“New” Author Interview
It was an honor to be interviewed by Abby Jayne Slater Fairbrother of https://annebonnybookreviews.com I feel privileged to be included alongside so many accomplished authors. In addition to my personal background, the interview concentrates on my novel Bridge of Sighs and Dreams, my inspiration for the book, my research, my writing background and style, etc. You may recognize a few of the questions and answers from past interviews, but check it out. There are some new Q&A’s that you might find interesting. Cheers! Read the complete interview below, or click on this link: https://annebonnybookreviews.com/2017/11/16/qa-with-pamela-allegretto-author-of-bridge-of-sighs-and-dreams-ww2fiction-historicalfiction/
Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?
A) I attended Colorado University Extension in Denver and later moved to Florence, Italy where I studied art and Italian history at L’Università Per Gli Stranieri. To finance my education, my job résumé was as colorful as the Renaissance city itself. I shivered as an artist’s model and sang the blues in catacomb nightclubs. I worked as an interpreter/translator for a textile company and hawked leather goods to tourists.
Back on US soil, the colors on my résumé remained vibrant. In addition to Italian teacher at Berlitz School of Languages and a two-year stint as a Playboy Bunny, I added hairdresser/salon owner, to my palette. Classes in writing, cartooning, and art filled whatever free hours remained.
In 1996 I sold the hair salon and moved with my husband to Hawaii, where, for the following ten years, I devoted myself fulltime to painting and writing. Now, a resident of Connecticut, I divide my time between writing, painting, and Italian poetry translations.
In addition to my current novel, Bridge of Sighs and Dreams, my published books include L’Alba di Domani, and Immagini both are dual-language poetry books written in collaboration with Luciano Somma, two-time winner of Italy’s Silver Medal of the President of the Republic. My writing has appeared in four other Italian poetry books and in Italian literary journals that include: The English Anthology of The Italian-Australian Writer’s Literary Academy, Omero, La Mia Isola, and Poeti Nella Societa`. I have published book and CD covers as well as cartoons, and my art is collected worldwide.
Nazi-occupied Rome sets the stage for Bridge of Sighs and Dreams, where the lives of two women collide in an arena of deception, greed, and sacrifice.
Following an allied attack, Angelina Rosini flees to Rome from her bombed-out village and a ruthless Nazi officer bent on revenge. In Rome, the spirited portrait artist channels her creativity into the art of survival for herself and her young daughter. Unwilling to merely endure, and armed with ingenuity, wit, and unyielding optimism, she enters the shadow world of the Resistance where she zigzags through a labyrinth of compassionate allies and cunning spies.
Meanwhile, Lidia Corsini quenches her lust for power and wealth by turning in Jews to the Nazi Police attaché with whom she has formed an alliance. Her spiral into immorality accelerates as swiftly as the Jewish population dwindles, and soon neither her husband nor her son is immune to her madness.
Once Angelina discovers the consequences of Lidia’s greed, she conspires to put an end to the treacheries; but in doing so, she becomes the target of Lidia’s most sinister plot.
Bridge of Sighs and Dreams is a story of betrayal, dignity, and purpose that highlights the brutality toward Italian citizens, under both Mussolini’s Fascist regime and the Nazi occupation, and illustrates the tenacity of the human spirit.
Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?
A) The tutelage of my Italian family launched my love for the Italian language the moment the first trilled “R” danced on my tongue and tickled my teeth. Animated conversations around the supper table often veered from current events to life in Italy during World War 2 and the impact the War had on our family. These conversations piqued my curiosity and nagged me to learn more.
I was 17-years-old when I took my first trip back to Italy with my parents. I met my Italian aunts and uncles in their Southern Italian village of Faicchio and listened to their personal accounts of the War. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know.
After high school graduation, I moved to Florence, Italy and attended L’Università Per Gli Stranieri, which heightened my passion for Italian history, especially those War years. My Florentine friends all had personal family stories relating to the Nazi-occupation and the brave Italians in the Resistance Movement. These first-hand accounts were a direct contradiction to the denigrating jokes I heard while growing up about Italian cowardice. I determined that someone should write a book about the Resistance. Well, my research revealed that there were already dozens of books on the subject. However, the more I read, the stronger my conviction to write my own novel based on my family’s experience. I also felt compelled to write a war novel in which the women don’t play the role of wallpaper or objects of amusement to soldiers and politicians. I wanted my women to take center stage in a behind-the-lines battle between good and evil.
As is often the case, life got in my way; and I shelved my anticipated novel for a few decades. Then one year, on what had become my annual visit to Italy, a conversation with my aunt ignited my shelved idea for a war novel. She told me about the suffering under Mussolini’s Fascist Regime, and how life in Faicchio became a daily challenge to survive. She related how after Mussolini was overthrown, the Nazis commandeered her home and banished her, 8-months-pregnant with her third child, and her two small children from their home with only the clothes on their backs.
By now, I was determined to find out more. I visited one cousin who supplied me with a detailed accounting of the Nazi occupation of the Village of Faicchio written by one of his professors, who had been a teenager during that time. It took me the remainder of my visit to translate this eye-opening account. Strangely enough, a compassionate German soldier, whom I had initially incorporated into my fiction, was real, and the professor had fleshed out his back-story. After I left my family’s farm and traveled toward Rome, I spent some time in the hill-top village of Anagni, where on a narrow side-street I stumbled across Tarsie Turri, the tarsia lignea (inlaid wood) workshop of Carlo Turri. Since one of the proposed characters in my novel practiced this intricate art form, I found this a serendipitous occasion. Not only was I able to glean information about tarsia lignea, but the data came from the best possible source. It seems Carlo Turri’s work has been collected by dignitaries world-wide, including Pope Paul and the President of the Republic. Carla Turri, Carlo’s daughter who carries on the tradition, gave me a detailed tour and demonstration of this Renaissance art form. Unfortunately, due to story “flow,” I was not able to include in my novel as much information about this art form as I would have liked. However, that personal experience is one I hold dear, and I consider the knowledge I gained to be priceless.
My next stop was Rome, where again fate stepped in. I came upon a vintage market, not far from Piazza di Spagna. There, I encountered a merchant who dealt in World War 2 paraphernalia. I had wanted to incorporate information on the treatment of Italian Jews under the Nazi occupation, and here I found real-time publications regarding the events that took place in Rome during that time-period. The discovery of personal letters and journals augmented my study. The consistent manifestation of hope, scribbled across those abandoned pieces of paper on which the ink now weeps, afforded a valuable glimpse into the Italian sentiment during this horrific period. I deemed all this information not to be coincidence, but rather a sign that I was meant to continue with my novel.
For once, I was eager to leave Italy, but only because it was time to write my novel. I concluded: if not now, when? My next step was to flesh-out my characters. I sought an eclectic collection of complex individuals, each with his or her own values, lack of values, dreams, and goals. I wanted Bridge of Sighs and Dreams to be a story of betrayal, dignity, and the tenacity of the human spirit. However, I thought it was also necessary to inject some light humor, not merely for the reader’s benefit, but to show that a sense of humor can serve as a valuable shield during dire times.
I will say, to weave my fiction around the time-line of events that I wanted to highlight was tricky, but I didn’t want to alter facts to fit my fiction; instead, I utilized truth to enhance my characters and their story.
Q) What are your favorite authors and recommended reads?
A) Alberto Moravia and Elsa Morante have been the most influential authors. They both write with such visual and emotional truth that reading their work is pure joy. Alberto Moravia’s: Two Women and Elsa Morante’s: History are two of my all-time favorite novels. I am also a fan of Chekov, Dostoyevsky, Gorky, Donna Leon, and Agatha Christie.
Q) What were your childhood/teenage favorite reads?
A) My favorite childhood book was Collodi’s Pinocchio. I am still a big fan of Collodi and have 8 editions of Pinocchio in Italian and also in English by various translators. I do remember reading the Nancy Drew mysteries when I was about 8-years-old, and I was an instant fan of whodunits.
Q) What has been your favorite moment of being a published author?
A) I am deeply touched and elated when a reader takes the time to let me know through email, website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, etc. that they enjoyed my book.
Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?
A) I won’t name names; they know who they are. They are my long-time friends who read my early stories and cartoons and laughed in the right places and cried in the right places and asked for more.
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*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.
Thank you for this opportunity. I appreciate your kindness and generosity.