Thursday, April 23, 2009

Author Q&A with Luigi Morelli, 'Revolution of Hope'

Author and trainer Luigi Morelli says his faith in social change from a cultural perspective has evolved through a combination of training, education and unique personal experience. He teaches “Non-Violent Compassionate Communication” based on Nonviolent Communication as developed by Marshall B. Rosenberg. In 2003 he was a founding member of the Wavecrest /Friends of L’Arche community for the disabled (part of the international federation of L’Arche communities), in Orange County, Callifornia, in 2004. Morelli holds a masters degree in environmental sciences, and has lived in Europe, South America and Africa. He has resided in the US for the last 22 years. His book, Revolution of Hope is due out momentarily from Trafford at

How did you get your start in writing?
I am originally more of a researcher than a writer. English is not my first language so I need an editor. As a researcher I am someone who has a passion for asking questions that matter … I ask questions and then dig under every stone to find leads, and new answers leading to larger questions.

My first question leading to a book came to me on a warm spring day along the banks of the Delaware in Philadelphia at what is called Penn’s Landing. I love Philadelphia and its historical background and that day my attention lingered on a tall bronze statue of the Native American Tamanend (St. Tammany). The caption at the foot of the sculpture said he was patron saint of the colonists, and his festival was celebrated on May 1. I was inspired and tickled to death by the idea that a Native American could be a patron saint for Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. I thought I would just find a nice book that would explain it all. I ventured into libraries and bookstores asking for something that I thought everybody knew. Not so, in spite of (the statue) standing in front of everybody’s eyes in Philadelphia. I started digging out information about St. Tammany and living with this image in my mind and heart. Two other similar questions came my way about related topics: one through a movie (Squanto), the other through a Native American legend (the Iroquois legend of the White Roots of Peace). This led to my passion for writing and to the first book Hidden America.
What does your writing routine look like?

Writing, reading, musing at images, legends, biographies, reflecting at life questions that have accompanied me for more years than I can tell … I help myself with notes, I draw connections. If it is a myth or a legend I make sure I read it slowly and fully; read as many versions of it as possible; let the images live vividly in my imagination; let them converse to me on a daily basis. Depending on how large the question this process can take from months to many years; I don’t have control over the length of it. At other times it is a matter of living through some life experience, especially socially transformative processes which are what I am most interested in.
When the material starts to settle I generally start thinking of an artistic form to give it, something like a thread or a structure that can give the reader added interest and that helps me organize the material in a way that offers me support, creativity and fun. This is the most creative part. After that it’s a matter of iterations; going through the parts and making sure that the material is organized coherently; returning to the whole and see if the parts add up coherence; returning to the details and polishing them, etc.

I can do this while working on more than one project at a time since I don’t give myself deadlines.

Tell us some writers whose work you admire and why.
Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner) for an inspiring book written by a first time doctor-turned-author. It is thoroughly engrossing, a page turner. At the same time it is universal.

Atwater, P. M. H. (Beyond the Light: The Mysteries and Revelations of Near-Death Experiences) for sound common sense and for taking on daringly original perspectives, casting light on the fascinating topic of near-death experiences.

Nicanor Perlas (Shaping Globalization: Civil Society Cultural Power and Threefolding) for wresting a coherent image of hope from a world in which I could see little.

Brown, Juanita and Isaacs, David. (The World Cafe: Shaping Our Future Through Conversations That Matter) for a book that is a delight of originality, practicality, stimulus for thought.

Greaves, Helen. (The Dissolving Veil, Testimony of Light, The Wheel of Eternity) She writes of her own spiritual experiences with sobriety and discernment, avoiding sensationalism and self-aggrandizing.

Wheatley, Margaret J. (Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World) for an engaging synthesis of natural scientific discoveries and what they mean for social science, particularly leadership.

What are you working on next?
I want to continue the work I started with Spiritual Turning Points of North American History with a sort of twin volume about South America. The first work places in parallel historical research with myths and legends of North America about a figure that is known from all of North and Central America, a civilizing hero of the Americas who is known as far south as Patagonia.
The book will be an attempt to show that the Western scientific mind can be reconciled with the Native American consciousness; in essence that the natives know what they talk about when they speak about their history in the language of myths and legends. Now that I’ve done the first part for North America I want to do the same for South America, taking Peru as the starting point, since this is where we can find the largest historical and mythical record. This is exciting because I am partly Peruvian by my mother and because I know many of the places and legends that I am exploring, plus have a natural passion particularly for the legacy of the Incas and for the Native culture of the Peruvian mountains (particularly Cuzco and the high plateau of the Titicaca).

What made you decide to write this book?
Of all the questions I wanted to write about those I confront in A Revolution of Hope are the ones I initially wanted to answer for myself alone. I had been a social activist from my early youth, and the questions of social consciousness, right livelihood and spirituality have accompanied me lifelong.

What advice would you have for other writers/would-be writers?
Trust that your life questions are important. Let them lead you to the goal and give them the time that they need, not the time that you need. It doesn’t matter if a book takes ten years while another may take six months. You can write more than one in parallel.

Trust that you will have access to artistic creativity in the process. You don’t need to be a ‘Ulysses’ Joyce or Shakespeare, but you can still find ways to render your material interesting, and discover resources you didn’t know you had.

Your own growth is what matters: don’t measure yourself up to unrealistic yardsticks.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: J. Louise Larson, blogmistress for The Writing Porch, interviews published authors. To be considered, email her at jackielarsonwrites (at) gmail (dot) com. Larson's work has been published in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Dallas Morning News and Entrepreneur Magazine. She is the managing editor of the Ennis Journal and a contributor at the Waxahachie Daily Light, and she has received the top award for series writing in Texas, the Texas APME, as well as a silver from the Parenting Publications of America. She co-authored a nonfiction career guide for FabJob Publishing in 2006, and is ALMOST finished with her new novel, 'At High Tide.'

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