Loranne Vella: ‘2018 was my year of achievements’

Winner of the National Book Prize with her latest novel Rokit, and the Fiddien trilogy with Simon Bartolo in 2013, Loranne Vella is one of Malta’s most widely read writers in the field of children’s and young adults’ literature. Her translations have won her the Terramaxka national children’s books prize in 2015 and 2016. She lives in Brussels where she directs the interdisciplinary performance art group Barumbara Collective

Loranne Vella
Loranne Vella

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Press the alarm snooze button.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

To pack my bag in the evening for the following day.

What do you never leave the house without?

My to-do list for the day and my phone.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Busy, nostalgic, curious.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

To have made 2018 possible. 2018 was my year of achievements (Il-Hanina Maddalena, Verbi, winning the National Book Prize). By December I could hardly believe all had taken place in just one year.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Singing cartoon theme songs from the ‘70s and early ‘80s. I know all the lyrics by heart. In Italian.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

That I am not the same person I was 10 or 20 years ago. That I could change so much over time.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

A flat. But I sold it. I don’t own anything so expensive anymore.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

I wish I knew how to follow my mother’s advice and learn to play the piano.

Who’s your inspiration?

Konstantin Stanislavski and Madonna, and their philosophy of becoming, of self-betterment.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Putting up the performative installation ‘Verbi: mill-bieb ’il gewwa’. The year-long project brought with it a series of challenges. It’s my most ambitious project ever.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

Performing. Or directing. Which I already do, anyway.

Do you believe in God?

No.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Clark Gable. Just to make a childhood fantasy come true.

What’s your worst habit?

Checking the time. Every few minutes.

What are you like when you’re drunk?

I don’t remember.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Liza Minnelli, please.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Inertia. Stasis.

What music would you have played at your funeral?

“Train” (from Stalker), by Edward Artemiev.

What is your most treasured material possession?

My mother’s bobbin lace doilies.

What is your earliest memory?

Wetting my pants at school. I was three years old. Somebody must have made me laugh.

When did you last cry, and why?

Just a few minutes ago while watching a video clip of a cute baby chimp. Children, baby animals and old people make me cry. Because they are more vulnerable.

Who would you most like to meet?

Myself back in 1984. I have a few things to discuss with her.

What’s your favourite food?

Pasta.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

Colette Collerette.

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

Any time in the past. Not necessarily my past. The past fascinates me. Sometimes more than the future.

What book are you reading right now?

‘Desire’, extracts from a selection of short stories by Haruki Murakami.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Erm... to travel in time, perhaps? Ok let’s think of something else. To be able to detect a lie immediately.

What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Have my own cabaret show.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

One of my playlists on Spotify. There are songs by Lebanon Hanover, Dream Affair, Deux, Jimmy Somerville.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?

I am X, Robots in Disguise, Soko, Ariel Pink, La Rappresentante di Lista, Madonna… depending on my mood.

Tell Us...

What’s the hardest part of being a writer in Malta?

Finding an agent.

What’s your all-time favourite book?

Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children

What advice would you give anyone interested in becoming a writer in Malta?

Write in Maltese.

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