@womenplot meets Antonella Pergol

by Erica Surace

Antonella Pergol is the first emerging author published by Women Plot. “Eredità Luminosa'', published on June 1st, 2021, is her first novel. An incredibly evocative and realistic story that will lead you through a world with no time nor space. In this interview with the author we will introduce Antonella, her novel and the behind the scenes that characterized her writing process. 

Who are you?

I am a 58 years old Italian woman, originally from Trento, with a big aspiration to discover the world. Since I was little I was fascinated by languages, I wanted so badly to speak something different from Italian that my friend and I invented something in between English and German. Then, I was lucky enough to start studying German in the second grade and my eyes widened. I did classical studies in high school but for university I moved to Venice to follow my passion for languages. Now I live in Bergamo, but with my family we moved a lot around the world, we lived for a while in Ohio, in the USA, and in Asia, Shanghai. I consider all of these places as gifts that enriched me.

Where did the inspiration for your book ‘Eredità Luminosa’ come from?

I took it right from my origins, that land that nurtured me, where I grew up happily for 12 years. I wanted to write about lasts, my story didn’t want to be centered around glamorous characters with success, I wanted to write about someone that is about to be forgotten. That’s why I chose elderly people, who were living their last moments in life, so that they could have the possibility to tell their stories before they disappeared. I chose the suburbs of Italy because I feel that Trentino has a lot of recognizement in the tourism field, but still not enough in literature, so I wanted to bring to life these minor realities, the more genuine and pure, that are hidden from turism. I took my inspiration from there, from people with whom not a lot of others had the chance to talk. 

What brought you to the need to tell this story and what has been your writing process?

This novel was born a lot of years ago but I never settled for a conclusion until the recent pandemic, where locked inside we all started to do something creative. Going back to the small village where my grandparents lived, the cemetery made something click in me. I saw these names that sounded old and the plants looked lonely but bold and strong at the same time. And there I started to hear a whisper ‘Come on, write’. If someone wants to listen, in the quiet he can hear inspirations all around, and there I tied the first knot. This knot was called Delfina and she started following me. I started to write about her in China because I was missing the smells and sensations of that small Italian village and I was surprised she followed me that far. 

How did you settle on the character’s names?

In regards to Delfina I didn’t even have to think about it, I remembered that my mom’s older sister always told me stories about a certain Delfina, I liked the idea of that name because it recalled the Oracle of Delphi. I wanted to give her a very simple super power and I decided on her name. While, for Ermete, I picked it because it resembles the idea of everything that is hermetically closed in the institutions. He is a priest, the representative of the religious law, that has been for a very long time the law of the country in Italy.

Is this the first book you are writing? Did you write anything else in the past?

This is the very first novel that I concluded, I started another book but I put it on the side for the moment, because I met Delfina and she asked me to make space for her first. She is a bit of a quiet character, a loner but that can be very disruptive in her choices, and kept asking me ‘Why don’t you write about me first?’. Initially, I only wanted to write a couple of pages but then she asked me more and I felt like her story deserved more. The main difference between the characters is their age and is fascinating the fact that they come from the suburbs. Characters like them are disappearing now and I wanted to share with the younger generations their stories before they get forgotten. My idea was to get young women in contact with the girl power that gets passed down from mother to daughter or woman to woman, that goes back centuries. Delfina is one of the last representatives of this strength, and maybe one day a young girl will be interested in knowing a woman like her. I have met some Delfinas when I was younger and they always fascinated me. I am really grateful to these people because they have done some extraordinary things. I really believe in this character because, even though she is fictional, I think that she has some truth in her that she wanted to share with the world through me. 

Is there something that surprised you during the writing process, something you have learned?

In school when you have to write an essay you are taught the first step is to prepare a ladder: the introduction, the development and the ending. I’m a bit of an anarchic in writing, I do not start something without knowing where I am going, everything that comes up in my mind, in whatever moment of the day, I write down on a piece of paper. Doing so I start to create something that might seem messy at first, just some random ideas thrown together, but slowly they start to make sense and to create a puzzle. If you truly believe in what you are writing, that puzzle will become a beautiful artistic piece. So, the only advice I can give is: when something pops in your mind, write it down right away and put it in your purse, so you won’t forget it.