CR: Your novel Peter's Choice begins during World War II and covers almost 75 years in the life of some very interesting people. Among the historical characters in the novel are a notorious, deposed dictator, a world famous opera star, and five popes. Why?
JO: I thought it would be a good story.
CR: Did you learn something in the process?
JO: Many things. Writing a novel is a complete different animal; like getting involved in an incredibly complicated courtship. At the beginning, your approach is cautious and you might be a little apprehensive. But, as time goes by, the story and the characters develop a life of their own and there is nothing to do but let them lead you where they will.
CR: In a remarkable moment in the book you describe Man as motivated to do good instead of evil; you do so in form of an analogy that is simple, and yet, brilliantly logical and profound.
JO: Well, it occurred to me that if you put all the people in the world in a room and you show them two pictures: one of a beautiful stream, on a lovely sunny day, surrounded by colorful flora; and on the other side you have a picture of a dead rat in a sewer with shit in its mouth while a swarm of flies buzz overheard, I guarantee that 99% percent of the people in the world will pick out the picture of the beautiful stream surrounded by colorful flora; the same way 99% of the people in the world, if given a chance would chose doing good over evil.
CR: And yet, there are many in the world who do evil instead of good.
JO: Because they do not know any better.
CR: So the root of all evil is not money, but ignorance?
JO: I have no doubt it is.
CR: Are you working on anything else at the moment?
JO: I just finished my second novel called Il Cenacolo, and will immediately start on a another, a love story whose title I must keep a secret...until it is published, of course.
JO: Why not settle for a good story?