Friday, October 16, 2015

Interview with Augustine Sam, author of The Conspiracy of Silence

When did you pursue writing as a career? 

I had a passion for literature when I was a kid. I grew up in a town steeped in tradition and storytelling, so I was enthralled by folktales from a very young age. 
I remember that we kids used to spend the evenings dancing in the moonlight and listening to historical sagas that really fascinated me. But what inspired me to start writing was my first literature textbook in school, which coincidentally was a novel set in the port city where I grew up. It was the story of a one-eyed man who spent his days and nights at the harbor contriving different kinds of mischief that captivated the local population. I had seen him at the harbor a few times when I was a kid, so reading about him in the literature textbook triggered my fascination with storytelling and gave me a whole new insight into how the written word can actually capture reality.  

What inspired your book, The Conspiracy of Silence? 

The Conspiracy of Silence was inspired by a play I wrote for the radio many years ago. It was a short play about an entertainer wrongfully accused of murder and the only person alive who knew he did not commit the crime was his sister. 
When the play was aired I felt that it was too short to convey the kind of emotions that should naturally accompany such a tense plot. But I didn't do anything about it for years. After a long period of 'mental fermentation' I was ready to approach it from a mature, and perhaps, more interesting standpoint; so I developed the plot into a fast-paced thriller with a lot of suspense and legal elements mainly because of my fascination with the legal process.   

What’s your writing environment like?

Very ordinary, I'd say. I write mostly in my study in the evenings since I have a day job. It's actually a simple process, I sit in front of the pc, listening music or news broadcast on the radio while staring at the screen until I come up with a satisfactory opening line. This seeming ritual provides just the right kind of 'distraction' that helps me construct a scene in my mind while pretending to be interested in something else. It lightens the pressure and makes the writing process rather pleasurable.

What projects are you currently working on?

My current project is a mystery trilogy. I am working on the first part now and it is a partial reconstruction of a story I suspended earlier on to enable me concentrate on my poetry collection, Flashes of Emotion, which was released on St. Valentine' Day this year and was selected as Finalist in the 2015 International Book Award. 

Why do we read fiction?

Sometimes we read fiction to 'escape' and sometimes we do so to be entertained and to be informed because fiction, in manifold ways, gives us valuable insights into many of life's realities.

What's your favorite book?

I have more than one favorite book. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, for example, is one. The name of the Rose by Umberto Eco is another, and of course, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, to mention just three.

If you could say one thing to a fledgling writer, what would it be?

Invent your style. Listen to everything but only take what is useful to you. Aim at the sky so you might hit the tallest tree. 

And if you could give one piece of advice about life, what would it be?

It'd be an Oscar Wilde quote: "Be yourself; everyone else is taken."

Author Bio:

Augustine Sam is a bilingual Italian journalist and an award winning poet. A member of the U.K. Chartered Institute of Journalists, he was formerly Special Desk editor at THISDAY newspapers, an authoritative Third World daily first published in collaboration with the Financial Times of London. He later became correspondent for central Europe. His poems have been published in two international anthologies: The Sounds of Silence & Measures of the Heart. One of his poems, Anguish & Passion, was the winner of the Editors’ Choice Awards in the North America Open Poetry contest, USA.

Augustine’s debut novel, “Take Back the Memory,” a contemporary Women’s fiction, released last year, was awarded a Readers’ Favorite 5-star medal. His second book, “Flashes of Emotion,” a collection of poems, was selected as finalist in the 2015 International Book Award contest.

Augustine lives and works in Venice.


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