Today we talk about Oxford, I love you, a book by Anna Quaglia published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author, Anna Quaglia, to get to know her better, the moment that led her to the writing of her book Oxford, I love you, as well as the messages she wants to send out with her personal experience.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- What was the moment that led you to the writing of your personal story?
One day I was watching the film “Shadowlands” which was shot in Magdalen College in Oxford. The story and especially the images brought me back to my summer English courses spent in that college and in the famous university city. That was the moment which gave me the courage and inspiration to write my personal story. It was 1995 when I started going to Magdalen college and I kept on going there until 1999. It was an incredible period and experience as I met students from other countries who were there for the same reason as mine: learning the language. But what impressed me the most was the atmosphere inside the college walls: anything was soaked with history, tradition and culture. It was a world which made me feel comfortable and happy as if I had been there for ages. I attended the courses in the morning and in the afternoon too but that was neither tiring nor annoying. It was something which made me feel important as I was studying surrounded by walls which had seen important writers and famous politicians attending their courses there too.
- What sensations did you feel by ‘reading’ your life on the pages of your book?
I wrote the book and any time I read it is like being there especially when I describe the moments spent in the classroom, in the dining room or alone in my bedroom. I still feel the same sensations as years ago when I entered my bedroom the first time I went to the college. Its greyish walls and creaky floor were not very encouraging but as soon as I approached the window my life and all my sad feelings changed into happiness and emotion: the view from there was spectacular as I could admire the Chapel, the Tower and all the quadrangles which made and make this college so special. Reading through the pages is like walking along the streets in Oxford: having a cup of tea in a tearoom, entering one of those tourist trap shops where anything has the Oxford University logo, having the pleasure of tasting a beer – Guinness is my favourite – in a pub, maybe the Turf, one of the oldest pubs in Oxford, or strolling along the corridor at Blackwell’s. It’s like going back in time and reliving all those moments.
- What are the messages you want to send out with your book?
I started going to England when I was still attending the university. In the ‘70s I went to Oxford alone, no friend, nobody with me who could help me. Technology was nonexistent: no mobiles, no computers. So, I booked my flight in a travel agency and the university where I studied found my accommodation and school. When I stepped out the plane my adventure started with a map and when I say “map” I mean a paper map and I started to put into practice my poor English studied at school and at university. Most of my English consisted of grammar and literature, which are essential for learning a language but when you have to face practical situations such as asking information about trains, buses, directions, you realise that what you have learnt does not help you. But I could survive. Technology is very useful but nowadays it seems impossible to survive without it.
- How was your publishing experience?
About my publishing experience, it was and it is exciting. I haven’t translated my book as it is my opinion that only a native speaker can catch the exact gist of the content and pick up the correct expression. I believe that my English is good but not as good as to be able to translate a book. I might have done it but my vocabulary is not so wide as to express any single part of the story. I asked a friend of mine to do that. She is English and after 12 years in Italy she moved to her birthplace in England. When she was in Italy, we worked for the same school so we have known each other for many years. It was an interesting collaborative work which was obviously revised by the publishing house editor. And that was also a good experience since the editor and I could compare opinions and find the right solution to which expression or word had to be used.
- Are you planning to write more books?
Honestly, I have learnt a lot from the English version: so many idiomatic expressions and turns of phrases that I would never have used. This is my second book. There is the Italian version and the English version. I wanted this book translated into English because the Italian version is sold at Blackwell’s, the iconic bookshop in Oxford. I could get in touch with the right person who works there and he told me what to do in order to have my book “on their shelves”. He used these precise words when he wrote. Last year I went to Oxford and obviously to Blackwell’s; I met this person and he showed me where my book was displayed. It was a great emotion to see it together with other books which dealt with Oxford and its history. I do hope that the English version will be close to the Italian one very soon. I have written another book which deals with my study experiences in Cheltenham, a city in the Cotswolds not far from Oxford. There is not the same atmosphere, the same historic monuments and colleges but I met new people, new teachers and a host lady who has become a close friend of mine. And more important, I have found out a part of England which I didn’t know and which surprised me for its beauty: the Cotswolds. The book, whose title is “E ancora Inghilterra sia” has not been published yet.
Europe Books thanks the author, Anna Quaglia, once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside her on the editorial path that led to the publication of her book Oxford, I love you. We wish her the best of luck for her future works.
To you, my readers, I hope the story here told will capture, interest, amuse you! At the same time, it will offer you tips and hints if you want to travel or stay abroad. Make those hints useful during your journey!
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy your reading!