:: A kind gift to our readers from Stephen Gregory


the-cormorantEccezionalmente pubblichiamo la versione integrale del testo che lo scrittore Stephen Gregory ha scritto per Liberi di scrivere. Lo pubblichiamo in lingua originale per i lettori che leggono anche in inglese.

First of all, I’m really happy to be published in Italian, at last, and thank you for asking me your questions for your website.
Briefly, I’m an English novelist with seven books published.  I quit school-teaching in the 1980s (after working in various schools in England and Wales, in Algeria and Sudan) and I moved into a tiny cottage high in the mountains of Snowdonia, in north Wales.
My first three books (which some people have called my Snowdonia trilogy) were all written in Wales, and their setting and subject matter reflect the wild natural countryside, the mountains and the forests and the beaches I loved so much.
THE CORMORANT won the Somerset Maugham Award and was well received on both sides of the Atlantic, and then it was made into a gem of a film for BBC Wales, starring Ralph Fiennes.  THE WOODWITCH and THE BLOOD OF ANGELS followed, continuing the theme of a man coming to terms with his own flaws and weaknesses against a background of a bleak wintry landscape.
A few years later, I had a surprise phone call from Hollywood and was summoned out there to write a story and screenplay with the formidable and notorious director William Friedkin, at Paramount Studios.  It was a challenging and thrilling experience, and a steep learning curve for me.  The screenplay was completed, after a year of painstaking re-writing, but the project went into ‘development hell’ as they call it in Hollywood, and the film was never made.  However, only a few months ago the script has been picked up by a film maker in Bolivia, who is trying to finance the project with producers in Germany and Hollywood.
Yes, it’s taken over 30 years for an Italian publisher to show any interest in THE CORMORANT.  The book has already been into several editions in USA and has been translated into German and Polish.  Yes, frankly I’ve been puzzled by the lack of interest from other publishers in Europe, especially as the book attracted such a lot of attention from reviewers and as a film.
The plot?  I’ve been fascinated by birds and the countryside since I was a small boy, so when I moved to Wales in the 1980s I already a strong idea for the theme and action of a first novel.  The dual nature of the cormorant would be the perfect foil for a story about a young man coming from suburbia to the wet wintry mountains of Snowdonia … I’ve watched cormorants since I was child, wondering about the marvellous contrast of their dark, sinister outlines as they dry their wings in the wind and the sleek and silvery action of their diving and hunting underwater.
As a boy, I read TARKA THE OTTER by Henry Williamson, and then THE GOSHAWK by TH White (as well as his classic ONCE AND FUTURE KING), and I lost myself in a world of deep dark nature, a world of wild animals and birds.  These early influences are key to all of my books, including my more recent novels about man’s relationship with nature – THE WAKING THAT KILLS, then WAKENING THE CROW and PLAGUE OF GULLS.
Talking of gulls, yes I’m sure I was influenced by Daphne du Maurier’s book and Hitchcock’s film of THE BIRDS.  Furthermore, my most recent book PLAGUE OF GULLS takes the gulls as its central theme, set inside and around the 13th castle of Caernarfon in north Wales.  For a few summers I earned my pocket money as a tour guide in Caernarfon Castle (I must have been around the building more than a thousand times with tourists from all over the world) and my wife and I had a little house within the medieval walls of the town.  It was an inevitable progression for me to choose the place and the yelling, bullying flocks of gulls as subject matter for a novel.  And yes, PLAGUE OF GULLS would translate beautifully into Italian … it’s dark and funny and rude, great fun!
Yes, of course I’m interested in the link between books and film.  And I’m sure, like most book lovers, I nearly always prefer the book to the film, when I’ve seen a movie version of something I’ve enjoyed reading.  Of my other books, I think THE WOODWITCH would work wonderfully on a big screen … my rudest and most disturbing and challenging book, its impact would be intensely powerful.
These days I’m still teaching, nearly fifteen years as an English and French teacher out here in Brunei Darussalam, in faraway Borneo.  My students are local teenage girls, very funny and chatty and mischievous, a joy to be with – they keep me young in spirit!  But this December my wife Chris and I are returning to Europe and our lovely old house in Charente, France, an 18th century fortified farmhouse needing a lot of work …
Right now, the demands of school-teaching and planning our exit from Brunei are keeping me from a new writing project, although I have plans for a new novel which I will start once we are re-settled in France.  However, at the moment I have two screenplays in early development with different companies, and a crazy idea for a musical buzzing inside my head …

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