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Interview: Nick DiChario on “The Baron and His Floating Daughter”

Nick DiCharioTell us a bit about “The Baron and His Floating Daughter.”

The best way to tell people about a story you’ve written is to ask them to read it and hope they can tell you what it’s about. A good story speaks for itself. Mine happens to be a folktale, which means I hope it has a snappy plot, a touch of magic, and a clever character or two to root for–all hallmarks of the traditional folktale. A folktale is also a cultural snapshot of its times, so I invite readers to enjoy the social commentary in my story. (And it really is about a baron and his floating daughter just like the title says!)


What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

Many years ago, I read a wonderful novel by Italo Calvino called The Baron in the Trees. It’s about a young baron who climbs a tree after an argument with his parents and decides he’s not coming down. Ever. He spends his entire life up there, moving around town from one tree to another, meeting people, experiencing life from twenty to fifty feet high. When I started writing my own folktales, Calvino’s novel came roaring back into my mind. I wondered what it would be like if someone didn’t have a choice in the matter and had been born with a peculiar floating ailment. That’s when the story was born. 


Was “The Baron and His Floating Daughter” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

All my stories are personal to me. The published ones, anyway. They’re never any good if they aren’t personal on some level. There are things about Francesco, Levita, Antonio, and the bind they find themselves in that I can relate to: lost hopes and dreams; disappointments and failures; perseverance and spirit; facing the forces in life that cannot be controlled. It’s a very human story. The great philosopher Albert Camus is often quoted as saying, “Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” I try to keep those words in mind whenever I write a story. Truth is what makes fiction personal.


Can you tell us about any of the research you may have done for this story?

I suppose you could say I’ve been researching the story for years. I’m a great admirer of Italian folktales. In 2016, I traveled to the University of Calabria in Southern Italy to learn about Italian folklore, literature, and culture, an experience that led me down the path to writing my own original folktales. “The Baron and His Floating Daughter” is one of several I’ve written that all embrace the Italian tradition. I also wanted to bring modern themes and sensibilities to the form. I hope I’ve succeeded in doing that as well.


Why do you write?

Please hold while I schedule a psychotherapy appointment. 


What are you working on now?

I’ve recently finished a collection of my own new Italian folktales (including “The Baron and His Floating Daughter) and would like to find a publisher for it. I’ve also been working on a few other short stories, at least one of which will be published in an upcoming F&SF. I’m feeling the itch to write another novel. My last novel was published in 2008. I’ve been knocking around a few ideas for it, hoping one will jump up and down and insist I write it. We’ll see. 


“The Baron and His Floating Daughter” appears in the November/December 2018 issue of F&SF.

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One Response to “Interview: Nick DiChario on “The Baron and His Floating Daughter””

  1. One Last Quickie – Nick DiChario on December 26th, 2018

    […] Those of you who read my short story “The Baron and His Floating Daughter” in the Nov/Dec 2018 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction might be interested in checking out the interview F&SF posted a few days ago on its blog site: […]

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