In “Vida Becker and the Storytelling Machine,” t h e new book by Maurício Gomyde, young Vida Becker is chosen to lead the great geniuses of humanity in an epic battle in Paramundo. This is the first volume of a trilogy that p l u n g e s into a story full o f action and fantasy, where more than 100 billion deceased humans find their destiny. In this universe, they are divided into the Kindly Ones and the Fearsome Ones, with Vida Becker becoming an unlikely leader in t h e midst of an imminent war. The plot leads readers t o interact with notable historical figures, while exploring themes such as fear, acceptance and growing up. With sensitive writing, Gomyde delivers an important message to young people facing the uncertainties of youth. Maurício Gomyde, author, musician and film writer, presents a work full o f adventure and reflection that promises to captivate readers.
In the plot of “Vida Becker and the Storytelling Machine”, the protagonist Vida Becker is called upon to lead the geniuses of humanity in a great war in Paramundo. How did you come up with the idea for this unique narrative?
I had the idea during the pandemic. My daughter s t a r t e d studying online, everything was new and very complicated to work with, s o I had to act as a teacher to help. I realised that when it c a m e t o history, it was very difficult to g e t her to connect. In times o f social media, the lives of Egyptians, Babylonians and Romans from 2,000 years ago seemed like a burden. So I thought I’d write a book in which a girl called Vida Becker is taken to a special world where all the people who have ever died on Earth are revived. This would be an opportunity to insert, by interacting with the girl, some of those historical characters as “superheroes”, marvellous people who could show who they were, through an incredible adventure in which she was the protagonist. I think it was very strong, there are a lot of interesting people in book 1 and several others are ready to be introduced in books 2 and 3.
The book explores the afterlife in a creative and unique way, with different territories for the Lovable and the Fearsome. How d i d you develop these Paramundo concepts?
Humanity’s biggest question, “Where do we go after we die?” has always troubled me too, of course. When I was designing Paramundo, I thought: “Why not create a fantastic post-death world full of alternatives?”. I didn’t want the representation of heaven to be a white place, full of clouds and little angels playing t h e lyre, any more than the representation of hell to be all fire and brimstone (laughs). S o I divided Paramundo into two territories (the Fraternal and the Ermine). In the Fraternal, the kind people from all eras and cultures get along and live in cities that are mixed reproductions of earthly cities (Paristambul, Londyork, Cairatenas, Nairoberlim…); while the Wasteland, home to the fearful, is in the middle of a desert and is chaotic. And these two groups will face o f f in the greatest war i n human history for control of the Paramund. At the end of the day, I actually believe this and I’m watching myself to always be a kind human being. That way, I’ll be revived in the Fraternal Territory when I die (laughs).
Vida Becker interacts with various historical figures during her journey in Paramundo. What were the criteria for choosing these personalities and how do they contribute to the narrative?
This was one of the most difficult parts, because every historical figure is a potential character and whoever entered would open up a new universe of possibilities, research, scenes, etc. So the main criterion for choosing was “usefulness” for t h e growth of Vida, who is the main character and who will go through t h e journey. Based on this criterion, there were characters who entered and then left, as well as those who entered at the 45th minute. An interesting issue was the separation of t h e “Fearsome” and “Lovely” groups, because the criterion was the convenience of the story. When I choose Leonardo da Vinci to be lovable, it’s s o m e w h a t common sense, just as when I define Mussolini as fearsome. However, choosing Julius Caesar as fearsome and Alexander as lovable was random, to make the story more interesting and thought- provoking.
Part of the book emphasises the strength of women, with figures such as Joan of Arc, Dandara dos Palmares and Marielle Franco. What message do you hope to convey with these characters?
In addition to those you mentioned, this first book also includes Anita Garibaldi, Marie Curie, Jeanne Hachette, Maria Pita… All of them were women who “took m a t t e r s i n t o t h e i r o w n h a n d s ” and never put their heads down. This was one of the premises of the book, to bring strong women who would cross Vida Becker’s path with lessons in strength and resilience, which are two of the main values t h e girl will need to face her challenges. Throughout books 2 and 3, several marvellous women (real or not) will teach Vida many important lessons.
Your book also addresses issues that young people often face, such as fear, acceptance and uncertainty about the future. How do you hope your work will resonate with this audience?
Every story, in my opinion, should have powerful subtexts. One of the main reasons I wrote this book, apart from the adventure that readers will follow, was to bring home t h e message that fear, sadness and hatred (which are the three great forces that Vida Becker will have to learn to deal with and defeat) are feelings inherent i n every human being, but they can be mastered. I think that if readers, young or old, finish the trilogy with this in their souls, the task will have been accomplished.
The feminist component is an essential part of your work, inspired by conversations with your 14-year-old daughter. How did the experience o f being a father influence the creation of the character Vida?
I’m a feminist, I think women are light years ahead of men in terms of sensitivity, strength, perception of the world, solidarity, etc. We have a lot to learn from this female power, the world wouldn’t be in such chaos if they were in charge. I live with my wife and two daughters, and they are super-strong, have strong opinions, and are jealous of their roles in the world. In our conversations, I’ve always made a point of emphasising the importance o f having and defending their opinions, o f setting good goals, of being honest and never lowering their heads in the face of injustice. And the character Vida is a girl who is starting to fit into the world, is growing up, has many doubts and fears. Over the course of the trilogy she will grow into a very strong woman. I think this will inspire everyone who reads it, regardless of their gender.
The book celebrates the good side of the human being as a “superpower”. Can you tell us more about this idea and how it unfolds in the story?
Paramundo’s Manichean division between good and evil exacerbates the question o f what it is to have a good existence or an evil existence. Of course, it’s a fantastic world, there’s a whole logic that doesn’t apply precisely to our real world, but my idea was t o point out that being good, fair and honest in your real life is, in fact, a superpower that will take you much further than you realise.
What are the key messages you want readers to take away with them after reading “Vida Becker and the Storytelling Machine”?
Firstly, what I want most is for readers to have fun, enjoy the adventure and connect with the journey of Life. But if, at the end of the trilogy, you leave with t h e feeling that goodness is the greatest value to be persecuted, and that it is possible to master fear, sadness and hatred in order to have a good existence, everything will be even more rewarding.
How are your experiences as a musician and film writer reflected in your literary writing?
I can’t dissociate the three arts (literature, music, cinema). In fact, I’ve been a musician for much longer t h a n I ‘ v e been a writer, and I was a film student. Everything is very intertwined in my mind. I only write with a headset and loud music, I create soundtracks for m y books. In addition, I look for stories by playing one scene after another and trying to give the plot dynamism, as if it were a film (in this case, a fantasy film). It’s all part of my creative process.
Finally, what can readers expect from the next instalments of the trilogy? Are there more adventures and discoveries in store for Vida Becker?
Yes, there are many more adventures to come. The first book was the introduction to the fantastic world and all the logic, the passage of Life into this world, the appearance of t h e first characters, t h e initial conflicts. In books 2 and 3, t h e challenges will escalate, Vida will grow up and everything will become more a n d m o r e difficult, just as she will have more wisdom to face these obstacles. Readers can expect great adventures and a lot of emotion in a l l three books.
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