Adventures in Florence inspire first novel
A WAY with words and a love of creative writing has certainly paid off for Banora Point's Roberto Roja.
The 25-year-old recently self-published the novel Filth and Romance, broadly based on his experiences travelling throughout Florence, Italy.
Now the novel has been picked up by US publisher Laughing Fire Press and the hard yards are really starting to pay off for the passionate young writer.
"I think words really portray something deeper to the human consciousness," Mr Roja said.
"It's portraying something the spoken word doesn't really capture."
I came back to Australia and I was getting frustrated...I couldn't finish it. I went back to Florence, got an apartment and started to pump out 12,000 words a day.
Mr Roja graduated from Griffith University with a creative writing degree five years ago and has been honing his writing skills ever since.
"It's about my experiences in Florence, about life and women," he said.
The Italian-Australian noted that penning a novel is not always easy, with writing block often a difficult obstacle to overcome.
"I came back to Australia and I was getting frustrated...I couldn't finish it," Mr Roja said.
"I went back to Florence, got an apartment and started to pump out 12,000 words a day.
"You really have to be in the right state of mind."
Mr Roja eventually finished Filth and Romance after four years and after publishing it himself, was ecstatic to see it picked up by several brick and mortar and online bookstores.
Even Collins bookstore in Centro Tweed began stocking the novel, before Laughing Fire Press offered Mr Roja his big break.
"In the end that was my ultimate goal," he said.
Mr Roja said he hoped his novel offered a unique story, that would capture readers until the very last paragraph.
"It's got things in there that deal with how to live our life and what holds us back," he said.
"Hopefully it gives younger readers something to draw from because it challenges the status quo."
Mr Roja summed up Filth and Romance in few simple sentences.
"It's about a young man travelling and trying to find his world.
"Challenging his own thoughts and the world around him."
Mr Roja, who also juggles a job at Foxtel, said he would continue to pursue his blossoming creative writing career.