Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and thirty-second, is of non-fiction author Olga Vannucci.
Olga Vannucci was born in Italy, lived in Brazil, and came to the United States to attend Brown University. She lives in rural New Jersey with her beloved son, George. When he was seven years old, she realized quite suddenly that she hadn’t been back to Italy in ten years, and she went, and took him along. Then she went four more times, and she wrote a book about those trips, a mix of travelogue, personal history, and little anecdotes.
What’s a little different about the book is that Olga is both an Italian native and a tourist. She captures the little everyday happenings that a tourist may not, and she also visits the major cities, though there too she tends to experience them in her and George’s own way.
She is currently working on two new projects. She’s working on a book of travels with her son in the U.S. The other project is around cooking with her mother, who is a fantastic cook, while everyone knows that Olga can’t boil an egg. The book is built around her mother’s recipes, and around their relationship.
And now from the author herself:
I am a very shy and private person, and I have no idea what possessed me to share my thoughts with others! I think I felt that what I had to say was a little bit different, with a view low to the ground. What I find interesting is that my friends who have read the book say it sounds just like me. It’s written in the present tense, so it feels like you are along and I’m talking to you.
One of the most rewarding things about writing is finding out more about myself. There’s nothing like having to express a thought to help crystallize it. The other reward is hearing from others about the things that spoke to them in the book, and they range from the more profound to the totally mundane situations. Women will focus on the mothering aspects of the book, dealing with my son. Men enjoy my description of how Italians give directions: they start from a place you’ve never heard of, proceed vaguely, and stop well before your destination. Apparently that’s happened to others… They can relate, and I love when people tell me they can relate to something I wrote about.
It was hard to write about others and protect their privacy at the same time, particularly with my son. I find him very amusing, but he doesn’t intend to amuse me, and he is sensitive to it. He thinks I’m making fun of him basically. So I’m always walking that line, writing about him, but trying to be respectful of him.
My favorite stories are the quirky ones, like the sheep stampede that almost flattened us—not really, it wasn’t that bad, but it was a funny occurrence. We did so many different things, visiting with my ancient relatives, riding the bullet train to Rome, the only passengers without a snack, having coffee with my aunt in the morning, trying to dunk cookies in the little tiny cups, lots of hiking, with my son resorting to tears to make us stop. One nice thing about the book is that it covers lots of different material, from the very simple happenings to the tourist destinations.
I don’t know that the Italian heritage speaks to my son all that much yet, but I believe (and hope, but I do believe) that the experiences he has had build his knowledge and interests, and that he will find value in it all later on. A lot of my Italian-American friends relish their connection to Italy, and he will have had an extra special connection. I hope and believe… When he brings up something from the trips, I get all excited. Yes, he was there, he was paying attention, he got it!
I have a little website at http://olgavannucci.com with some pictures and some snippets from the book.
I also have a Facebook page that can be reached via http://travelswithgeorge.com. I update it pretty actively with some of the many photos I took during my trips.
And the book, both the printed and the Kindle versions, is available at Amazon.com.
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with YA thriller and suspense / romance author Daphne Olivier – the five hundred and thirty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.