Author Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli is an author that calls Sardinia, Italy, home. She has quite a full plate of activities as she is involved in things from web development, biologist, writer, and so much more. It’s actually surprising that she had time to write Red Desert Point of No Return but we are fortunate writing is one of her many talents. You can find more about her in her English site at Anakina on blogspot.com. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook as well. Her home site is found here.
Question 1: What inspired you to write Red Desert – Point of No Return?
It was autumn 2011. I was completing the first draft of my very first novel, which I’m finally going to publish in November (in Italian), and at that time I was reading a novel by Robert Zubrin (the founder of the Mars Society) titled “First Landing”, which was about Mars manned exploration and colonisation. In the same period there was the launch of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. So in general it was a period in which I was keeping myself interested with Mars. Just after “First Landing”, I read “The Case for Mars” (non-fiction) by Zubrin. Then I completed that first draft, it was December, and I was looking for an idea for a short story or a novella that I wanted to publish on Amazon KDP, which had just arrived to Italy, just to try this publishing platform.
And there it was when an image appeared in my mind. There was an astronaut driving alone in the Martian desert. I didn’t know whether that was a man or a woman. He/she had a limited oxygen supply and I was wondering what he/she was doing there alone. That was when I started imagining the story of the Red Desert series; “Point of No Return” is just the first book of four.
My intention was to write a series of novellas, but then the story grew so much that the other books became novels (the third and fourth ones are quite long novels).
“Point of No Return” isn’t exactly the beginning of the story, actually it is in the middle of it. The whole series is written in a non-chronological order.
Question 2: Is there any significance to the name names of your main characters?
Not the name but the initial. Most main characters (protagonist or co-protagonist) on my books have a name starting with A, like my nickname Anakina. So the protagonist of “Red Desert” is called Anna Persson (she is Swedish).
Don’t ask me why I do like that. I really don’t know!
Question 3: During the writing process did you find yourself thinking about any of your memories?
Of course yes. I continuously take inspiration from my memories. The “write what you know” rule definitely applies here but in a more general meaning then most may think. There is a bit of me, my memories, my life in all characters. Sometimes it’s the memory of a place, or of a particular feeling, or of someone I know. Some experiences or features of many characters are taken from real people I have met in my life, sometimes just for one day.
I take all my memories, whether they are coming from real experiences or from those coming from books I’ve read or films/TV series I’ve watched, and I freely use them in my books.
For instance, when a character stands by the sea and I have to describe what they feel (what they can heard, smell, touch, but also their emotions), I just use my own memories regarding a similar situation but at the same time I identify with the character, so I adapt what I remember to the situation narrated in the book.
Question 4: What were some of your favorite books growing up?
I remember that when I was a child I read “Momo” by Michael Ende. That book really affected me. It was about some entities stealing time from your life without you even noticing it. That was scary considering my age, but I still consider the idea quite scary even now. That was the very first book I couldn’t put down until I had finished it.
I also read a lot of novels by Agatha Christie when I was a teenager. I loved them.
Question 5: Do you hear from fans of the book, and if you do what do they say?
Fortunately, my books sell quite well in Italy and I’m continuously in touch with my readers mostly on Facebook and Twitter, many of them have written to me privately. Well, they say a lot of different things. What I like most is when they tell me that after reading the series they had the impression to have learnt something about Mars and space exploration in general. There was a reader who thanked me because my series made him get interested about space exploration again after a long time.
I also like when female readers contact me. Most of them are not into science fiction normally and they are happy to have given a try to my books because they made them discover a new genre.
Question 6: What was the feeling like when you saw the very first printed version of your book?
Actually I published my first printed book only on December 2013. It was an omnibus of the Red Desert series. I did it because my readers asked for it. They wanted to have a hard copy of the series and possibly to be able to give it as gift for Christmas.
Personally I wasn’t particularly thrilled. The book for me is what’s inside not the hard thing.
Instead, a great moment was when I first saw the Italian version of “Point of No Return” on the Kindle Store and definitely when I received the very first review.
Question 7: Do you continue to write?
Of course! After the Red Desert series, which I have written in Italian between 2012 and 2013, I’ve already published another novel, a crime thriller titled “Il mentore” (The Mentor), on May. My next novel will be published on November 2014. I’m currently writing the third draft. This is the novel I’ve been writing back in 2011. It’s titled “L’isola di Gaia” (The Isle of Gaia) and it’s in the same universe of the Red Desert series.
One day they will be hopefully published in English, too.
Moreover I wrote an action thriller in 2013 (during NaNoWriMo), which I’ll publish in 2015. I’m planning to write more books in the very next future. It’s my intention to publish at least two books per year in Italian.
Question 8: What is the message you are want people to take away from the book?
I don’t like books with a morale. I don’t feel I have any title to send a message. The main topic of my books is the subjectivity of good and evil. There aren’t real heroes or villains in my stories. All characters are in a kind of shadow zone. Good is what the character holding the point of view in a specific scene thinks is good for them. You tend to find yourself agreeing with them, in most cases, even if what they think may be morally bad in real life.
The only “message” of my books is the absence of a real message. Everybody is right and wrong at the same time. I always keep a neutral position so as each reader is able to choose what they prefer, their own message.
It’s a way of showing the importance of differences and the need to respect them, to see the good and the bad in each of them without any general judgement.
Question 9: If you could envision a future for your main character, what would it be?
I perfectly know the future of Anna Persson, but I really can’t say anything about it. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m going to publish another book in the same universe of the series. Actually the Red Desert series is the first part of a bigger saga called “Aurora”. It will include “The Isle of Gaia” and three more novels I’m going to publish by 2020. Their titles will be “Ophir”, “Sirius”, and “Aurora. Although Anna is the main character of the entire Red Desert series, the other books of the saga will have different protagonists. Anyway Anna will be definitely involved until the end of the saga. So, sorry, I can’t say what will happen to her!
Question 10: Who are those in the dedication of the book, and their importance to you?
Actually, there’s no dedication in my books, but there are some important acknowledges in the end matter. Beside the people working in my publishing team (test readers, beta readers, proofreaders, translation revisers for the English version and so on), I had to thank my partner Federico, who is continuously supporting me in this publishing adventure, and of course my parents, who became science fiction fans just for me.
The + 1 Question: If you had any one place in the world you could travel to for a book tour, where would that place be, and why?
Just one? That’s difficult.
One of the place I would love to go for a book tour, or just for tourism, is Australia. I don’t know why. I’ve never been there and it’s so far, so I’m curious to go there. I love travelling, I love visiting any place that I haven’t visited before (and even some places I have already visited), I love to learn about life and people there. I would spend all my life travelling if I had the chance.
A big dream of mine is to go cruising along the Antarctic Peninsula, but I doubt I can do a book tour there!