I Will Love To Visit Western Africa - Katarina West (@WestKatarina)

  Katarina West, an Italian based novelist with 2 novels (Witchcraft Couture and Absoloute Truth For Beginners) to her credit, bares her mind on the inspiration behind her stories, her love for Africa as she teases on her 3rd novel, The Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice, scheduled for launching in December 2016, amongst other issues. 


 Let’s Meet You

Hi Alli, or ciao, as they say in Italy! Lovely to meet you.

What inspires your stories?

It can be anything and everything, from movies and newspaper articles to ideas and art. I rarely take my inspiration from real life. I have an idea, sometimes really vague, and I start from there. 

When did you started writing?

When I was about nine or ten. I’ve always told stories. To myself, or to anyone who cared to listen.

What are the challenges you face when writing a story?

Interesting question. It depends which manuscript version we’re talking about. If it’s the first one, just about everything is a challenge. But even afterwards, characters remain an overall challenge. To understand them, to develop them in the right direction. Also, keeping the plot polished, and well-structured, is always a challenge.

 It seems like Agents of Altruism wasn't a success, or was it that you didn't push it as you did for Witchcraft Couture.

It was an academic book, and the logic behind writing an academic book is different. Usually – unless it is being used as a course book in universities – only a handful of other people read the research you’ve done. So you publish those kind of books because they will remain in your CV, or because they will open doors to you, or because they will put you in contact with other people. But you don’t promote academic books the same way you would promote fiction.  
  What is your view and philosophy about life and magic?

You know what, Alli? You must ask me this after forty years! Because I still haven’t written enough to answer that question. And for me, writing is the only way to get viable answers.

What was the motivation behind your last book - Witchcraft Couture?

To talk about an artist who suffered from creative blocks, and in a way that I could use the Finnish mythology Kalevala, which inspired me.

 Quoting from WItchcraft Couture - “I drink coffee in gallons and it is just as indispensable for my work as paper and pencils". What brand of coffee do you love?

Lavazza. It’s an Italian brand. My stomach has been Italianized – I can only drink Italian coffee.

Quoting one of your previous comments - The response from Witchcraft Couture was absolutely wonderful, and it gave me plenty of inspiration to finish my second novel, will the response of Absolute Truth for Beginner determine if you'll write another or not?

As it happens, I’m already writing my next novel. It’s a story about angels and destiny and having it all – in your second life. It is called The Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice, and coming out in December 2016.

What if you wake to discover that you are obsessively addicted to literature?

What a wonderful addiction! Amazon would probably love that.

What else do we don't know about Katarina West?

My car is named Rocco, after the boxer Rocco in Visconti’s film. It’s a Suzuki jeep, but I’m sure that it has a soul, and it can read and write too! How well I understand those men who polish their cars on sunny Sunday mornings. I’d do it too, if I had some more time. 

Was there any other thing you vowed to be when you were much younger, apart from being a writer that you're yet to do?

Yes, I wanted to become an aid worker. Hence, ‘Agents of Altruism’ and a doctorate on that field. But Life decided differently, and I remained in Italy, and became a novelist. 

What else do you do apart from writing?

We live in a farmhouse where there is always something to do. Mowing, repairing, cleaning, fixing, feeding the animals. Apart from writing and family and country life, there really isn’t much more time left.

You once said that - It’s the excessive caffeine intake that makes you design well. Is Katarina considering art in pictures aside from words?

I used to paint. I even studied in Florence Academy of Fine Arts for a very short period of time. But if I must choose between words and art, I choose words, any time.

At what point would you consider someone or yourself a failed author?

Define it – what is a ‘failed author’? Isn’t that just a perception, impossible to measure in any possible way? So if you think you’re a failure, then you are a failure. Even if your books are bestsellers. 

Mentorship is very important in one's quest to the literary world, who are your mentees and do you have mentors?

I wouldn’t say I have mentors, but I do have contacts with fellow authors, and their support and encouragement means the world to me. 

How do you relax?

I go for a walk in the forest with my dog.

You really have interest in Languages, if you were to pick one African language. Which would it be? 

Oh, it would be Swahili, for sure. I even studied it for a brief period of time in Zanzibar. I lived with a local family, and they were so hospitable and kind to me that it was almost embarrassing. In the morning, for example, no one showered before I had showered, because they wanted to make sure that I – the guest – got some hot water. No, they were just so generous. And yes, I still remember some words in Swahili. Like, ninasema Kiswahili kidogo? Did I get that right? It’s a great language, so precise, like my own mother tongue Finnish.

Which African country would you love to visit and why?

There are so many! But I’ve never been to Western Africa. I’d like to see that part of Africa.

On a final note, what is your advise to upcoming authors?

Read and write, as much as you can, and every day, if you can. Plus don’t give up. As long as you keep writing, you can’t get lost.

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