INTERVISTA alla famosa scrittrice di gialli inglese Lindsey Davis


D: Signora Davis, quando e come le è nata la passione per la scrittura e soprattutto per i gialli?

I always wanted to write, though I didn’t believe it was allowed as a profession. It seemed like too much fun! My first love is historical novels. I only came to wroite detective stories during teh process of tryuing to find a publisher. I have read them, but it was partly an accident aht thsi is how I ended up, and it is always possible I shall write other kinds of work. 

D:Come scenario delle sue opere letterarie ha scelto la Roma Imperiale perché?

  I chose to write about the Romans speocofally beacuse no-one else in England was doing that period at the time. I wanted to find my own subject, to be original  (It is a sorrow to me that there are now so many copycats). The preciue period of vespasian’s ROme came about because I needed to make pubishers feel there was somethign that readers could identify with – and Vespasian not only built the Colosseum, which everybody knows, but he was a participant in teh Roman Invasion of Britain under CLaudius. The first ROman novel I wrote is in fact called ‘The Course of Honour’; it is not a detective novel but the love story of Vespasian and Antonia Caenis.

D:Lei ha passato tredici anni a lavorare come impiegata statale. Cosa ricorda di quegli anni e come è stato passare a fare la scrittrice?

I don’t regret having a prior career. I think all authors should do ‘real work’ before they start writing so they know what life is like for the majority. I practiced my drafting, learned to deal with people, and learned a lot about how society is organised. I see the Romans as the great bureaucrats, so this was helpful!

D:Come si prepara una volta che decide di scrivere un giallo?

I research the subject, write a short synopsis, and start.

D:Come nascono le storie dei suoi romanzi? Da dove prende ispirazione?

Different novels have different inspirations. Some come from a place, some from a group in society, some from an idea in law or some other aspect of Roman life.

D:Cosa è più importante: la storia, la trama o i personaggi, o creare il suspance?

All of those are important and in different books, they will apply to a greater or lesser extent. What I always insist, however, is that you are awriting a novel. The professionall skills of a novelist are required (it is not enough to be a professor of history!)

D:Ci parli della sua giornata tipo, in quale ora del giorno preferisce scrivere?

One of the most difficult aspects of writing about any historical period is making the ‘tone’ right. It has to sound sufficiently ancient but must not be too quaint. You have to avoid anachronisms that jar with teh reader, yet make the work flow easily as it is read. I always point out that the ROmans spoke Latin, so anything I do is some kind of ‘translation’. PLus, we don’t actually know how people at street level, as opposed to the elite who were educated, spoke. I try to devise a way of sounding that will convince people – thoguh not eveyone approves. You can never please everyone, and some people have preconceptions that cannot be moved.

D:Molti la paragonano ad Agatha Christie lei cosa pensa?

I don’t believe I write much like Christie – except when I do it deliberately. ‘Ode to  Banker’ (which has not yet been published in Italy, I think) has some deliberate references to Dame Agatha, with a ‘body in teh library’ and a scene where all the suspects are formally brought together to decide who really committed teh crime. 

Il Nobel per la letteratura, questo anno è stato vinto da Doris Lessing, una scrittrice importante che ha scritto molto per le donne. Lei cosa pensa, conosce Doris Lessing? Hai letto qualche libro?

Yes, of course I know Doris Lessing and ealier this year I heard her speak. I think it’s sad that so few women wrioters have been acknowledged by the Nobel judges, and taht Doris Lessing had to wait so long – when really her most important work was written a long time ago. Ingeneral, thoguh, I believe there is too much snobbery in publishing. Readers gain more plasure and more insight from authors who are never reviewed, never regarded highly by the ‘literary press’ and who never win prizes.

D:Quali sono i suoi autori preferiti?

I like to read history and biography. IN novels I only enjoy books where there are a reasonable number of female characters, and I prefer them to have a sense of humour. Such qualities are rare!

D:In Italia molti giovani scrivono romanzi e provano a bussare nelle varie case editrici, ma non trovano risposta e si arrendono. Cosa secondo lei devono fare?

Any would-be writer has to realise that getting published is very hard. They need to be original, to write very strongly – and to keep going. I don’t think anyone should be an author until they are 35, or what do they have top write about? You have to live first. In teh meantime you can practice good prose. Then in England it is better to foind an agent first, asd publishers will then take you seriously and the agent knows where to place your work, and how tog et you a good contract so you are treated as you deserve.

D:Il suo stile di inglese britannico fu inizialmente criticato dagli editori Americani. Lei come risposta continua a difendere il suo stile britannico è un sfida?

In my work? I haven’t had as mnay problems as your question suggests as my AMerican editors have generally been reasonable people. However, a question came up once about a particular word that made me think hard about a system that is used of ‘translating’ British English for American readers. I used to accept that but I decided that Americans ought to open their minds just as we in Europe open our minsd to their culture.
I thank her a lot of lady Davis for me has been a great honor

La ringrazio molto signora Davis per me è stato un grande onore


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