The duo who are Michael Gregroio talk to Crime Time…
Like many writers, we have always produced a lot more work than we have managed to publish. I’m not talking about rejected manuscripts and failed novels – we all have our secret store of those! – but pieces which don’t really match the round hole into which your square peg was drilled when you managed, somehow, to interest a publisher in your first book.
Once upon a terrible time, anything your publisher wouldn’t take was destined for the dustbin.
Sometimes a short story or some other titbit might find a home, but even then the restraints of set guidelines and anthology requirements pressed you into another corner.
We have two crime stories in the soon-to-be-released collection, "Venice Noir" (edited by Maxim Jakubowski for Akashic Books, NY), for example. In this case, we are very excited to break out of our ‘historical’ crime mould. Our four published crime novels, Critique of Criminal Reason, Days of Atonement, A Visible Darkness and Unholy Awakening (Faber & Faber, St Martins-Minotaur) are all set in the first decade of the nineteenth century in Prussia, while these tales are set in modern Venice. How did it happen?
Well, Maxim J noticed on Facebook that we used to live in Venice. "Can you write me a story?" he asked. We felt inspired, wrote two, and Maxim liked them both. Some¬times you are lucky, and you get the break that shows off some other side of your writing interests.
I published a book about daguerreotypes long before we managed to publish a crime novel. Il Dagherrotipo a Colori was translated into Italian by Daniela and published by Nardini Editore. It was a technical description of colouring practices in the early photographic trade, and I am very proud of it. My greatest moment? I have published dozens of articles on the subject, and I am quite well-known among photo-historians as Michael G. Jacob. Most of them have no idea that I am also half of Michael Gregorio, novelist. It goes to show that if you possess some ‘specialist’ knowledge, you will certainly find a publisher, though you probably won’t make a penny out of it. I made very little, though it gave me a great deal of pleasure.
Some things, however, just don’t fit any hole at all. And that’s where self-publishing comes in.
I was chatting with someone today on Twitter, saying that publishing yourself is not the same thing as vanity publishing, and that people self-publish for a host of reasons. Here, cross-my-heart etc, I have to take all the responsibility. I maintain our website in English, while Daniela is always busy doing (useful) things. She is very focussed on our crime writing, while I am a bit of a magpie. We live in Italy, and I realised that I had been chronicling the tragic-comic slide of poor old Italy into the Slough of Despair in my blogs, and that I had about thirty articles which made a compact, diary-like unit. Nobody would publish them, and apart from the few diehard souls who regularly check the blog, not so many people were reading them. And each new piece just pushed the earlier ones even further out of the public eye.
Okay, I thought, let’s try Amazon…
I am hopelessly in love with Italy, fascinated by the country, its history and its people. I have lived here for over thirty years, and I believe that I have something to say. The blogs give me the chance to say it, and they allow me to indulge my irrepressible sense of fun. They were available free for a few months, but now you have to buy them. I hope that INSIDE ITALY will induce more and more people to check out the new blogs which I will continue to put up two or three times a week. Come April, 2012, I’ll remove those from the website, too, and INSIDE ITALY – volume 2 will appear as a kindle e-book.
Oh yes, by the way, we have written two new crime novels this year.
That is, Daniela wrote them. I just sort of helped…