For our “X Questions With” series, we’re speaking with talented individuals from around the world who have inspired us with their creativity and passion. If you have a story to tell or someone you’d like to see profiled, let us know in the comments or on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!
Today, we’re chatting with Clio Velentza, a talented creative writer who has a special knack for short fiction. For more from Clio, check out her Tumblr, Twitter or Instagram pages!
1) Please tell us a little about yourself
Name: Clio Velentza
City: Athens, Greece
Places Travelled: Ireland, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, France, Switzerland, FYROM, Belgium, England, New York, Netherlands, Wales, Austria
Passions: Books – I can’t remember a time not reading. Anything, really, I’m all for genre-hopping. I love museums and I visit them repetitively, especially my favorites: the National Archaeological Museum and the Benaki Museum. I have the luck to live in a city with an innovative and vibrant art scene, so I’m never short for variety in theatre, galleries and cinema. All these excite me and replenish me. I have a strong desire to travel often, and it brings me down if I can’t due to circumstances. My biggest joy is travelling (mostly on my own), and I hope to lead a life where I get to do that as much as I want; my bucket list is almost entirely places I want to see.
Education/Training: I studied Chemistry at the University, and afterwards took Postmodern Writing and Flash Fiction classes.
Favourite Quote: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison. It is a compass – many times I began a project simply with this quote in mind.
2) Browsing through your blog, it seems that you write a fair amount of “flash fiction.” Why does this brief format appeal to you?
I always loved short fiction. A turning point for me was two short fiction collections I read at an impressionable age: Karen Blixen’s Seven Gothic Tales and Somerset Maugham’s Collected Stories. Neither were micro fiction, but they taught me the wonders of the shorter form. Flash fiction has many appeals: to a reader, it can be consumed faster without losing any of its power, and it fits well with the brevity of online reading. To a writer, it’s the challenge of immediacy and compactness, the chance to pack the width of your story in a short space where every component is vital and requires delicate tinkering. Flash is visceral, it relies on strong imagery and we are drawn to it. It carries a lot of the power of the narrated story as it has always existed in human history.
3) How was it that you got into creative writing?
I wrote since I was a child. I attempted a couple of stories around the age of nine, then at ten I wrote my first poem. I think it was simply because I read a lot, it seemed natural to me to try my hand at something I loved. In high school I resumed writing and discovered that sense of joy. By then I was studying science full on – I loved science and a literary alternative never occurred to me. At University I slowly continued writing, taking my time and experimenting with it. I think those years when writing was something devoid of urgency, that I could happily immerse myself in, were very important. Throughout studying Chemistry, I also wrote some short stories, two novellas and a young adult novel that was never completed, while at the same time teaching myself the basics of writing as much as I could. Afterwards, when space opened up in my life, creative writing organically took a front seat, and I decided to pursue it.
4) Do you have a particular subject matter that you especially love writing about?
Although I like to experiment with genre and subjects, I’ve noticed that there are some themes that keep cropping up in my stories. Perhaps “love” isn’t the precise sentiment – it’s the themes that I’m not done discovering, that surface on their own. I’m often drawn to the concepts of mortality, fear, restlessness, humanity, death and sexuality. Mostly I find myself exploring interpretations of what it means to be human, often as opposed to a loose definition of non-human/monstrous. Speculative fiction has proved to be a fertile setting for me to work through this. Like Clarice Lispector writes, “Who hasn’t asked oneself, am I a monster or is this what it means to be human?” A large portion of the work I’ve done so far revolves around this question.
5) Why choose a Paperblanks journal for your writing?
I write almost all my first drafts by hand and I always keep a personal journal, so I constantly use notebooks. I love the physical act of writing, and I believe it deepens the bond between a writer and their work. I use only mechanical 2B pencils, and I’m very selective about the quality of paper I want.
Paperblanks fit my needs perfectly: the paper is sturdy, absorbent but doesn’t smudge, light but with the right amount of texture. My pencil moves effortlessly. And they’re lovely to touch and to look at. Jeanette Winterson said that dinginess is death to a writer: “To do something large and to do it well demands such observances, […] because they stave off that dinginess of soul that says that everything is small and grubby and nothing is really worth the effort.” When we have to compromise everywhere, a good notebook is such a luxury. My first Paperblanks was a Handstitched Tao, the Sunset Landscape – simply beautiful.
6) Has anyone, or anything, in particular inspired your creativity and artistic passion?
Every writer that I read and loved, even those I can no longer remember, continue to inspire me. I also draw a lot of inspiration through consuming all kinds of art (visual, performance, etc.), through history, science, people, places. Big cities inspire me a lot – I would be in the city to gather material, and in the countryside to write. My parents provided incentive by introducing me to art and literature from an early age, and continue to do so.
7) Any advice you would share with fellow writers hoping to share their thoughts with a larger audience?
Sharing your thoughts with a larger audience isn’t the hardest part these days, but finding your own particular audience can be. They are the people who like exactly the kind of art you produce, they will support you and they will make the whole thing feel worth it. You might find it in unexpected places, so don’t despair: keep trying in different directions and go towards where your work is best appreciated, and you can be yourself.
8) Do you have any exciting upcoming projects you can share with us?
Along with other more short-term writing projects, I’m currently writing a novel. Exciting! Scary. Terrifying.
#dearwritersautumn2016 I’m here and ready to kick some list butt. Today and tomorrow is typing, editing, letting sit, more editing, researching and finishing the mini-essays. Good thing deadlines come in EST! Did the dishes, got my Keats mug since this seems to be a themed week, and I refuse to wallow again. Looking forward to getting this done. And also get out more. [Exit pursued by a bear.]
A photo posted by Clio (@clio.v) on
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