Yesterday I posted an interview with an artist here. Today I am back with another interview and it is a writer this time, who happens to be Chloe’s boyfriend. I met Justin when I met Chloe, and me and him shared a love for literature. Back then we both wrote poetry or short stories, but now Justin has published his first book! Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the launch but I look forward to getting my hands on the book and reading it!
Read the interview below…
What does your social background consist of, and to what extent would you say that this has shaped your writing?
I come from a working class background, born and raised in Ħamrun. Which I’m grateful for, because seeing as there was never any particular pressure for me to succeed or excel (the pressures of children in well-to-do families) I was free to explore my own random interests. Freedom is everything in life. Wealth can sometimes restrict freedom by adding stress and pressure.
What was the first piece of work which made you feel that you have become a ‘real’ writer?
It wasn’t a particular piece, it was more a theme. When I discovered my raison d’etre in literature: putting into verse the wondrous diversity of the world we live in. For centuries poets have been praising the glories of ancient Rome, gods, and anything religious. But I find the real world far more inspiring, and this has given me a direction, a personality as a writer.
What inspired you to write ‘Too many Sparrows in Zaragoza’ and why Zaragoza?
I was inspired by immortality. I’ll explain. For someone who doesn’t believe in an afterlife how is he to ensure life after death (apart from children): a body of work that will (hopefully) stand the test of time. Zaragoza because it is a city I have never been to, but has everything that I wanted: history, grand rivers and squares, bullrings and wondrous countryside in its outskirts.
Is this your first published work?
Yes, but it will be one of many. The next novel is nearly finished. Not counting the long editing process.
What genres are you into and are there any other styles you would like to experiment with?
I will read (or write) anything that’s inspiring. I don’t like to label preferences. Just as I don’t have preferences for blonde women or brunettes. I appreciate beauty in all its guises. But once I have a couple of novels under my belt I would like to return to my first love: poetry. I have a lot of poetry books I would like to publish. One of them is an updating of Erasmus Darwin’s grand work of nature and science: The Temple Of Nature.
Why should we read ‘Too many Sparrows in Zaragoza’?
It carries a message that, if appreciated, can change viewpoints. Life isn’t all work, stress, career, and all that. Life is full of innocence, openness, beauty, and depth. Dig up your forgotten passions and splash them across every facet of your life. To make life rich money is the last thing you need. This is what the novel says that no other novel has dared to bother even think.
Who would you say is your target audience?
Young people who are at the crossroads in life. I don’t claim to have any life-changing advice for them. But what I do say, through the novel, is before you decide on anything, take a holiday. See what happens.
What sort of literature do you read for leisure?
Mostly popular science. Although I am trying to get a bit more technical – as far as my brain allows. Reading about nature, the universe, and the laws behind them always gives me a new idea, or a new question to answer. At the moment I am reading Brian Cox’s Quantum Universe. A wonderful expose of the intricacies of the world. Is it too difficult to translate into literature? Never.
Do you have any pointers to share with the other young aspiring writers?
As human beings your brain has programmed you to be an imitative ape. But try your hardest to move away from the crowds, indulge in what genuinely inspires you, and you will never find yourself bereft of ideas. Also: abandon the Muse. Never await inspiration, that’s just procrastination. Seize the bull by the horns and write on your own terms.
Where will Justin Fenech, the writer, be in 10 years time?
Hopefully sitting in his beach-house, having a pint that has been paid for, along with everything else, by his literary royalties.
(No, girls. He’s taken.) But you can still read his book and let me know what you think of it!
I’d like to wish Justin the very best of luck with his new book and his career as a writer too. I just hope that maybe I’ll get an invite to a Sunday Barbecue at your beach-house some time…