Camilla Ronzullo, Milan based since the late 1970s, is an agglomeration of creativity that is expressed through various channels, from the novel to the visual language to the essentiality of the voice. The degree in History and Criticism of Cinema characterizes her approach to art and life and ensures the success of her personal project, Zelda was a writer. Intrigued by her charisma, we decided to interview her.
How was Zelda was a writer born? Where does the name you chose come from?
Camilla Ronzullo: «I came up with Zelda was a writer in 2009. At that time the radio I was working for fired me permanently. Since I was very keen on American and Scandinavian blogs, I decided to open one of my own pouring there the passions and contents that crossed my life. On the radio I used to presented book and met many different artists, intellectuals and musicians on a daily basis. I didn’t want to lose the preciousness of that work and so, in a sense, I decided to become my own publisher.
Obviously the project began as a game, but over time it gave me the opportunity to experience my every creative side in a new context full of possibilities. In 2009 there were no influencers and followers, but people willing to talk about certain issues equally. I miss the precious worlds and beautiful stories of those years.
The name “Zelda was a writer” is inspired by Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, an eclectic and damned character of the first half of the 1900s. Zelda was a writer, painter and dancer, but she was best remembered for being the muse of a far more famous husband. I took a cue from her life to spread one of the ideas that have always fueled my energy:
No matter what life will decide for you, you are and will be what your soul has decided.
Despite all the events of her existence, Zelda was a writer. I thought that her example could inspire many behaviors».
The Zelda was a writer project is a reference point for avid readers and more, what is the relationship between words and images? How do you think this union will develop in the future also thanks to digitalization?
Camilla Ronzullo: «As far as I’m concerned, it’s a natural fact. I write a lot with my eyes, I’ve always done it, perhaps because I have a cinematic background. Furthermore, I like to give the word a physical consistency, to take care of its meaning as well as its presence in the space of a page.
This does not mean that words and images must always go hand in hand, but that there is a deep relationship of mutual aid between them. If you think about it, the imagination that initiates every creative act is always an impressive film, an imaginative moving image that can do everything and stops at nothing.
The boundless flow of messages of the digital age pushes us to have a faster and more dynamic aesthetic approach and, in this, the use in images has an obvious added value. The risk, however, is that the in-depth study is seen as a useless annoyance, rewarding what is easy and celebrated by avalanches of likes. I hate generalizations and, in general, I have a very optimistic approach towards the future. However, creatives know that sometimes they have to slow down, stop talking to everyone, deal with darkness, failures and issues that will never end up among the trend topics of Twitter».
In addition to writing, you dedicated yourself to short stories in the audio-documentary Domani è un altro mondo (Tomorrow is Another World) produced by Storytel and dedicated to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. What is your opinion on podcasts?
Camilla Ronzullo: «I think they’re great. Storytelling has always been present in the history of mankind and if natural selection has decided to give it such a long existence, it certainly means that it is crucial for human beings.
I hope to move forward with this area. There are so many stories waiting to be told… Some prefer images, others words and still others a mere loving voice».
The title of your book, Diario dei ricordi futuri (Diary of future memories) – Salani, is very interesting, how would you define a future memory?
Camilla Ronzullo: «Diario dei ricordi futuri was born as a great tribute to creativity. This magical and revolutionary energy is truly capable of generating miraculous personal revolutions. It belongs to everyone, not just the artists. It can push us to overturn every perspective and every fact, it can allow us to look at things with ever new eyes.
Creativity reminds us that we are the ones who define the times and measures of who we are, that there are no hard and fast rules or limits imposed on our need for life and expression. Future memories, the patient collection of clues as to who we will be, tell us that everything we need is already within us, ready to blossom profusely if we give it the chance to do it».
The inspiration for the book comes from Italo Calvino’s American Lessons, how did you develop the theme?
Camilla Ronzullo: «I read the American Lessons many years ago, under a holm oak between Zoagli and Rapallo, during a summer when the most exciting thing that could happen to me was a breakfast at dawn, on a beach reclaimed by plastic slippers and beach shoes.
For me it is a small manual of life, which continues to teach me new and useful things. When I thought about how to describe my approach to creativity, I had no doubts and I asked him for a hand. The result was a diary made up of six rooms (the number of Calvino’s lessons) in which keys to reading are provided to throw oneself with open arms into creativity together with many empty pages in which to fix one’s very personal here and now».
Would you rather go back in time or go and see what will happen in the future? In what era would you go to peek?
Camilla Ronzullo: «I think I like being where I am. Creativity allows me to travel a lot, both in time and space».
Your previous book, the novel La Misura di Tutto (Salani), tells of a car trip around Italy. During this period of time, in which it was not possible to travel, we realized how beautiful our country is even more… How did the idea of telling this journey come about?
Camilla Ronzullo: «During the first lockdown I would have liked to be with Nina, Cesare and Gerri, the protagonists of La Misura di Tutto. Traveling with them through Italy, free to do as it comes, without the rigor of a roadmap, of a pre-established itinerary. The idea of this trip from Milan to Lampedusa was born recalling the ones I used to do with my parents in the early eighties. We had a battered blue Diane that had already driven millions of kilometers and rocked dramatically at every slight dip in the road. They were endless journeys, with no great goals to reach, yet they gave me the most intense memories of my life. My father used to say that people make the places and, thanks to this geography of feeling, I have never stopped telling them».
Since we talked about the future, what’s in yours?
Camilla Ronzullo: «I hope there will be many words to write, to illustrate, to tell. I’m working on a story lost in time. I think she‘s the one who found me and so I’m relying on her unfailing timing. This is how I learned the wisdom of waiting.»