INTERVIEW WITH ROBERTO ROJA
AUTHOR OF: FILTH & ROMANCE
Please give us a short biography of yourself
My name is Roberto Roja. I was born in Sydney, Australia. I believe that what makes us who we are is something kept inside ourselves that only few really see in the outside world, hidden there like an old dusty bottle of red wine, stored somewhere inside ancient ruins or castles spread across the globe, never to be consumed by anyone, not even ourselves. That’s who I am. That’s who we are as a species.
When did you start writing?
I started writing later than most. I was about 21 or 22 when I first finished university and began to travel by myself for the first time.
What writers have influenced your work?
My biggest influences, in terms of the great writers of the past, would be Bukowski, he is my biggest influence, Hunter S Thompson, John Fante, Dante, Artaud, Rimbaud. These guys really knew how to shake you up and mess up the works. Good Ol boys.
What are your writing habits?
These days, I usually come home from work, cook something, you gotta have some fuel, crack open a bottle of red, have a few cigs in between, and punch away at the keys for the rest of the night, trying to write down a few good lines.
What led you to write Filth & Romance?
I was travelling throughout Europe and the experiences I had at the time, I felt I needed to get them onto the page. And it’s funny because, even now, after writing and publishing the book, I still write about those experiences. They never leave you.
How did you select the themes in the book?
There are many universal themes in there: love, sex, the human condition, trying to make sense of the world and pushing the boundaries of how free you can allow yourself to be in a world that tries to keep you down.
How long did it take you to write Filth & Romance?
I returned to Australia, I could not finish it, the words would not flow on, I was really stuck. So I decided to go back to Europe to live there again, find myself a small studio apartment in the backstreets of Florence and finish it off.
What challenges did you face in writing this book? What challenges does writing, in general, present for you?
Writing Filth & Romance taught me how to persevere through the hell that comes with not only writing the book, but also finishing the fucker as well. And also to put that away, then moving on to the next story. Writing is a hell you eternally walk through, never finding the exit door. Yet along the way, there are moments of complete satisfaction you will never experience in the bars, workplaces, gyms, or shopping centres.
What impact would you like this book to have on readers?
The readers can get anything they want out of it. Some might find the words too in your face and real. Others might see through all that and connect with the deeper meanings of how the real struggles of life and all the romantic notions are interwoven in between all the filth occurring in the story. Either way, a person can hate it or love it. It’s a story I needed to write.
What are your ambitions with your writing career?
If I could get to a point where my work pays for the rent and everyday living expenses, that would be a real dream come true.
Can you give us a hint about your next writing project?
The past few years I have really only focused on poetry. It’s a form where I can get the words out and flowing in a natural way. Will there be another novel??? I feel I need to keep traveling and walking further through that hell, before another is produced. Again, it’s an eternal fight.
What books are you currently reading?
I try to deviate and expand my reading selections, but you often get bored with the mainstream or classical writers. For me, I always seem to go back to the good old duker’s like Bukowski and Thompson.. If it doesn’t have that spark, moxie, and guts to the work, there’s no point.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
That is a good question. I think it comes back to endurance. If you are not willing to walk through that hell for eternity and keep fighting the good fight, there is no point in continuing to live out a dream you probably will never reach. Others have said this before — if you want to be a writer, you have to do it for your own satisfaction, not so that some day you’ll be rich and have beautiful women chasing after you all over the place. Keep it real. And drink lots of vino.
What are some of your hobbies and passions?
I love traveling to different places. Music is a big passion of mine. I can sit outside on the balcony and go from blues to jazz to classical to classic rock. Music is where it’s at, baby.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know about yourself or your work?
What comes from the pages is not a unique story. A lot of people think we are all so divided and different. It’s true to an extent, but I feel we are all pretty much the same being, burning with the same everyday struggles. The quicker we realize this, the faster we will come together one day and really make something good of our existence.