Andrea Camilleri’s warm and witty detective series set in sun-soaked Sicily and featuring the irresistible Inspector Montalbano, has sold millions of copies around the world and has been made into a TV series, Young Montalbano, on BBC Four.
Butt who is the man behind Inspector Montalbano? In a recent interview, Andrea Camilleri spoke to Teresa Mannino bout his writing routine, his role model and the person who taught him to tell stories.
On his writing routine:
For a long time, during the early years when I started writing, I used to write at night. Naturally, at a certain point I became unable to carry on that way. So now I get up early and spend at least 45 minutes in the bathroom shaving. Actually I just waste time because I’m getting mentally organised to write. Then I get all properly dressed as if I were going out. But instead I come in here and sit in front of the computer because I can’t write if I’m not shaven and neatly dressed.
On his writing space:
I like small studios. Everything’s concentrated, and when you concentrate, you’re cocooned by the books and all your things.
On his role model:
I’ve always said my role model is the trapeze artist. Beautiful, always smiling. She’ll do a triple somersault with a smile on her face without giving away any of the immense effort of the training. Because if she did, she would ruin your enjoyment as a spectator. It’s the same for me. I want to be a trapeze artist. I don’t want to show any of the hard work of writing.
On the person who taught him to tell stories:
My grandmother. Grandmother Elvira is someone to whom I owe a lot. She used to make up words and you had to figure out the meaning of what she was saying, even if there were three or four words that she’s made up. After a while, you’d get used to it and guess right… She had such a great imagination, she opened up mine.
Why Camilleri credit his father for making him a writer:
When Camilleri's father was terminally ill and lying in bed, he Camilleri to tell him a story. When Camilleri finished, his father turned to him and said 'Why don't you wirte this story? Will you promise to write it? But you must write it as you told it'
Camilleri's former student Emma Dante, talks about the influence of his Montalbano series:
Listening to him and reading his work are almost the same thing. Not because he’s a printed book but because his books are alive. His work is an ongoing project, not a single book. He’s managed to create a universe. Vigata doesn’t exist, yet it does. I have the sensation of having been there.