First Chapters Q&A with Moreno Giovannoni

Moreno Giovannoni was born in San Ginese but grew up in a house on a hill, on a tobacco farm at Buffalo River in north-east Victoria.  He is a freelance translator of long standing.
Moreno will be reading from his book of stories The Fireflies of Autumn: Tales from San Ginese at First Chapters on Friday 6 July.

We asked Moreno some general bookish questions because we were interested in finding out more about him and this is what he had to say.

1. Brunswick Bound has asked you to read a chapter from your published work.  Tell us what we can expect from the chapter you have chosen?

I will read The Imbeciles And The Fig Tree, which is about the poverty and the ignorance to be found in the village of San Ginese, peasant religious and other beliefs and culture in general, and the desire to emigrate to America which was everyone's dream early in the 20th century.

2. How would you describe the kinds of books that you write?

I've written one book and had some essays and a story published. It's significant I think, that, before The Fireflies Of Autumn, any writing that I submitted to journals that was then published was invariably placed in the memoir section of the publication. What I write sounds like memoir even though it's not.

3. What was the first book that you read (or had read to you) that left an impression on you?

The Italian version of Alexander Dumas's Robin Hood. My maternal grandfather sent it to me from Italy when I was 9 years old. It was my breakthrough Italian reading experience. I struggled at the start but by the end I knew I could read Italian books.

4. Do you believe that books should answer life’s big questions?

Yes. That's why I have always read. I tried to answer, or at least discuss, one of the big questions in The Fireflies Of Autumn.

5. What’s your go-to solution for writer’s block?


I just sit down and write anything: how the backyard looks from my upstairs room, how the sky looks, how I feel, even what it's like to have writer's block. The act of writing usually unblocks me. I might also catch a train to the city and back, stopping for lunch in a food court at Southern Cross station or somewhere similar.

6.  Which words or phrases do you overuse?

One day …

7. What do you put down as your occupation when asked?

I'm a translator and interpreter. I've been earning a living as a translator  and interpreter for more than forty years so that's what I feel I am. I went through a stage where I tried to convince myself I was a writer but it didn't sound right. Now I like to say I wrote a book and I'm working on another one.

8. What is the question that you hope never to be asked in an author Q&A?

I can't think of anything. Go for it. Ask me anything.

9. What question do you hope you will be asked and why?

Where did the book come from / how do you decide what you want to write about? This is fundamental. I have no problems knowing what to write about. I don't write for the sake of writing. I write because there are some things I want to say.

10. Which book that you have read do you think should be better known or more widely read?

In Australia at least, Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. Anderson was Ernest Hemingway's mentor. Winesburg, Ohio is a book of linked stories all set in the same town, with characters appearing in each other's stories and a principal character who is a young reporter who by the end of the book leaves town for the big city. It is a rather sad book about sad people, but it's a reminder that life is serious stuff and is full of humanity.

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