We’re off to beautiful Sardinia today (wouldn’t that be nice!) to meet #AuthorInTheSpotlight Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli. Let’s start off by finding out a little about her.
Hi Joanne, and greetings to your readers! As you can see, I have three names, but everybody calls me simply Carla. I’m Sardinian; I live in Cagliari, which is the capital of Sardinia (an Italian region, but also the second largest island in the Mediterranean). I have a graduation in Life Sciences (biology) and I’m a former university researcher and tutor, but in 2004, I changed my career. I became a translator and a web copywriter, and then an author (since 2012). I’m all of this now, plus since 2016, I’m teaching at university again, but this time in a totally different field: self-publishing.
Actually, for some years (2005-2017), I also worked occasionally in the music business as tour and booking manager, but that’s another story. Moreover, I love everything that is space related.
You know, I have a lot of interests.
What inspired you to start writing?
I started imagining stories as a teenager. I had the impression that by writing them somehow they became true, at least in my mind, since the memories they generate are even more vivid than those from what happens to me in real life. It’s a feeling that I still have today and it’s the reason why I write.
Since I am a cinema enthusiast, I initially enjoyed writing screenplays. Later, I switched to fan fiction. It wasn’t until 2008 that I started writing my first original novel: L’isola di Gaia (which means: The Isle of Gaia). I completed it in December 2011, but then I published it in 2014 (available in Italian only, for the moment): it was my seventh published book.
Tell me about your journey to publication
My first novel was science fiction, a genre that is considered quite a niche in Italy. There are few publishers specialised or interested in books in this genre. Fortunately, 2011 was also the year of the “ebook revolution” in Italy, because it’s when Amazon started selling Kindles and ebooks in my country. That created new opportunities for authors in non-mainstream genres to publish their books and reach a readership that was hungry of those genres.
So I started writing and publishing a hard science fiction series (i.e. whose science was plausible) titled Red Desert (it’s mostly set on Mars), which became quite popular and allowed me to be invited as guest to several book events in Italy and abroad, including Salone Internazionale del Libro (Turin) and Frankfurter Buchmesse.
In the same period (2012), I also started writing thrillers, the first of which was The Mentor (original title: Il mentore). When I published it in 2014, it started selling very well in Italy, and that drew the attention of Amazon Publishing, which offered me to buy the English translation rights. The first English edition of The Mentor was published in 2015 and quickly became No. 1 in the Kindle Store in the USA, UK, and Australia, reaching over 170,000 readers around the world.
Frankly, it was totally unexpected, also considering that writing thrillers was just a kind of experiment to me.
A few years later, when Amazon Publishing stopped pushing the book, I asked and obtained my translation rights back, then I started working on a new, better translation, this time in British English. In fact, being Amazon Publishing an American publisher, the first one was in American English, which was quite bad given that the story is set in London.
In the meantime, I had written and published two sequels to The Mentor in Italian, thus creating a trilogy: The Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy.
In a nutshell, what is your book about?
The Mentor is a crime and psychological thriller set in London between 2014-2017, featuring two main characters: DCI Eric Shaw and a woman called Mina. The former is the chief investigator of a forensic team at Scotland Yard, but also so obsessed by his job that sometimes he tampers with the evidence to make sure the culprits go to prison. The latter is a serial killer.
The problem is, she’s very close to him.
During the investigation of the death of some known offenders, Eric starts suspecting that Mina is the person he’s looking for, but doesn’t want that to be true.
At the same time, the reader can read her blog and, therefore, is full aware that she actually is the killer. Only the reader doesn’t know who Mina really is.
As I said, The Mentor is book 1 in a trilogy, and it is mostly about discovering Mina, her past and her motivations, and at the same time, seeing how Eric behaves before his suspects against her. The two remaining books, which will be published respectively in February and May 2023, are about the psychological journey Eric goes through after what happens at the end of The Mentor.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Usually, the title is the first thing I define when a new idea for a book dawns in my mind. The mentor is Eric himself, because it’s the way Mina considers him in her problematic mind, even when committing her crimes, although he’s actually a very good cop. But she’ll explain more about it towards the end of the novel. I don’t want to spoil this bit to the readers. 🙂
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I’m not writing anything new at the moment. I’ve taken a long break from writing to dedicate to the translation of the trilogy. I’m currently working on preparing the other two books (Syndrome and Beyond the Limit) for publication.
What one book would you recommend to a friend and why?
That’s a very difficult question. It depends on the friend’s favourite genre(s).
Anyway, my favourite author is Thomas Harris, so if my friend likes thrillers and I have to choose one book, it would be Hannibal (supposing that they know the story of The Silence of the Lambs). In general, I think that Harris’s books have the merit of making people question what good and evil really is. I love when you feel so close to a character that you come to realise that good and evil aren’t absolute concepts. There are so many shades in both of them. And sometimes what’s good or evil in fiction depends on the point of view of the characters. That’s what I call the subjectivity of good and evil, and Hannibal is one of the best examples on how you can successfully show that in fiction.
What are you reading just now?
Although I’m not reading much lately, there’s a book on my bedside table now, and I’m halfway through it. It’s “Great North Road” by Peter F. Hamilton. It’s a science fiction novel set in the future, but also a thriller. I love the way Hamilton is able to move so many characters and create such a credible, complex fictional world, even though it’s really so far from reality.
Is there a book you’d love to see made into a film?
Actually, not really. I mean, I can hardly remember a film taken from a book I read that I really liked. Of course, that’s because the world we all imagine from a book is much more complex than what you can see in a film. It’s also a matter of length.
On the other hand, I usually like very much films taken from books I didn’t read and I enjoy very much read them after watching the film.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
They can find me at http://www.anakina.eu, which is my English website, but I’m also on most social networks, like Facebook (www.facebook.com/RitaCarlaFMonticelli), Instagram (www.instagram.com/ladyanakina), Twitter (www.twitter.com/ladyanakina) and Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/ladyanakina).
I’ve also created a page for the Detective Eric Shaw Trilogy at http://www.anakina.net/ericshaw.
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Oh, that’s another tough one!
You know, I tend to read books where the characters often risk their lives, whist I’m such a quiet person.
Well . . . er . . . on second thought, there’s one: Caroline Penvenen (or Enys, depending on the book) from the Poldark Series.
I can’t say the exact book where I would like to be because I have the whole story of the series in my head. (Besides, this is a typical case in which I watched the TV series, and then I read the books. And I loved both.)
Why? Well, she’s such a clever and independent female character in a historical period where women were hardly independent. Of course, being a rich heiress made things easier to her . . . and more appealing for me to imagine myself in her shoes. Ha ha!
Thanks so much for joining me Carla.
I’ve enjoyed reading about your writing and some of your favourite books.
The Mentor is available in paperback, hardback and ebook.
You can order a copy of the book here: The Mentor