During the summer, I read an article about Italian horror and came across Alda Teodorani’s name. From Massa Lombarda, Italy, Teodorani now lives in Rome. She’s part of a wave of Italian writers called the “young cannibals” (described by some as bringing a “punk meets horror splatter sensibility” to fiction). In addition to works of horror she's known for her gialli (thrillers) and erotic fiction. She’s sat on panels with Dario Argento, had introductions to her novels written by Valerio Evangelisti, and thrived in a male-dominated genre.
There aren’t too many women known for writing horror in Italy. As a writer myself, I was curious to read Teodorani’s work. I entered a contest she had going and was lucky to win one of her books. When her novel Belve arrived I cracked it open and dove inside. I entered a strange, wild world where Cinecittà (the major Italian film studio in Rome) is a settlement governed by corrupt politicians in a post-apocalyptic world where alien creatures prey on humans, and so do vampires like Marilyn Monroe, and some noteworthy others.
Alda Teodorani was kind enough to answer a few questions about being a woman horror writer in Italy and some other questions about Italy and Halloween.
JJ: In my opinion there’s not much difference between men and women who write horror. As a woman horror writer, what do you think, Alda?
AT: I feel the same, that there’s not much difference. Probably because a woman who writes horror, something that’s not so common at least in Italy, has a different point of view on writing from women who write in other genres, granted that there is a difference in masculine and feminine writing. But it’s not about using muscle. My writer friend, Patrizia Pesaresi in her classes presents stories written by both men and women to her students. She challenges students to guess which are the stories written by men and which are the ones written by women. All the students make mistakes. Even I guessed wrong!
JJ: Many women in the U.S. feel it’s more difficult for women to publish horror. Some use pen names to mask the fact they’re women. In Italy I imagine it’s even more difficult possibly because culturally Italy still holds onto strong patriarchal family values. Has it been more difficult for you as a woman in a sea where most of the writers are men to publish your work?
AT: No, I’d say the opposite. There’s a lot of sympathy and curiosity towards a woman who writes in the horror genre, a genre usually reserved for male writers. In the past, pen names were used by the writers of gialli (thrillers). But so many years have passed and it’s no longer like that. If we wanted to talk about rivalry amongst writers, that’s not a question of gender!
JJ: I read your novel Belve (Wild Beasts) in which the main characters are extraterrestrials. They’re like immigrants who’ve arrived on a foreign planet. They have a werewolf feel. But they aren’t creatures like werewolves. They’re more like cats, at least on the outside. Inside they’re pretty darned human. How did you think of the idea for the alien creatures?
AT: I actually dreamed about these two aliens, two creatures who come from another planet. I believe the dream came from my love of cats! The idea of immigrants in Belve is seen more in a social sense. They don’t arrive on the Earth by chance. They come after civilization’s practically wiped itself out. As a writer, and as a writer of very powerful, “uncomfortable” themes (even today one publisher says that my book is too disruptive, too edgy, to be published with other books in their line), I feel a little bit like the extraterrestrial character Brin, a bit different, a bit “foreign,” and my voice and intentions a little difficult to understand. But my readers encourage me to keep on writing.
JJ: Cats in the U.S. have nine lives. In Italy they only have seven lives. I always wondered what was up with the difference. Do you have any ideas about that?
AT: Well…in the U.S. everything’s bigger and more modern. Maybe with technological progress we should start adding lives to cats because they deserve many more than seven!
JJ: Halloween will be here in a couple of weeks. It’s my favorite holiday. In Italy I know you don’t traditionally celebrate Halloween. But November 1 and 2 are important days in Italy (November 1: tutti i santi. November 2: tutti i morti). How do Italians usually celebrate the first and second of November? Does your family have any customs you celebrate during that time?
AT: My family has never had customs as far as holidays go. We’ve all always been allergic to celebrations even though I wouldn’t know how to explain why. As far as Halloween goes, it’s such a fun holiday, so much so that in Italy, where traditionally it never existed, we’ve adopted it. I’ve dedicated a part of my book Incubi (Nightmares) to Halloween. In Italy for the first and second of November Italians pay respect to relatives who’ve passed away by visiting cemeteries, usually in their hometowns, and so there are some vacation days from school. I take advantage of this time and go to visit my family in Massa Lombarda, near Imola.
JJ: Your writing hasn’t been translated to English. In the future will we see some of your work translated for those who don’t read Italian?
AT: I’d very much like an English-speaking audience to be able to read my work, but for an author who finds it difficult to compromise like me, it’s hard to work with the larger publishers who export their books to foreign countries.
But I do believe that electronic publishing and e-books are a means of being read in other countries. Like how you found me through Facebook. My story Naples is available in English that my friend from NewYork, Renzo Balducci, translated.
JJ: Thank you, Alda Teodorani, for being my guest!
For a chance to win a copy of Alda Teodorani’s short story Naples, all you have to do is leave a comment! Be sure to include your email address.
If you’re interested in learning more about Alda Teodorani, please visit her website at http://www.aldateodorani.it/, and find her author page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/ALDA-TEODORANI/59639996984
Congratulations to winner, Dora Dee!
Congratulations to winner, Dora Dee!