The first question that came to my mind, after speaking with Francesca T Barbini for the first time was, do you have a time machine and where can I buy one? People live busy lifestyles these days, and while most of them try to slow down, Francesca seems to embrace new projects as she goes.
EK: Writer, Managing Editor of the SFFN, founder of Luna Press; where is this energy coming from? FB: I guess I’m in love with life. There really aren’t enough hours in the day for all the things I would like to do! I find it cruel that our lifespans are so puny, when our thirst for knowledge and experience is so great. And of course, I hate regrets. So I said to myself, ‘Go try out all the things that inspire you.’ And I did and still do. The real interests stick and the rest falls by the wayside after a wee while. But, I am trying to slow down too, you know. Not getting any younger here!
EK: You just said ‘wee’. How much of an influence has Scotland been in your artistic life? FB: Tremendous, actually. When I moved to Edinburgh, from Rome, I brought with me my Mum Solema’s creativity – she used to make up stories for me all the time – and my Dad Luigi’s timekeeping skills. I was ablaze with the artistic buzz that jumped out at me from every street, throughout the year. Wherever I turned, whoever I met, I saw a spark. I had friends writing, producing plays for the Edinburgh Fringe, singing in pubs, doing stand-up comedy. It was like a jump-start for the soul. I started writing and never looked back.
EK: Next month will be the 4th anniversary since your first book was published: White Child, from the YA SF Tijaran Tales series. You have a total of six books published over the last six years. How has that journey been? FB: Hard and rewarding. From looking for a publisher to finding one, passing via self-publishing – a rollercoaster of sacrifices and satisfaction. I guess when you see the final product in your hands you feel great – it’s an accomplishment. No one really knows the “behind the scenes” of it though but you. The tears, the blocks, the inspired moments. As with any other piece of art, it’s like giving birth – you’ve suffered for it. So there’s a big element of selfishness about creating in general, I’d say. The other part is made up by the readers or those at the receiving end of your work. It’s a symbiotic relationship. You don’t impose iton them, you just open a door – if they wish to, they’ll cross the threshold and step into your world.
EK: Tijaran Tales, published by Oloris, has reached book 4 this year with Tijara’s Heart. Are there more in the series?
FB: Two to go. Book 5 will be launched next year at Eastercon 2016, Mancunicon. Don’t know what the new cover will look like yet, but I’m always excited to see the new design. Jay Johnstone has created the covers for the series, and the kids love them. They are so colourful and daunting at the same time.
EK:The series has done really well so far. It seems that the idea of studying in space has struck a chord with your readers. Why space, and setting up camp on the Moon?
FB: Writers often write about the things they love, the things they wish they could do. I can’t imagine me going to space anytime soon, quite frankly, so all I have is my imagination. I built the school and the society I wanted to grow up in. An international place, filled with honour and goodwill – I know it’s kind of Star Trekish and naïve, but why not? There is conflict in my stories, of course there is. All humans carry a duality at their core, love and hate – you can’t separate these two from their vessel, or you’d have nothing left. Ultimately, we can’t have stories without conflicts really, otherwise we wouldn’t recognise ourselves in them and they would have no appeal.
EK: I happen to have a really good clip of your last book launch [Tijara’s Heart] made during Eastercon 2015.
FB: Oh noes! [laughs] I felt such a dork! So embarassing! And I sound like Mario Bros!
EK: It is fun to watch and the audience appreciate sincerity. It was your first proper book launch. What was it like?
FB: A big learning curve, I guess. I thought that meeting classes after classes of pupils during “Meet the Author” events would prepare me somewhat! I’ve been on convention programmes for a while now – my first panel appearance at Loncon3 was terrifying – but this was my first official book launch. No one tells you what to do, so I had to swing it a bit. I took some questions then they asked me to read from the book.
EK: And you weren’t prepared!
FB: Nope! Thankfully they liked the section I picked on the spot… well, after a couple of frantic minutes more likely. Then there is the “great embarrassment” ending!
EK: Like I said, people need genuine too. And of course, our readers can watch it in the clip below.
FB: Did you keep the 50 Shades of Harry Potter bit?