OneSteptoYoubyFedericoMoccia is the first book in the international bestselling romantic trilogy that sold over 10 million copies globally and it has now been release for the first time in English. Federico’s books inspired Rome to have the “Mocciaroute,” with sentences from his books written on the walls of the city. Just as the protagonists of his second novel do, thousands of readers seal their love by attaching a padlock on the Ponte Milvio, as well as covering bridges all around the world.Federico’s books alsoinspired a Netflix series calledSummertime.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Federico about his bestselling novels, book recommendations, writing, and much more!
After the chaos that was 2020, have you set any goals for this year?
For me, it is precisely when everything becomes complicated that I work even harder to achieve my goals and to create new ones. Doing so allows me to regain a sense of security and reminds me that there is always a way to create a new version of myself, maybe a bit different and better.
2020 has tested everyone, and 2021 is continuing to do so. It’s not a defeat or a a surrender though. It’s an opportunity to learn something new, change perspective, and recalculate your trajectory. At the moment, I am working on new television formats. I have also proposed a TV series, participated in joint script projects, focused on my YA fiction, and thought about a possible new adult novel. But above all, I have prepared for the U.S. release of my trilogy, a new adventure and a dream come true.
Quick lightning round! Tell us the first book you ever remember reading, the one that made you want to become an author, and one that you can’t stop thinking about!
The first book I remember is Jack London’s Martin Eden, and this also answers the second and third questions because I would have liked to have been the author of it, and it is an integral part of me even today.
At the end of the novel, I shared with him a feeling that I thought I would never share with anyone: feeling alone. I was surprised by his empathy, and it made me understand one thing: in life there is always someone who can be close to us, who understands us, and everything lies in finding them, in knowing how to accept help, even from a book. Maybe even my character Step, in his pain, can be close to someone.
When I was a kid, I didn’t just hang out with schoolmates. I wasn’t just falling in love with real girls. I wasn’t just comparing myself to my parents and sisters. I also had other girls, other families, other friends. Their names were Martin Eden, Holden Caulfield, Huckleberry Finn, Weedon Scott, Alice, James Gatz, Momo, Caspian, Boka, Geréb, Nemecsek, and many others, the protagonists of the books I read and loved.
In each of them, I saw a piece of me, how I was then or how I wanted to be. I learned by observing them. They weren’t just on the page. They were with me. They would take me around, making me angry or laugh and sometimes giving me advice on how to win over a girl or what to say in uncomfortable situations. In short, life-changing.
By reading a lot, you always discover something new about yourself. Light bulbs are turned on, and unexpected bonds are created between various parts of your soul, and all this fuels the engine of creation. Elsa Morante is my favourie Italian writer, for instance, and I also love South American literature very much, including Gabriel García Márquez, of whom I have read practically everything.
When did you first discover your love for writing?
From an early age, I was one of those who just saw a pen, a marker, a pencil, and took them and started doodling first and writing later. In notebooks, diaries, even a receipt, and also a wall, to the delight of my parents. Just phrases, thoughts, and little stories I made up.
My father Pipolo (Giuseppe Moccia) is an accomplished screenwriter who, with Franco Castellano, has written films that will remain forever in the hearts of Italians. Watching him, I have always considered writing as a sister, beloved, familiar and indispensable. Trying to narrate life from the point of view of feelings, without distorting or filtering them, is what gives me the most satisfaction because it puts me in touch with readers spontaneously and immediately. It’s like we’re speaking the same language, and my dad taught me that simplicity. For me, it is essential to communicate in the most authentic way possible, to give one’s sincere point of view on the world.
So there’s no real “before and after” being a writer for me. Those who feel writing as an urgency always experience it, whether it is on a sheet of paper and then putting it in the drawer or online or publishing a book. If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be a person who dreams of being a writer and trying to make this dream come true. Maybe I’d be a carpenter or a cook, and I’d share anecdotes and memories with my colleagues from time to time. I’d tell stories anyway.
Your novel, One Step To You, has now been released in English! If you could only describe it in five words, what would they be?
Intense, passionate, overwhelming, painful, hopeful.
It’s a book that taught me tenacity and also the fact that fairy tales have to be written. You can’t always wait for others to do it for us. Life tests you in a thousand ways, exalts you, disappoints you, supports you, and questions you. But its most important lesson is that of resilience. It means facing a shock, a rupture, a pain by processing it, looking it in the face without denying it, so as not to break permanently. Sometimes that’s easy, sometimes it’s not.
I’ve always thought that success is being able to inspire others in some way. If everything I do gives people the way to believe more in their dreams and try to make them come true, that’s the maximum result for me. This book represents all this.
What inspired you to write One Step To You?
It was born from the end of my first love story. I had imagined that one day I would marry that girl… and instead it was over. I couldn’t believe it. Time passed, and I still couldn’t accept it.
And so I started writing, page after page, everything I had experienced: the first meeting, the surprises, the most beautiful moments, the first kiss, our first time… and everything seemed to me to have happened recently, as if it were there before my eyes.
Thank You, Readers from New York Times Bestselling Author Tosca Lee
And so, in a short time, I finished writing that book. Then, slowly, writing became a travel companion, a way to create worlds linked to everyday life.
I’ve always been very impressed by a quote from Stephen King: “Writers remember everything…especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar.”
I always thought I could add to this thought: In addition to remembering the story of each scar, I want to try to remember the meaning of every smile and joy felt, the times when a moment of happiness invaded everything and those times when I added something good to myself. I write because my stories are basically a bit like the potential stories of everyone. Beyond the details, the names, and the facts, I’m talking about the essence, about that lowest common denominator called life.
This trilogy sold over 10 million copies globally and has been published in fifteen languages worldwide. Obviously one would hope their book would be successful, but did you ever imagine it would take off as well as it did?
Absolutely not. It is a constant surprise to me, and I’m not saying that out of fake modesty. The more things happened, the more surprised I was. I have tried to analyze why all this happened, and I only understood one thing. In writing, I always have a deep love for the story I am creating. I fall in love with the characters, what they do, where they take me, and how they change me. This outweighs any other motivation. And perhaps that is why my stories have crossed borders and affected so many people throughout many different countries.
I am particularly happy to feel like a spokesperson for Italy in all the countries that publish my books. Now they have arrived in the United States. Since I was a child, I have loved American novels. I enjoy the culture, from fashion to gyms to movies to music, and now to see that the United States notices me excites me very much. It’s my American dream!
What’s the best and the worst writing advice you have received?
These are not so much specific comments or evaluations as approaches, but I am certainly bored when writers want to label who I am and what I do, boxing my work in a definition, or when someone says that what I do is too light or superficial, as if love were nonsense. I am honored when I am read or listened to without prejudice by those who still have a sense of wonder.
I’m so glad that I did not listen to writing advice. In Italy, no one wanted my novel, and I had to publish it at my own expense with a small publishing house that after some time closed. But my book continued its life because readers passed along photocopies of the pages, and when they decided to make it into a film after twelve years, the book was reprinted and sold 1.8 million copies. Since then, the trilogy has been published in fourteen other countries including the United States.
Lastly, do you have any book recommendations for our readers?
In addition to the ones mentioned before, I would add: Embers by Sándor Márai, Madness by Patrick McGrath, The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende, The Memory of the Heart by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks, P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern, Tender is the Night and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier, Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, Persuasion by Jane Austen, and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.