Montreal author, Agostino Scafidi, has published 3 ebooks now and has a 4th readying for release in December. He contacted me about reviewing his book, Dreams, Fiction and Me and gave me a free copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review of this, his 3rd ebook. His description refers to it as “paranormal fiction” which is not particularly a genre I’ve read much but after reading an excerpt, I was hooked on it and read the whole book rather quickly, enjoying it very much.
Before beginning to write my review, I decided to read one of his other books to gain a perspective on his writing style and versatility of genre. I purchased The Invisible Papers. Of the writing he has shared so far, there is quite a diversity in both these areas. I decided I would begin with a bit of an interview with Agostino and then share my own thoughts. Here are my questions along with his replies:
A: Yes, the sister I refer to in Dreams, Fiction and Me is my sister, who also designed the cover for it. She also designed the cover for my upcoming poetry eBook.
Q: Each cover so far has been different from the others. Do you come up with the concept yourself or does someone else design them for you?
A: Apart from this one, and my upcoming one, I designed the first two covers. Art is not my forté, but I do think I still have some creative talent in those areas, and I felt confident enough to design my own covers. However, I’d now rather defer this task to someone with more talent than I.
Q: I bought and read your 2nd book to add some perspective to Dreams. In many ways it is quite different but I wondered if you see a philosophical thread between them.
A: I do see a philosophical thread between those two books. Although they are not explicitly pronounced, my influences do naturally span and affect my work in areas with such subject matter.
Q: In your introduction to Dreams, you talk about keeping a dream journal and developing lucid dreaming. Do you believe you were able to exert some control over your dreams?
A: I have never successfully dreamt lucidly. I do wish I’d be able to, simply because it sounds like a lot of fun, and sort of “witchy”, and that is attractive to me. The most control I’ve ever been able to exert was tied with my practiced ability to journal so many of my dreams in one given night.
Q: Did you just record your dreams or have you tried to interpret them?
A: I have not put an extraordinary amount of effort into interpreting my dreams, but through the process of writing the eBook, I did have a chance to reflect upon everything and take some insights from it that provided good food for thought.
Q: Why do you characterize this work as “paranormal” fiction?
A: I chose to label it paranormal because that was the best label I could find for promotional uses.
Q: You also mention “astral projection” in your introduction. Do you believe you were ever able to achieve this?
A: Years ago, in my late teens actually, I did attempt astral projection on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I succeeded, although I did reach states of deep calm and a feeling of lightness.
Q: Your first book is a crime drama; your second, an esoteric monologue; your third, dream sequences; your fourth is going to be poetry. Do you consciously vary your genres for a particular reason or are you simply a complexly versatile author?
A: I don’t intentionally vary the genres of each of my eBooks, but I am the type of author that just can’t stick to one genre! I go where my inspiration leads.
Q: Are you a musician who writes as a sideline or are you an author with an interest in music?
A: From my teenage years to my mid-twenties I pursued a career in music. I did not succeed as I had hoped I would. To be honest, I never really wanted a successful career in it, but this is something I realized only after, once I had the time to really reflect on that closed chapter of my life. I gravitated towards writing because that’s what I felt closest to, and I wanted to focus on that. I love music, and I love playing my guitar, but I do it just for myself nowadays. I’m happy with that.
Q: You write sometimes about “body ink” and from your picture you have quite a few tattoos. Have you encountered much discrimination because of them?
A: This is a particularly good question! Yes I have encountered some discrimination. Some people hate it, others like it, others are stand-offish, others are curious. I never realized how different life would be until after all I got all that ink. I don’t regret one bit of it though, it’s just something I had to adapt to. I don’t mean to make it sound too grave, but it definitely is noticeable. You’d be amazed at some of the reactions of I’ve had! I still remember one guy who looked like he was going to faint, calling me “Il Diabolo!” Oh, and I feel like some people are even afraid of me, which I guess can work for me in certain situations (ha ha!).
Q: Can you give us a glimpse into the subject of the poetry from your upcoming release?
A: The poetry in my upcoming eBook will not be “pretentious”. I’m not pretending to be Yeats or anything. I don’t even really enjoy the traditional types of poetry all that much, although there are always exceptions. Some of my favourite poets for example are Sylvia Plath and Sri Chinmoy. Oh, and Leonard Cohen too. Basically, my intention with it is to make it accessible and unique based on my own personal approach.
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Dreams, Fiction and Me is a collection of 27 stories, or series of stories, based on actual dreams recorded by Agostino in a period when he was actively involved in an experiment to, by means of a pre-sleep suggestion or meditation, enable himself to wake in the night after each dream and write down as many of the details as possible before they faded away. He was able over time to record as many as five dreams a night. At the end of each series of stories (usually a set of 3), he includes the original recorded details of the dream. The writing is meant to entertain, as he puts it, ” with stories unorthodox in origin whose true teller may not even be myself as you would know me in this waking state, but a counterpart of me living in a world beyond our own”.
These stories are refreshingly different: sometimes whimsical, sometimes thought-provoking, and occasionally a bit scary. One of my favourites was called, “The Things A Good Washing Can Do For You” which is about a dog with magical powers who is willing and able to clean and tidy for his master on command — as long as no-one sticks around to watch him. Some, like “It’s Not Zombies”, have the narrator/protagonist displaying super-brave, super-hero powers to eliminate an alien enemy that threatens his family. Some of the stories require the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ but then, whose dreams don’t? One sequence that captivated my interest was called “Darkness Masquerading as a Promise” in which the narrator is among a group of people who are making a conscious choice to undergo some form of torture, possibly a hell, and the narrator finally takes a stand and ‘opts out’. Haven’t we all had dreams where we have shown uncommon bravery?
These stories are sure to intrigue you, invite you to explore the dark side of your humanity, and encourage you to recall dreams of your own. Perhaps you will even want to start a dream journal of your own. Even if you don’t try to keep waking up in the night to record them, it could lead to an interesting experiment and, while you may not try to turn them into stories, you may gain insight into your own psyche. Either way, you should give this book a try. Available from Agostino’s website. • • • •