In Conversation With…John A Bonello
John A Bonello’s debut novel was 2008’s It-Tielet Qamar, the first in the Loghba ta’ L-Allat trilogy of fantasy novels aimed at young adults. Both the second and third installments of that trilogy (L-Ahhar Holma and Is-Sitt Ahwa) won the Young Adult Category in the Malta Litterary Awards in 2011 and 2013 respectively. Alongside these books he also published two books in the Unus Mundi series (Fil-Merghat Tal-Impossibli and Jien, Wiehed Minnhom)
He has recently penned two books for children about Irvin Vella that deal with a young investigator with a very good knack for finding and solving mysteries. John has also experimented with Transmissions, an online serial story published in 100 word episodes on medium.com. Set in a distant future, the story is told in the voice of a man everyone calls ‘Left’.
His first English novella, Dystopia I is currently in the final stages of editing and will be released sometime in 2017.
Conversation Pieces: Is there a book that you wish you should have read earlier in your life?
John A Bonello: American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I have been following this author since he co-wrote Good Omens with Sir Terry Pratchett in 1990, and have always admired him greatly–not just for being a brilliant storyteller but also for the man he is in real life. For some reason though, I’ve always postponed reading what many consider his masterpiece, American Gods. It’s an amazing work.
CP: Which — and why — are your three favourite books?
JB: The Lord of The Rings trilogy — ok maybe this is cheating, but it is one story. The greatest story every told. Tolkien created the genre, and he did so with painstaking detail. I re-read this trilogy often, because it is beautiful literature, because it gives me so many emotions. Someday I wish I can write a perfect paragraph like most paragraphs in this unique work.
Cloud Atlas — When I read this book I was stunned. Then I re-read it a second time, and I was stunned twice. The plot, the Matryoshka doll concept of nesting stories within stories, the richness of the prose and the characters themselves make this a perfect novel. The movie is also a personal favorite and I think it’s a great companion to the book, actually giving it more depth.
Qed Nistenniek Nieżla max-Xita — Pierre Meilak’s first collection of short stories is so delightfully well written. I simply immerse myself in each story, admiring Pierre’s unique way of painting complex little masterpieces.
CP: Is there a book you think everyone should read?
JB: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It’s probably the funniest book I’ve ever read. It also contains within its pages the answer to the ultimate question of life the universe and everything.
CP: Do book covers influence your choice of reading?
JB: Rarely. I’m more intrigued by the title. Witty or weird titles have a certain fascination. I can think of many books I read just because I liked their title, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss for instance, and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. I’m not a blurb reader however, as I prefer to discover the book by myself rather than knowing what to expect.
CP: Is there a piece of advise you have for budding authors?
JB: I believe that everyone has a story inside them that’s worth telling, and if someone feels the urge to write it down, then that’s exactly what they need to do: write, every day. If they want to become good at it, then they need to constantly think about writing, and make writing a focal point in their lives. Researching, revising and editing are also fundamental to ensure a book is in its best form when it’s published.
To learn more about John A Bonello check out his website and Facebook page. Whilst we’re at it, please do join the Conversation Pieces newsletter to be kept informed of our projects and follow us on Facebook. Conversation Pieces’ manifesto can be found here.