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New Writer 2020: Luca Serra

Fiction

Originally from Northern Italy, Luca Serra has been living in Scotland for six years. From an early age, he has been interested in creative activities such as writing and painting. He has dedicated himself to writing for about ten years and has so far written two novels and various short stories in Italian. He started writing in English two years ago. After working as a translator in Glasgow, he moved into teaching English as a foreign language. He also holds creative writing courses for Italian speakers in Edinburgh.

Luca is particularly interested in contemporary social issues such as immigration, identity, and the divisive politics of today. Through his writing, he aims to explore the challenges and experiences that come with moving to new, unfamiliar places and how the characters establish their identity and purpose in those places. His characters are often misfits and minorities who pull out the remarkable and, sometimes, absurd in ordinary, day-to-day lives.

He is currently working on a collection of short stories around the theme of immigration. He is also working on his third novel, “Glasgow smiles better”, which follows the lives of four characters who tackle various issues such as mental health, visible differences and acceptance through forging a new community in each other.

Follow Luca on Twitter(this will open in a new window)

Writing sample

Extract from short story collection in progress

And off I go, this time.

The temperature is even higher than before. I speed up in the kitchen, agile, followed by the head chef's eyes. His bearded face seems always impatient to say something, or rather shout. Tense jaw, tense cheekbones, his nostrils trembling as if he were about to sneeze. There is a lot more to pick up this time, no big pot nor giant size ladles, but what must be a whole set of frying pans, from the size of a tennis table racket to the size of a lorry tyre. I pile everything up in a plastic crate, throw some wooden spoons in, and a whisk, and oh wait, this chopping board too. It feels like a treasure hunt, dirty tools appear in every corner of the kitchen, some look like they have been there since the opening back in 2003: the plastic handles have multiple burn marks and the metal hosts brown rusty spots, as if it were infected by a kitchen disease.

“One risotto, one pie, two scampi on three” the head chef shouts.

“YES, CHEF!”

“YES, CHEEF!”

“YES, CHEEEF!”

“YES, CHEEEEF!”

It's the soldier-cook response. Head down, tiny crystal beads of sweat gather on their foreheads. Their faces are getting redder and redder and the sleeves of their white and blue stripes uniform could not be more rolled up, covering now just the top of the shoulders.

Keto throws the cutlery in a deep transparent bucket filled with hot water and yellow soap, splash! I turn back and see the water becoming brownish, small bits of fish and meat floating up to the surface, while Keto is muttering “fast... fast... they want everything fast. Why don't they wash their stupid plates for once?” He sticks the plates in a blue tray and shoves it with one arm into the machine. In the meantime, some cooks bring me more oily pans, they want them rinsed quickly, ready to be used right away. I don't even see their faces, there's no time for that, pans appear from behind, underneath my nose, or in my hands. All I can hear is a voice – sometimes a man, sometimes a lady – “Could you wash this, please? I need it now!” or “my friend, this one! Please, fast!” And I can finally understand Keto's frustration.

Luca says:

"I still can't believe it and I am extremely grateful to the Scottish Book Trust for this opportunity, it's been a wonderful surprise and I am looking forward to meeting other talented writers and being inspired by this amazing experience."