I was born in Pisa and am happily Roman by adoption. Four children, two affectionate and two scatter-brained, but statistically the right outcome. In their elementary school notebooks their sincere declarations are crystallized: “You are the most beautiful mom in the world. I will always love you,” just like those of my husband’s – a feminist champion like everyone who, however, would kill me if there weren’t fresh salad for dinner so much so that, out of desperation, I planted some out on our balcony.
I have to say that I got a good deal because next to the dark green of the verbena and the cytisus, the pale green of the salad looks very good, and I apologize as I gently cut off some of its leaves every evening. I have two noisy sisters; some long-time friends who love me; and, for nearly the past 10 years, a special friend, Dona, who lives in America. Separated by an ocean, we are like two neighbors living on the same floor. If I decided to create this site, I owe it to her encouragement.
I write in my spare time at night because fortunately computers don’t make any noise. I used to write closed up in the kitchen so I wouldn’t disturb my sleeping family with the tapping of my typewriter. Now I have a century-old desk all to myself with drawers as deep as caves, full of notes, pens, pencils, scissors, rulers, cookies, chocolate and who knows what else at the bottom. I have a red cat about three feet long, named Ketchup. He is a beautiful Abyssinian, wild and spoiled, who is perfectly bi-lingual in Italian and German. I found him when he was very small, lost in a courtyard. Now he holds a fundamental place in the life of our entire family.
Dona, my reporter friend, suggests I answer these questions so that my readers will know me better.
Why do you write? To feel peaceful.
When did you begin to write? In elementary school. “Why, I don’t know,” as Mimì says.
In the fourth grade, they gave me a composition to write about: “Dinner with your family”. I wrote that I lived in a hut and that in the evening my mother would light a fire under the pot in the fireplace to cook polenta while the fire’s glow lit our children’s faces as we sat near the fire. I described my mother’s sooty hands, the shadows of the night, etc.
“Excellent!” the teacher told me and gave me 100%. She shared the composition with the entire class. “Learn!” she told her students. “Look how well this little girl writes!” When I ran home clutching my composition and bursting with happiness, all hell broke loose. “You made me look so bad,” my mother yelled. “Where do you live? In a hut? Don’t you live in a civilized home, with electric lights, a gas stove, a maid? My hands are dirty? And when did I ever cook in the fireplace! You have to stop making up these stupid stories!”
From that time on, I still wrote but secretly. At 11, I sent my poems to a literary magazine, “Paper, Pen, and Inkwell”, which praised them a lot and then published them, but I didn’t tell anyone.
I took up writing again later on, entering literary contests and winning many awards. But I couldn’t understand why a work that won first prize in one contest would receive “honorable mention” in another. I would like to be judged only by my readers, who don’t have constraints and who decide with their hearts.
Which genre do you like best? I prefer mysteries but I use the framework of the mystery to talk about many other things.
What are your major obstacle(s) to writing? What with my family and my job, finding time to write has not been easy. I used to write on the storied portable Olivetti Lettera 22 because I could write on it anywhere. My first pc was a gift from my sister. The systems case alone took up four square meters of space. Finally, I got a computer and a desk all to myself.
How did you find a publisher? My sister sent the manuscript of my first novel, "Luna piena e gatti neri" [Full Moon and Black Cats] to Professor Campailla, who didn’t answer for so long that I told myself he didn’t like it. Then, one evening, I got a phone call: “I thought I must be reading a romance novel,” he said. “I was blown away...”
He brought me to the attention of his editor with a lovely preface that I still thank him for. My only regret is that they changed the title that I loved so much to "Via delle Quattro palle" [Four Balls Street].
How many stories and novels have you written so far? I have written many short stories. My latest novel is being published as we speak. I’m working on a new one that starts at the turn of the 20th century and ends today. It has so many themes and events that I feel overwhelmed, but the characters are all real and have to be put in their historical context. This novel begins with a real, a very real murder. That morning, when the police entered the home of the widow on the first floor, I was there, too. The structure of the mystery.