ANGOLA – Local writer Steven Faramelli was almost prophetic when he wrote his new novel about a pandemic.
Faramelli of Fremont began writing “The Last Symphony” in 2016 after reading an article about pigs getting a virus that made them immune to antibiotics.
In his novel, a virus called Project Omega is a man-made flu built up of a combination of both the bird flu and the Spanish flu that is beginning to wipe out populations.
It took a fight with COVID-19 to convince Faramelli to finish his book.
“Life is really short. I have this book almost finished. What if I were dead,” said Faramelli, who was hospitalized because of COVID.
The Greek alphabet for the virus is only the beginning of the parallels between “The Last Symphony” and the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has had many variants with names from the Greek alphabet, most recently omicron.
Faramelli said there are many parallels from his novel to the COVID-19 pandemic. From wearing masks, working from home and even a massive debate about taking a vaccine, the story is eerily similar. He once had a chapter called “A New Normal,” but he later changed it because of the jarring coincidence.
The main character in “The Last Symphony” is a college student named Chase, who is a music prodigy with savant-like abilities. Chase goes to music school in North Carolina when tragedy strikes.
The key to an interesting protagonist, Faramelli said, is to get them to go through a lot, and the antagonist has to be really mean and disgusting.
“The Last Symphony,” contains Easter eggs from some of Faramelli’s life and things he loves.
The Volkswagen bus in the novel is based on a VW bus Faramelli owns, and he plans to make the VW bus a recurring theme in future novels.
In the book, after the virus hits, the National Guard is involved, and Faramelli was a member of the National Guard after high school to help pay for his college education.
He also inserts many quotes from the 1975 American thriller “Jaws” because it is one of his favorite movies.
The musical aspect of the novel came from Faramelli’s talent with music. He grew up playing saxophone and singing and then played keyboards in a few rock bands as a young adult.
Faramelli said he underwent a lot of self-reflection while writing his novel.
“Are you doing something you know will pay you well, or are you following your heart?” said Faramelli.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he scrapped almost the entire book. Faramelli himself received COVID-19 and was hospitalized for two weeks and almost ventilated.
Before he got COVID-19, Faramelli struggled with what success would look like for him. He felt that he was almost suffering from fraud syndrome or the Jonas complex.
“After COVID, I thought I should just get it out,” Faramelli said.
Faramelli explained that novelists are often grouped into two categories: an armor or a plotter.
“I’m a kind of pants who needs a plot,” Faramelli said.
“An armor is a term most commonly used about fiction writers, especially novelists who write their stories’ by the pants’, ‘” the Writers Digests website said. The opposite would be a plotter or someone who uses contours to help plot their novels.
Faramelli has been around books for a long time.
Faramelli’s mother was an English teacher and he learned to read at a young age. He remembered going over to his hometown of Silvis, Illinois, library as a toddler. He would ask the librarian to let him check out Steven King novels. He begged them until they finally gave in and let him take them home.
He wrote to Silvis’ library’s Facebook page to thank them for helping him find his art, because it led to Faramelli becoming a lifelong supporter of King.
One of his favorite novels is “The Stand”. He also mentioned that he has read Kings, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”, several times. King’s son Joe Hill, also a writer, is also fast becoming a favorite among Faramelli.
Writing podcasts daily has also helped Faramelli become a better writer.
The primary advice Faramelli gives writers, however, is. “write what you love.”
“Good readers make good writers,” Faramelli said
He explains that he wrote a book he would like to read.
Faramelli is also a fan of magical realism and post-apocalyptic novels.
As a graphic designer at Trine University, Faramelli is constantly trying to get his art to tell a story. Designing the cover of “The Last Symphony” was no different.
Faramelli not only designed the cover, but he also published it himself through his own publishing house. He did this because he wanted complete creative control over everything.
His family and friends have been very supportive of his book throughout the process. His daughter Heidi even helped him write the ending.
“Does it have a happy ending?” Heidi asked her father.
It did not. Faramelli thought long and hard and ended up rewriting his ending to be a little more promising.
Faramelli has promoted his book through his author’s Facebook page named Steven Faramelli, author.
On Facebook, many of his friends and family have raved about getting their fingers in Faramelli’s novel. You can also see the many stages of various cover art he went through during his process
“The Last Symphony,” can be purchased at Amazon in both digital and physical formats as well as Kindle Unlimited.