A tip I was given early on by both Lynn Tincher and Linda Goin, is to make use of social media to meet other writers, editors, publishers and agents. Over the past year and a half I’ve been able to meet many wonderfully talented and entertaining people.
One such is first time author, Pedro Barrento of Mozambique, author of The Prince and the Singularity – A Circular Tale.
I asked Pedro if he would take the time for an interview and he agreed. Despite the fact he tells me often English is not his first language, I think he does as well as most Kentuckians. Make sure and check out his bio and book blurb as well.
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
I guess they are the same as for non writers. I think there are three types of people: those who live in the past, those who live in the present and those who live in the future. The only really sane ones are the ones who live in the present. The ones who live in the past are always longing for a world that no longer exists and have difficulty accepting the world as it is. The ones who live in the future are always anxious and nervous, waiting for events that have not yet happened.
I have always lived in the future and some decades of meditation and yoga don’t seem to have helped.
What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a story about different religions blended into one novel?
To be honest, I don’t know because I never set out to write a story about different religions. I just started having sudden blasts of inspiration where small bits of stories would suddenly appear in my mind, usually in situations where I was totally relaxed and thinking of nothing in particular, especially when I went swimming. I would write down these bits and pieces, which appeared to me and were written down in a non sequential order. After I had accumulated a fair amount of these, I started thinking that they could eventually all be connected together to make a book, although I didn’t really have a clear idea of how it could be done or even if it could be done at all. Only after these bits and pieces achieved a certain volume did I understand that I was writing a book that blended different religious and philosophical concepts in a way that was quite non-typical. I know this will sound very odd but it felt a lot more like I was being used to write something rather than that I was writing something out of my own volition.
Anyway, after the whole thing reached a certain volume I started having ideas that I could call “my own” and only then did I sometimes try to steer the story in one direction or another, namely trying to make it funny or with a certain type of literary structure.
The challenges specifically related to the mixing of religions and philosophies only revealed themselves when I started testing the draft version on the authonomy site and suddenly understood that to some people the book was either offensive or confusing or both. Trying to make the story easier to understand and less offensive to some sectors of the public without really changing anything in its essence was the real challenge.
What do you consider your biggest failure? Do you ever experience writer’s block and if so, how do you unblock yourself?
I only wrote one book to date so I have some difficulty speaking in general terms as my experience is quite limited. I think my biggest failure with this particular book was being unable to stretch the story and make it “calmer”. The book is too short (160 pages) everything happens too fast and there is too much density in the contents of each chapter. An experienced writer would have been able to turn this into a 300 pages book which most readers would probably be able to appreciate better as things would develop in a proper tempo and the book would have less of a mind bending feel to it. But then, maybe I’m wrong and the book wouldn’t then sound as original and creative, I’m not sure and I’m quite interested in knowing readers’ opinions on this particular subject.
I experienced a lot of block. The secret to getting past it is to get into a meditative state so that the story can “appear”. As long as my mind is working it blocks the inspiration.
Are you jealous of other writers?
I’m jealous of people who achieve the things I want to achieve and in the exact manner in which I want to achieve them, which means I may not be jealous at all of a writer who sold 10 million copies in a certain genre and using a certain commercial chain but I may be very jealous of a writer who sold 100.000 copies in a different genre and using a different commercial approach.
Are there any occupational hazards to writing fiction?
I guess if you are one of those writers who is disciplined and writes everyday from 9h30 to 12h30 there won’t be any occupational hazards. I wrote this book in sudden and unpredictable bouts of inspiration, which means a writing session could involve starting at midnight and finishing at 8 am because I had to take the kid to school and falling asleep only after I came back home. It was also written in a very emotional way. This way of writing destroys your sleep cycles and your health, unbalances your mind and leaves you physically and emotionally exhausted.
So, to answer your question, whether there are occupational hazards in writing largely depends on which type of writer you are.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I’m already 52. I’m afraid there’s not much time left for me to grow up and I’m starting to doubt I ever will.
About the book:
The Prince and the Singularity – A Circular Tale is a take on the Creation myth, drawing from different religious and philosophical sources and mixing them in an original, challenging and often very funny way. It is written in a multi-layered format, allowing it to be read both as a simple and entertaining fable and as a deeply philosophical work, full of hidden references and satire.
It’s the story of the Prince aka the Master aka Francis, who is more or less immortal and goes through the millennia fighting Desire and Rejection, the roots of all unhappiness and evil. He always fails until the moment he loses interest and decides to die, which he doesn’t. Instead he gets promoted.
And the author:
Pedro was born in Mozambique 51 years ago, attended English schools in Lisbon and pursued his education until finishing a degree in Law. When he was around 33, Pedro decided there’s more to life than being a lawyer and tried his hand at various business activities, the most successful of which was a company that produced and managed rock bands. A year ago he decided to pick up again a long-forgotten hobby of his: writing. He started with a blog, mainly dedicated to political satire. Encouraged by the feedback from the blog Pedro then decided to try his hand at a whole book, an effort which resulted in the creation of The Prince and the Singularity – A Circular Tale.