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La Regina dei Sassi


La Basilicata vista dall'esterno: quattro chiacchiere con Paul Di Filippo

Tempo di lettura: 
5 minuti 19 secondi

About Matera, about Basilicata. Interview with Paul Di Filippo, author of  La Regina dei Sassi

1)I try to ask your eye on our little region, its heart, the Sassi of Matera, which are a testimony of ancient poverty that has become wealth. How did you get here? How did you choose this location?

As an Italian-American, I have a vast fondness for the land of my ancestors.  So whenever anyone from Italy contacts me for a project, I leap at the chance.  Some years ago, Giuseppe Granieri reached out to me with an offer to publish some work with the exciting new firm dubbed 40K.  Time went by, and Giuseppe changed jobs.  Now, wearing a different hat, he worked for the tourism council.  Imagine my wonderful surprise when he asked me to undertake a dream assignment, the gig of a lifetime.  Fly to Matera, absorb the ambiance of that city and the surrounding region, then write ten thousand words about my reactions, either journalism or fiction, which would showcase the region for the rest of the world.  A person would have to be insane to say no!

2) Matera is the place of spirituality with thousands of ancient legends: inspiration for your talent? As the whole of South Italy? A suggestion?

Having been to Italy only twice before--travel is expensive, and time is dear--I have not seen one percent of its wonders.  So Matera and Basilicata was unknown to me.  I tried not to do too much research in advance.  I wanted to arrive without any preconceptions.  When I got there, I was placed in the hands of two wonderful guides, Dora and Michele Capiello, of Ferula Viaggi.  They instantly and continuously opened my eyes to the deep history and beauty of the region.  I found an immediate sympathy.  The haunted atmosphere, combined with the present-day joy and culture, was pure inspiration.  The whole region is congenial to storytelling!

3) What difference between legend, thriller, fantasy story?

I think that legends and modern-day fantasy stories inevitably overlap each other.  Our ancestors were telling each other legends long before this type of tale became a marketing category, with the advent of Tolkien and LORD OF THE RINGS.  It is hard when constructing a fantasy story from scratch to imbue it with all the romance and archetypes of legend, because legends arise from the mass consciousness and have bee refined over centuries.  So we fantasy writers borrow when we can, and invent the rest and hope for the best!  As for thrillers, this genre is mainly thought of as realistic, such as the works of Robert Ludlum.  But I think the thriller mode can be blended with fantasy, and I tried to do some of that in my story of Matera.

4) Who is the queen of the Stones? By whom were you inspired?

Can I be permitted to say that Italy is full of beautiful women of all ages?  The various Jungian and Classical goddess archetypes are walking in our midst!  I conceived of an eternal woman who would be the living embodiment of the land.  If only Sophia Loren were still in her prime, I would have the perfect actress for the movie version.  Of course, Gina Lollobrigida would do as well!

5) Often the future is scary, Italians are very sentimental, like the past, would like to stop time. But the clock goes on, inevitably. It is the damnation of the time

When I write science fiction, I want to take an optimistic view.  We cannot deny that the whole planet faces many problems and crises.  But we must assume that life and civilization will continue in some good form--or else we would just commit suicide right now.  And attention to the past teaches us that we have faced many times in the past when things seemed dire.  Let's hope for the best, and soldier onward!

6) A small region such as Basilicata how can project into the future? Matera, in your opinion, can become Capital of Culture? As the work of writers such as yourself can help?

I live in the small city of Providence, Rhode Island (most famous as the birthplace of H. P. Lovecraft).  We have only 175,000 people in the smallest state in the USA, plus a bad economy.  Nevertheless, the city is a hotbed of music, innovation, art, education and fun.  (Partly due to many Italian-Americans, I am sure!)  Size is not a valid metric of success, only spirit and willpower and visionary inspiration.

7) What do you like about Italian culture?

I could be here all day naming things!  Every aspect of food, art, music, architecture, etc.  But most importantly, the people, their congeniality, humor, bravery and zest for life.

My friend in Sicily, the writer Claudio Chillemi, claims I am a barbarian for dusting my fish-accented pasta dishes with lots of romano and parmesan.
8) the digital connection can close the gap? We are still different that I live here and you who live overseas?

I hope that communication and creative ventures are facilitated by the internet.  It certainly made my trip possible.  But I do not wish to see a "global culture," a flattening out of regional differences.  My god, what a horrible and boring world that would be!

9) There will always be need of human passions or will come a time when we intelligences heartless?

So long as science does not tamper with the human genome, inserting changes which are passed on to the subsequent generations, then all will be well.  The human heart, brain and soul will continue in their eternal paths.  But there is a serious and real possibility that tampering will occur.  Then, who knows?  I have speculated in some fiction that maybe new and different emotions and capabilities will arise.  But if old virtues go extinct, the species will have lost a lot.

10) What do you bring with you, finally, of your passage in Basilicata?
I am resolved to return with my wife, Deborah Newton, to revisit all the friends I made, and see things I missed.  Maybe I can even have an adventure like my hero's!  But without so much danger!


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