We’re thrilled to have here today, Bianca, from Gabriel Valjan’s new mystery/suspense novel, Threading the Needle. Bianca is a thirty-something forensic accountant living somewhere in Italy.
It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!
Thank you so much for this interview, Bianca. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?
I have to say that I was a little defensive when I first read the book. The first two chapters make me out to be a cold-hearted bitch. First, I dragged one of my friends, Commissario Farrugia, into the mess; but that isn’t true at all. He insisted on helping me. Who knew what would happen to Charlie? I mean, it was supposed to be a simple meeting. Whatever. God, now I sound like Alessandro. In the second chapter Dante grills me about what happened, I couldn’t tell him that Charlie had slipped me a jump-key before he got killed. I had to at least find out what was on the thing, right? Dante wasn’t very nice to me, and don’t get me started on Loki, who told me flat out to stay away from this; but how could I? Farrugia was now in a mess with Internal Affairs and this young kid, Charlie Brooks, was dead and it is was all somehow my fault. The news blew it all out of proportion. Let’s just say that the author and I didn’t see eye-to-eye from the start, but it all worked out, with a lot of yelling and revisions.
Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?
Colorizing? I can’t say that I’ve heard that term before. Well, I have to say I was a real mess this time around in Milan. It’s not like Rome or Boston where I felt I held the cards in my hand. When I read through the drafts, I think the author was fair. He’d let me know when I was difficult, but he also showed me what a wonderful group of friends I have. I had to rely on them a lot because I was rather cloistered in Milan, with Loki as my only contact, which was no picnic at times. Matters were tense between me and Dante and I hated – HATED – being dependent on everyone. I was in a new city and I had an ant problem in my apartment. I also had to admit that I was out of my element. If it wasn’t for Gennaro explaining to me about Gladio…yeah, I was colorized well.
What do you believe is your strongest trait?
Some people say it is my intelligence, but I think they’ve got it wrong. Yeah, I’m competent, but my talent is persistence, my discipline, and my capacity to make creative leaps with information. I’m not always right, but connecting the dots is what drives me, and I don’t mean in a conspiracy–theory kind of way, although with Rendition you never know. I used to work for a covert organization that focused on white-collar crime before any one knew what white-collar crime was…what I’m trying to say is it’s like seeing a number in those colorblind tests. Not everybody can do it. You could see a six or a nine, but I see both. I’m good at that.
Where do I start? Pride. I’m stubborn. Dante and I have had monumental arguments over this. I’m not exactly romantic or girly-girly, but a part of me refuses to capitulate and admit that I want to be desired, taken care of; but the thing is, I have a hard time letting my guard down. You can say that I have “trust issues.” Like I said, I have too much pride and I’m stubborn.
If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?
Kate Winslet. I wish that I looked like her. She is pretty. The point is I want an intelligent woman, one with soul, who will do me justice. I don’t want some bobblehead with breasts. Not that I don’t have a nice figure, but readers of Roma, Underground and Wasp’s Nest know that I like to eat. All I ask is that someone let it be a real woman. I’d also like a dog, a cane corso, to make a cameo appearance, like Hitchcock did in his movie, but that is an inside joke between me and the author. Kate Winslet would be my ideal.
Do you have a love interest in the book?
Dante. He drives me nuts, but I’d go through the gates of hell for him. Enough said.
At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?
I knew how it would turn out. My worry was whether the author was going to get the Italian point of view right. That’s not something I could do but to his credit the author delivered. He conveyed a difficult time in Italian history, one that I think few Americans know about but should, since terrorism and manipulating public opinion are relevant today.
If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?
Loki. I would not want to be Loki. Why is very simple. I walked away from Rendition on my terms, which is not to say that I haven’t paid a price, but I can’t imagine being Loki and living life in two different worlds. I don’t even know whether Loki is a he or a she, but I know the weight of living in the shadows has to be tremendous. The one thing I learned about working in the intelligence community and from observing organized crime is that you never leave, never are free, but something has to be said about living life on your own terms. I’m not convinced that Loki does – but then again I’ve always wondered with Loki if I am being played.
How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?
I am a better person.
What words of wisdom would you give your author if he decided to write another book with you in it?
Like I said earlier, I am not a girly-girl kind of woman, but maybe show a softer side to me? If I am difficult it is for a reason. I have a lot on my mind. If it is not Dante, then it is Alessandro and his love misadventures, or it is Gennaro in one of his legendary moods, or I am stumped like everybody else as Silvio negotiates Italian and English. At least, I can say that the food is great. The author writes food well.
Thank you for this interview, Bianca. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?
Rumor has it that the author has already written the next two books, Turning to Stone and Corporate Citizen.
Gabriel’s short stories and some of his poetry continue to appear in literary journals and online magazines. Ronan Bennett short-listed Gabriel for the 2010 Fish Prize. Gabriel won first prize in ZOUCH Magazine’s inaugural Lit Bits Contest. Winter Goose Publishing publishes his Roma Series: Roma, Underground(February 2012), Wasp’s Nest (November 2012) and Threading the Needle(October 2013). Gabriel lives in New England.