Get to know… Marco Crivellari

I have been confused by the world for some time now. 

This is not merely because the people in it (me included) seem often to act in bizarre, strange, contradictory, self-defeating and funny ways (‘Humanity i love you because you are perpetually putting the secret of life in your pants and forgetting it’s there and sitting down on it’ – ee cummings). 

No, my confusion is also in part because of who I am. I am a member and non-member of various classes, religions and ethnicities – half Italian, half Jewish, I grew up in working-class east London and went to Cambridge (the first of my family to go to university) so…. what exactly am I? A working-class immigrant? A middle-class graduate? Jewish, Catholic or none of the above? English? What boxes should I tick – and more importantly, how should I see and understand the world? 

On balance it seemed the smart thing to do was to adopt the position of an interested observer as I tried to figure out exactly what was going on around me. 

After university I tried, first (and very briefly) as a journalist, then as documentary producer, and latterly as a TV drama script editor. To my great pride I worked with brilliant people and stood next to them as our films won five BAFTAs – I even wrote some drama scripts myself. 

Latterly, though, I have moved away from television, all while continuing the attempt to understand the world and myself. The quest becomes more urgent as time ticks down and markers of mortality land – THWUMP!! – in the ground around me. I am now trying to show my working in prose and it turns out to be a lot of fun and very satisfying too. Why didn’t I try before? Haven’t I spent a whole life loving books and stories and finding characters, plots and lines of prose appearing in my head? I have tried to write them down but maybe…. when it came down to it…. I lacked the confidence to think they were worth saying out loud? 

It’s difficult to know exactly what you want to say if you’re still trying to navigate the world (and yourself) – and if you are constantly prey to the cultural cringe of the working-class man in uncharted territory. Who am I to raise my voice? 

So that makes me all the more grateful for finding Writing Room. 

I’ve written two novels now, but who knows if they’re any good? Well, I’d trust Jenny Parrott to tell me – Jenny is a fount of knowledge and insight not only into writing, but also into the business of writing – that is, the publishing industry. Another world to decode and navigate, and Jenny is an invaluable guide. At the moment I’m doing a course on Editing Your Own Work with her, and previously I did a course on creative writing and submitting to agents – and in between I attended some of the agent and writer sessions Writing Room offers. 

Writing Room has illuminated the way ahead for me, making me feel just that little more confident in taking my first steps in a new direction (or at the very least, that I am in good and supportive company!) 

Here’s hoping maybe at some point the words I’ve piled up on various pages will add up to something worth publishing and reading. In the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying the journey, feeling like I’ve made some new friends along the way. 

An Extract (from the novel ‘Morbid Symptoms’) 

The car drifted silently through the city, passing rich partygoers in Mayfair and less rich partygoers in the West End until, when it reached the beginning of Fleet Street, Ian sat up, as if at an unseen signal, and craned his head to see St Paul’s. The long incline of Ludgate Hill swept up to the western façade, its columns appearing almost too slender for the vast heft of the stone, the dome floating above the rest of London as though by magic; the building gave the impression all at once of earthly power and numinous intent, and it seemed to issue a command to him, through the haze of whatever it was that he’d ingested. Ian told the driver to stop; unfolded his legs and reached his feet out of the door for the ground, half-expecting it not to be there. 

It seemed to him that it was snowing – not completely impossible in England in April, but unlikely enough that another part of his brain suggested it might be a hallucination. All the same, he saw the snowflakes gleaming in the light of the streetlamps, wondered at their slow, careful descent; and when he held out his fingers he felt them melting on his skin. Should he lick his hand to test if the snow flurry was real or would the driver realise something was up? 

Wisely, Ian turned his back to the car as he lapped at his cupped palm. He was sure the driver wouldn’t have noticed, but he remained unsure if it really was snowing. He resolved not to ask. 

Ian was thirty-three years old – still in time, perhaps, to radically change course. But did he really want to? His eyes skated over the cathedral façade as if looking for an answer: just having St Paul’s there felt like a kind of reassurance, as it must have been in the War when it so famously remained unharmed by Nazi bombs, rising above the flames. Ian was just enough of a proud Englishman that seeing the cathedral like this stirred something in him that felt like, if not exactly patriotism, at least something adjacent to it; a way of imagining what patriotic Britons believe about their country, the meaning with which they imbue the idea of their nation. 

God, King and Country. 

So, what would be the patriotic thing to do? Should he speak with Mickey, or not?   

If he expected a moment of revelation, none was forthcoming. The cathedral remained mute and impassive, and after a while – it could have been five minutes, it might conceivably have been thirty – Ian turned and climbed back into the car. As soon as he felt the leather upholstery beneath him, he was immediately enveloped in sleep; and the next thing he knew he found himself in his bed, in his flat, shielding his long-lashed eyes against the sun. It was 10.17am, and he was late for work.