Photo 1. The view from Michele Ponte's writing desk. Photo 2. One of Ponte's favourite phrases.



It wasn’t by accident that we at Via Lettera chose Michele Ponte to be our first author. His novel ‘Diary of a young psychopath’ impressed us with its youthful sincerity, innovative style and its spirit of adventure. One of the topics that we are interested in is the theme of the new Europeans. We would like to find out more about the new generation of Europe that does not remember the separation lines of the past.

Just before the publication of the novel in Bulgarian, we had a chat with Michele Ponte.


Michele, your novel Diary of a young psychopath’ has just been published in Bulgarian. What are your thoughts and feelings in the eve of this launch?

I love to travel, so now I have the perfect excuse to visit Bulgaria, especially Sofia and the Black Sea.


What was the inspiration behind ‘Diary of a young psychopath’?

It was the need to write something that at least for me seemed to be a good writing, but especially the need to create a novel that would be different from all the rest. I wanted something that would make readers think: “I've never read a book like this.” Some people could hate this novel, but at least it is original and they will recognise it.


Present your novel in a sentence.

It is the story of a boy discovering himself and understanding the world around him after a loss.


Was this the novel you had in mind when you started writing or did the narrative take you in a different direction than you initially intended?

I had no clear direction, I was just writing and had no idea of how it could end. Especially looking at the end, my Italian publisher made me re-write the last pages at least 7 times and now I really appreciate the result.


Do you recognise yourself in ‘Diary of a young psychopath’? Is it related somehow to real events in your life?

Let’s just say that some scenes are transposed minute by minute from real events...


How was this novel accepted in Italy?

I am amazingly surprised every time I read a new review: people are so different, they could say things from A to Z and this is what makes this world perfect and not so boring: different opinions.


What were the best and the worst comments you received?

One of the worst: “If it wasn't for the arrogant and obnoxious protagonist, the book maybe could be readable.”

One of the best: “This story is so unlikely and unexpected that until the last page you want to check if something will happen or if it is just a product of a crazy man.”


The protagonist in the novel is half-Italian, half-Polish. He has grown up in Rome but used to spend his summer holidays in the Polish countryside. Later in his 20’s he goes back to Poland again to heal his emotional wounds. How would you define the nationality of your protagonist: Italian, Italian-Polish or European? And how would you define yours?

I've read an interview in which Umberto Eco said that Erasmus students are creating the first European citizen, and he is kinda right. The problem is that he hasn't experienced it directly: I know he married a German woman, but he is not a “son of Europe”. Europe will never be as tight as USA because we are too different and very proud of our own history. As a product of two cultures, Italian and Polish, I can say that sometimes I feel like I belong more to one country than the other, but never European even if it would be nice to be; I'd have to say that mostly I feel like in that old cartoon character called Balto: “It is not a wolf, it is not a dog. It knows only what it isn't.”

I do hope that one day I'll be able to write a great book on this topic.


The novel is like a cultural bridge between Eastern and Western Europe. As a young European do you feel there is still some kind of a gap in people’s perceptions of East and West or is it already a thing of the past?

In people's perceptions there is still a cultural gap and this is why I try to make as many of my friends as I can visit Poland, so they can see and feel that what they thought about it was just a product of old stories: 15-20 years ago I remember my father driving in streets built by Hitler to let pass the tanks during WWII, streets with holes, scars from side to side. Those are just memories, nothing more.

But I have to admit that some countries are trying to fill this gap so fast now that they are invaded by big companies, the globalitazion that is pushing from every corner, and I'm worried that those countries will lose their identity.


Who has influenced your writing most: writers you like or people you meet?

Both, but I'm one of those who think that writers should go outside of their room, feel the world and only then describe what they have experienced. Meeting people helps to create better characters, hearing stories helps create better novels.


What topics would you rather avoid writing about?

It's not about the topic, but about the story. If my blood doesn't run as fast as it can, if I'm not excited or passionate about it, then it is not worth wasting my time and the time of the reader.


You are always on the go, so where do we find you this time?

I've just arrived in Wroclaw, Poland. I think that I'll stay in this city at least until 1st of January, because friends from many nations have already booked flights to come visit me until that date. Then I will see how I feel, which especially depends on whether I would be too bored doing the work I just got at an airway company.


Have you ever visited Bulgaria? What are your first associations, impressions, or connections with Bulgaria?

I've to admit that before this publication Bulgaria wasn't the first country that would have come to my mind for a future trip, now it is on the top list. I love the smell of the sea, the sound of the sea waves, so if I have the time I'd start from the coast and then move inside, through some places in the mountains all the way to Sofia.

Ah, to answer your question... the first association my mind makes with Bulgaria is the Bulgarian wine that I tried in Krakow in 2011. I know it is nothing important, but this is the first thing that comes to my head.


What are you working on at the moment?

A novel about basketball and broken dreams.


Thank you for your time. We really hope to see you in Bulgaria soon.