The Writing Life with Literary Author Rocco Lo Bosco

A writer for over three decades, Rocco Lo Bosco has published poetry, short stories and two novels. His first novel, Buddha Wept (Greycore Press, 2003), about a spiritually gifted matriarch’s experience of the Cambodian genocide, received good reviews (e.g., Publishers Weekly) and much praise from readers, many of whom called it “life changing.”  His current novel, Ninety Nine, is published by LettersAt3amPress. Lo Bosco also has a nonfiction book in press with Routledge (2016), co-authored with Dr. Danielle Knafo, a practicing psychoanalyst, entitled Love Machines: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on the Age of Techno-perversion. He is currently working on his third novel, Midnight at the Red Flamingo. Additionally, he has edited papers in the fields of psychoanalysis and the philosophy of science and has also worked as a ghost writer.
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What’s inside the mind of a literary author?

It depends on the particular author, but surely there’s overlap among minds with similar concerns. If one is writing a novel, the characters are probably knocking around in the author’s brain, arguing with each other and the author about what’s going to happen next. Some narrative trajectories may light the inner sky of mind and trail off in a fizzle. Others will burn brightly against the darkness until they assume a power that’s irresistible.  Additionally, the ruthless eye of the author is always taking in real events happening around him or her––good, bad, funny, poignant, tender, shocking, horrific, and so forth––with greedy intent to mine them for a story.

What is so great about being an author?

Being an author provides the means to shape the messy tragedy of human existence into something that sings. In this sense it elevates the author, and this elevation has little to do with whether he or she is published or has even written something good. No, this elevation refers to an embodied perspective that demands a gesture of transcendence. That is, the story must, by structural necessity, assume an ontological position. The attempt to write a story with literary value expresses a unique and particular relationship with and position within the fact of being alive and embedded in history.

When do you hate it?

I don’t.

What is a regular writing day like for you?

It’s like any other day because I write almost every day. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s very hard. It doesn’t matter. I always put the time in, usually in the morning.

Do you think authors have big egos? Do you?

What is a big ego? An exaggerated sense of self-importance? Assuming we define it that way, then how would such an exaggeration be properly gauged? It would always be a matter of a presupposed standard underlying someone’s opinion—either the opinion of the one possessing the “big ego” or the opinion of others who know that one. So essentially we are speaking of masks and mirrors––the masks we assume in social situations and their reflective quality, the ongoing evolution of projection, the fictive quality of our assessment of others. I do not know if I have “a big ego.” I believe some who know me would say “yes,” and others would say “no.” Perhaps their answers would have much to do with the “size” of their own egos––whatever that might mean. 

How do you handle negative reviews?

I look to see if I agree with any of what is said by the reviewer. That’s easy to know because it hurts, and the hurt feels right. As the pain fades, I then try to incorporate a correction of insight into my future work. If I do not agree––that is, if what the reviewer says does not resonate with me––I am not affected by the review at all. 

How do you handle positive reviews?

After I finish stroking myself over the good review, I reread it and turn it inside out. That is, I read it with an eye to errors in judgement made by the reviewer. If, indeed, I then feel damned by some aspect of the reviewer’s praise, I do exactly the same thing I do with a bad review that I feel has some validity: I attempt to incorporate a correction of insight into my future work.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

I hardly ever do this, even when I am sometimes asked what I do. When I do tell someone I write, the person’s reaction can range from complete indifference to avid interest. Sometimes I will enjoy telling someone about what I’m working on, but mostly I do not. What does it matter what people think about my working as an author?  I have no interest in that. I’m concerned with their work as readers––what they think of my writing and the writing of others.   

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

When I don’t feel like writing, I write anyway. There’s no force or breaks involved. 

Any writing quirks?

Yes. I have my ritual before I begin. This is it:

1.  Walk around the apartment for 5-10 minutes, musing about this and that and looking out various windows.
2.  Make a cup of coffee.
3.  Muse while waiting for the coffee to brew.
4.  Take coffee to writing station.
5.  Look out window by writing station one more time.
6.  Sit down, open computer and GET TO IT.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or if they saw it as a hobby?

It was that way for the first ten years I wrote. It did not make a difference to me. During that time a friend once referred to my writing as a hobby. After I belly laughed for a full minute, I wiped the tears from my eyes and said, “Yeah, but it’s surely an important hobby. Only one thing I do comes second to it.”
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Living,” I answered.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship with writing. Can you relate? 

Yes and no. My relationship to writing is somewhat like my relationship with myself.  I must exist to know I exist; if I am, I know I am, and because I know I exist, I must write. Writing is a response to my own existence. Now, I believe love and hate are felt in response to anything (or anyone) of central importance to a person. Why is this? Because there is both love and hate already in and for one’s self-existence, if for no other reason than the awful burden of mortality and the toll it takes on human sanity.

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?

No.  In this way I am at complete odds with my culture, which embodies the command that what doesn’t make money shall have no value.

What has writing taught you?

It has taught me to write. It has aided my ability to think critically. It has made me examine what I feel in a more nuanced way. It has caused me to recollect my life in much greater detail than I would have if I did not write. It has inspired my imagination. It has made me read more and always with the eye to how a work of literature (or philosophy or science) is constructed. It has provided a platform of transcendence by which the tragic aspect of life can be viewed with humor and wit and embraced more openly. Lastly, it has taught me to happily keep my own company. 

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

Wisdom is found more in the questions we ask then the answers we give.

Title: Ninety Nine
Genre: Literary Novel
Author: Rocco Lo Bosco
Publisher: Letters at 3am Press
Purchase on Amazon

During the summer of 1963 in Brooklyn, Dante’s family falls into financial ruin after his stepfather borrows money from loan sharks to start his own trucking business. Young Dante has his first love affair, with an older woman, while his stepbrother Bo struggles with murderous impulses over his mother’s abandonment. The brothers become part of the Decatur Street Angels, a wolf pack led by their brilliant cousin who engages them in progressively more dangerous thrills. Four event streams—the problem with the loan sharks, Dante’s affair, Bo’s quest for closure, and the daring exploits of the Angels—converge at summer’s end and result in a haunting tragedy.

Ninety Nine is a fierce coming-of-age story, with tight plotting, interesting characters, and the timeless ingredients of any good piece of fiction—the anguish of change, the agony and ambivalence of love, the exuberance and craziness of youth, and a tragic ending with the whisper of redemption.

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