Monday, August 29, 2022

Incubi & Succubi Paperback by Aldo Quagliotti -- Author Interview


Aldo Quagliotti

Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the personal you.

I grew up in a tiny village in Northern Italy called Desenzano. I was a lacustrine creature for most of my childhood until I started travelling around Europe and lived in Austria, Cambridge, and Peterborough before establishing myself in London, where I’ve been for the last 5 years. The common denominator of all my peregrinations has always been writing. I started venturing out into competitions back in 2007, back in Italy, where I was published in several anthologies such as “Il Suono Del Silenzio,” “I Pensieri Della Buonanotte,” “La Donna.” In 2019 I published my first collection of poems in English, called “Japanese Tosa,” followed by “Confessions of A Pregnant Man,” and now – finally, “Incubi & Succubi!” In the meantime, I have been lucky enough to have walked onto different stages in London, like Flo vortex, Paper Tiger, Poetical Word. My poems have been chosen to be part of national and international webzines, magazines, podcasts, and installations. It has been fantastic to see my verses breezing and rippling, travelling the world from USA, Canada, Ireland, Brazil, and India! They have seen places I haven’t been yet, and this is sensational! As a foreign author, I believe I’ve had an enormous privilege to have my heart aligned with a smoldering desire to experiment with words and sounds I didn’t master from the beginning. It’s been a work-in-progress, always trying to exude my visions without losing them in translation. I’ve been wrestling with the perpetual typos of my soul - trying to let myself go the call of inspiration, hoping it wouldn’t be a Svengali! And I must admit, this has been the bit I’ve always treasured, especially because I love languages and read and write in English, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

What inspired you to author this book?

My book was born in the midst of the Pandemic, it would simply be my journal when everything was deeply uncertain, and everyone was sculpting an alternative reality whilst stuck in their own quotidianly. If the only way out was through, I had no choice but to follow the diagonal way and let my thoughts metamorphose and take over. I remembered being thunderstruck by a book by Craig Yoe called “Sexology.” The story of the demons called Incubi & Succubi that nightly flirt with us got me molecularly connected to the dreams and nightmares that my brain was propelling non-stop. I was writing every day, and my ideas would get lost in recipes, appointment reminders, and even toilet paper, so I decided to note them down in a notebook to monitor those unpredictable waveforms - a sort of dram journal for those visions that I couldn’t escape. My third collection blossomed like this as a potential answer to all those questions swarming around my head. How can we shape our minds to escape the savagery of these dark times? How can we train our imagination to create alternatives? How can we discipline our spirit to enjoy these moments of pleasure?

Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?

When the book was concluded and an author feels the endpoint, somehow it was amazingly liberating! I remember texting my sister, asking her to create its book, and giving her carte blanche. We spent a lot of time talking about shortcomings and fears, panicking that COVID would be the final stage of the concept of humanity we had known. Was it all about to end? What would be a great season finale if not having a creature out there with my poems and her illustration? That felt right, and one week after our phone conversation, she sent me this cover, which is deeply inspired by an oil painting by Swiss artist Henry Fuseli called “The Nightmare.” I wanted the demon to be rigorously crouched on her naked body - to show vulnerability and the beauty of the human body exposed and revealed, fragile and compact, probably mutated into something else forever after two years of virus and variations.

Who has been the most significant influence on you personally and as a writer?


Reading! I have always been in love with poetry because of its anarchic nature, its power to evoke without revealing, steering philosophy into spirituality, and the perfect connection paving the way for understanding. I have always loved reading so much; the meaning of life per se has been played through the electric amplification of all the essays I’ve devoured with gusto! I wouldn’t be the person I am if I hadn’t spent most of my afternoons reading Melville, Emily Dickinson, Montale, Alda Merini, Antonia Pozzi, Poe, Tolkien, Aldo Busi, Salinas, Saramago, and so on. They planted the seed of doubt in my head. I have dragged this uncertainty forward, creating my gossamer spiderweb of beauty through essays, biographies, and horror books. Before the pandemic, I also attended spoken word venues in the last few years. It was generally surprising to get inundated by so much talent and many variations of poetry! I found myself in the wrong place all the time, but that would teach me a lot about the endless formulas people would embrace to convey their artistic expression. Even if I didn’t always appreciate the poets on the stage, I would always come back enriched and questioned, and that’s something I love! Also, Love! I’m an advocate of this feeling, and I’m incredibly passionate about what I do. I feel, so a shoutout to my boyfriend. He is a constant source of inspiration for me.

What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome to get this book written?

I can’t remember a specific challenge with the writing process - if not the usual chaotic input that would lead me to throw up thoughts everywhere (but later on, I grouped them all and identified a fil rouge for a concept poetry collection). An obstacle was definitely when my previous publishing house demanded to change the cover because it would contravene the code of conduct. I got very hurt by that decision! I couldn’t negotiate the cover, not only because it was my sister’s hard work but also because I loved it, but mostly because it would be a medieval way to reiterate that female bodies can’t be shown, and we are fed up with this witch purge! So, I took it on the chin and walked elsewhere, even if I knew this would mean waiting for 6 months to find the right one again that would believe in my work. It worked out, and I’m glad I stuck to my decision.


It's hard to describe your own work, but borrowing the words of my publisher, “This is a work that rejuvenates the depleted, those demons feeding on you and haunting you. So far, I have received some lovely feedback, with people saying things like, “His imagery is profoundly inspired and at times pretty awkward, even when he veers away from grammar rules and opts for prosaic text. His guttural poetry is certainly not for everyone,” or “There is a dark subtext that rubs shoulders with a quirky sense of humor and some hopeless romanticism. Highly recommended.”

I like to think that everyone can relate to my work. Still, if I had to identify a potential target, maybe I would say the outcasts, the so-called minorities. Definitely, the LGBQT+ community, people who have crossed similar paths or they have found themselves unprotected by our society.


What do you consider your greatest success in life?

I’m happy that three different publishing houses supported my publication and believed in my talent. I would have never considered bending the rules and submitting my work to a vanity press (and sadly, this is more and more common as a practice by emerging writers) because it wouldn’t have made sense for what I was trying to achieve, which is a connection with a potential audience. My biggest success has been overcoming my paranoia and insecurities and letting it go, even when It’s not perfect or immaculate. It’s still what I am to the purest form.



What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in your genre?


It’s tough to answer this question - especially without falling off into a narcissistic statement! But what I truly believe and can guarantee from my end is that everything I write doesn’t aim to fit anywhere specific or to please anyone or any previous agreement. I write because I can’t live without tracking my steps and fueling my imagination; my existence would be meaningless if I didn’t aspire to understand why I am here and what I’m destined to do. Having toured many poetic nights, I can say that this would already be something setting me apart from many other authors, who I don’t believe are fully honest when they either write or perform. Their attention would be addressed to the applause or recognition. Luckily, I have never worried about taming my verses beforehand to tailor their echo to people’s reactions.