Some may know the name, those who are a close part to the Wessex Scene, the student run magazine definitely will. With her charming smile and lovely personality she became a part of the magazine during the course of the last year, creating a video to show us the way in which Italian courses are taught and the student culture there. As well as the video she also helped out with some articles being a keen writer herself. Having just finished a BA in Italian Literature and Performing Arts, Valentina is currently attending her last year in a two-year MA in Film Studies. I’ve had the honour of getting to know Valentina, a student from Rome, Italy and now I’d like to introduce her to you.

Nicola Manuel: Studying Italian Literature in Rome must be quite an experience. Who is your favourite writer and why?

Valentina Signorelli: This is a very problematic question, especially because I constantly change my mind about it. I think I have learnt more about human existence from books rather than living in the phenomenal world. I can quote so many authors that I really can’t answer this question. Despite that, I have a top three, not necessarily in order of importance. First, I can quote Dante for his constant diving into human nature. Second I can quote Emile Zola for its focus on the impossibility of social redemption. Last but not the least, the Latin poet Lucretius for its lucid description of universal, inexorable doom of mechanism.

NM: Having been over to England quite frequently you must have gotten quite used to the culture and way of living here. What are the main differences between Rome and London?

VS: Well first of all every city in Italy is very different from each other because of the domination of many different foreign countries in the past. I have been living in Rome for almost 5 years and I have been in the UK several times. The lifestyle is quite similar in many aspects, especially the university activities. Although there are still some differences; Rome is very Mediterranean, it’s an open-air museum mixed with modern buildings and structures so it’s quite breath taking. What I appreciate the most about London is its multicultural quality, which belongs to Rome as well, even if this phenomenon in Italy is relatively more recent. Finally of course, the weather is completely different and it affects in particular on people’s mood. The mild temperatures and the steady presence of a glaring sunlight make people naturally positive, which I think is the main difference from England.

NM: You are clearly a keen writer having written for both your hometown main newspaper and of course the Wessex Scene. What in particular would you like to write about, having not written about before?

VS: Being a journalist is a very formative experience which has opened many opportunities during the last few years. Plus I have had the chance to meet so many people with so many different stories and backgrounds. Working as a screenwriter means that one of my main dreams is writing and shooting a video- inquiry about the life in world’s undergrounds. There are entire mobile cities under the ground level of the main metropolis that we all live everyday but we rarely stop and think about.

Wessex Scene, May 2012. Front cover by Piero Regnante.

NM: Are there any recent works of either literature or art that you admire at the moment?

VS: I have always been interested in art especially the contemporary. The main aspect I like about it is its nature of temporariness. That’s why I really admire street art in general, so I could quote Banksy for instance, and the phenomenon of Madonnari in Italy, which actually had a historical tradition of people who in the main squares realise their own interpretation of sacred art using only chalks.

Talking about Literature, I like American authors, such as Bret Easton Ellis and Don DeLillo even though contemporary literature is not my most favourite.

NM: Let’s talk about the book that you have published already! What an achievement to date to be proud of. The book is called ‘Mattia Nel Camino’. Firstly what does this translate to be in English and what prompted you to write your own story?

VS: The title can easily be translated in “Mattia in the chimney”. It’s a book for kids and Marco Borromei illustrates it. I had a story in my mind, and then my mum saw a writing competition and proposed me to participate. I wrote the story and so joined in with the competition. Unfortunately I didn’t win, but then I found a publisher. Now with my contract ending last month, I decided to personally translate it in English. So I’m looking for an English publisher now!

‘Mattia Nel Camino’ by Valentina Signorelli and illustrated by Marco Borromei.

NM: So I also hear that another possible book is coming our way. Is it possible for you to tell us a little about this new idea?

VS: The other book, which has already been published, is based on my BA dissertation. It has already been launched at the Horror Project Festival 2012 in Rome. It is about the analysis of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer with contemporary philosophy mainly related to the “Being-toward-Death” by Marting Heidegger, but also to Nietzsche, Shopenhauer, Vattimo, Freud, Lacan and the Feminist Film Theory.

NM: What advice would you give to a budding writer who would like to start writing their own book, or even their own article?

VS: Read a lot, think a lot and write impulsively; an intense of what Latin’s called “Labor limae” – review – is necessary. Of course this is not the only way, but it has been always useful to me. Being very updated allows creating a charming article, but I think that despite of an extreme specific knowledge, also a wide, interdisciplinary one helps to be critical and creative.

Time for that all-important quick round of questions to finish off the interview…

Italy or England? Both, it’s less about 2 hours by plane.

Acting or writing? Writing. I have never acted in my life.

Favourite book? The one I haven’t read yet.

Tea or coffee? Coffee

Beginning or ending? Beginning.

To contact Valentina Signorelli please write to:

She really is the loveliest of people and would be happy to say hello back. To also have a look at her writing for the Wessex Scene just visit their website too. If this doesn’t get you buzzing to get writing, reading or even to jump on a plane to visit Rome (because I sure want to) then maybe give it a read again.

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