when I was very young and started to write stories later on in my life; but without even trying to become “a writer”, because I’ve always known how difficult it is in Italy. I work in Rome, where I lived for a long time and which I left some time ago, going back to Castelli Romani, where I found the quietness to write and live my small country life. This area is on Rome outskirts and having to commute seems to me the right price to pay for a better life.
When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?
I realized it only comparatively late, about ten years ago, after a serious accident because of which I was stuck home for more than three months. At that point I had plenty of time to spend trying to contact Publishers, which are the most difficult part of the process of writing.
If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?
Another dream of mine has always been to be a painter and I used to feel drawing pads with my watercolor “efforts” when I was very young. With age, my self- criticism increased too, and I found out that I was better at words.
How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic?
I simply stick to life and I consider myself very fortunate, because mine has never been a boring one.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
Inventing is the easiest thing for me to do. On the contrary, to use episodes or characters from real life without letting them be recognizable is very difficult to me, because the details stick to my mind like in photos and it wouldn’t be polite if people could recognize themselves in my stories. I only did it, once and on purpose, with the shrink in Errors of Evaluation; but that was my attempt at almost legally reporting his enormous guiltiness as a “professional”, which he was not.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I usually take notes wherever I am and whenever an idea or inspiration comes to my mind. As for an actual writing, I only can do it once I’m seated in front of my PC. Due to my job, I can’t have a writing routine yet. Should writing become my primary activity, I would start a very strict one.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
Even if I read whatever I find interesting (it usually happens to me while I’m visiting bookshops), my favourite books are novels in which the authors dig deep inside human minds.
Do you have other interests that give you ideas for writing?
Many ideas also come to me from people I meet because of my job. In fact, at the moment I’m seriously thinking of writing on the international diplomatic world.
How does it feel when your writing is translated into another language?
At the moment only one book, Errors of Evaluation, has been translated into only one language, English, which I know well but not well enough for translating fiction myself. I’ve been strictly in contact with my translator Janice, whom I chose after sharing part of my life with her. That’s why she can correctly interpret and not just translate what I write.
Why did you decide to explore prejudice in its various forms within Errors of Evaluation?
Prejudice is one of the main features of our Society, meaning “global” by “our” and not just Italian. English people should know about some great English writer who wrote about prejudice long before me; shouldn’t they?
You use multiple narrators in Errors of Evaluation. Does one have a viewpoint most aligned to your own and why did you decide to use this technique?
I decided to use this technique because I’ve always believed in multiple truths, according to multiple points of view, and also because I am convinced that people can affect other people’s lives in different ways even at almost the same time. In ERRORS, Elena’s point of view is probably the most aligned one to my own.
To what extent do you feel all human beings are egocentric like Francesca?
I don’t think of it at all. The world would have already destroyed itself long ago, should this have been the real situation.
Errors of Evaluation has a very decadent cover. How did that image come about and what were you hoping to convey (without spoiling the plot please!)?
I don’t exactly know what you mean by “decadent” while dealing with the cover photo of my book, which I bought in London long ago and is one of my favourite in my collection. I find it simply beautiful and sensual without being pornographic, just as Francesca is a very classy and sensual girl.
(I agree – I meant opulent and sensual too)
If you could choose to be a character from Errors of Evaluation, who would you be and why?
I never feel as part of my novels, because they are usually completely made up. Having said what I have just stated about Elena’s point of view, I might feel like embodying her character, if asked.
If Errors of Evaluation became a film, who would you like to play Francesca?
If I’m being asked for the name of an actress I would have “the embarrassment in the choice”, as we Italians say; because there are so many good actresses of different nationalities nowadays. For sure, she should be and remind the audience of someone apparently detached and ice-cold but extremely attractive, as Grace Kelly was.
If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that Errors of Evaluation should be their next read, what would you say?
“If you prefer strong and weak minds to an adventurous plot, this is your book”
Thank you so much, Paola, for your time in answering my questions.
About Paola Pica
Living just outside Rome, Italy, Paola Pica has studied and worked extensively in England and her homeland as a translator and interpreter. Today she works for various embassies in Rome, as well as focusing on her writing. She is the author of five novels and one short story collection.
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