Thursday, 23 March 2017

Interview - Nina Romano

Today I am delighted to welcome to the blog author Nina Romano, author of the Wayfarer Trilogy.

I began by asking her: ~ You write full length fiction and poetry. Do you keep these two very much separate, or do you find yourself working on both prose and poetry simultaneously?

I do keep them separate.  It seems I can hear only one whistle at a time.  I always have a poetry file going for each year and the poems are at different stages of development—so I have many drafts of the same poem.  When I receive an acceptance for a poem, I write a note of the date and in which journal or literary review it will appear.  But my head doesn’t gear up for a poetry collection unless I’ve put together a chapbook of poems around a theme or have a particular premise to cull from and many poems already published that will work as a unit

Fiction becomes sketched on a completely different canvas.  Two of my novels were born of published short stories, one from a treatment and a current one is from a novella.  

Speaking of short stories, how different is the discipline, compared to full length novels? Do you find one technique easier than the other? And when an idea comes to you, do you immediately know whether it will be a short story, or something longer?

This is a “loaded” and difficult question.  I haven’t written a short story in quite a while, but I did finish a novella a few weeks ago.    

Let me preface the answer by saying first that, for me, I think poetry is a gift from God.  Images, elevated language, strong nouns and verbs, rhythm, metaphors—they all come to me randomly and I put them down on paper—any paper, envelopes, bills, grocery lists, theater playbills—whatever.  Then I put those snatches of phrases or beginnings into a file by year. There I develop and revise them until I find the poem hidden within.  

In Grad school at Florida International University, I had a fabulous poetry professor and mentor, Campbell McGrath. He taught me to find the energy in the poem and go with it.  

I find short stories to be the hardest form of writing for me because of the compression.  Novels give you so much time to develop the story. I always wanted to be a novelist—it’s challenging and I get to follow my characters around for much longer—that’s why I love it. 

Ideas on the other hand, abound.  They’re all around us.  An idea, will present itself to me already in the genre it needs to find a home in—I’ll know—by the type of inspiration it is, if it’ll be part of a poem, or go into a short piece, or become a novel scene.  That inner knowledge is born from years of writing—years, and years, and years.  

Can you tell us about the Wayfarer Trilogy? What is the premise, and where did the idea come from?

In a word: Giacomo.  He is in all three of the novels and he is the character I was most challenged to write.  Giacomo is loosely drawn from my grandfather’s like.  He was in the Italian Navy and travelled to China as a sailor in the Boxer Rebellion.  Giacomo is the wayfarer, but in a sense all of my strong women characters in this trilogy are wayfarers also, in the sense that they’re all going, moving, traveling. The word WAYFARER comes from the Middle English weyfarere, from wey, way way plus farere—traveler, and from faren—to go.  The word’s first known use was in the 15th century.

Lian travels all over China to find her lover, Giacomo, in The Secret Language of Women.  
Angelica travels from her secure Sicilian family nest and the desire to protect herself from intimacy into the loving arms of Giacomo in Lemon Blossoms. And Marcella, Giacomo’s daughter in In America, travels the gamut of wanting to become a professional singer to the realization that she was born too soon and was destined, instead, to be a wife and mother.  

Obviously, since book three is published, there will be no more in the series. So what's next? Are you working on anything at the moment?

I’m still working on historical fiction and romance, but a completely different genre—Westerns. I’m devising a novel of the old west set between New Mexico and St. Louis, but because I’m a Gemini, I’m working on two novels at once.  And I think I’m falling in love with my character Luke Wolf, in Darby’s Decision (working title), and my protagonist, Cayo Bradley in the other—I’ve even written poems about him that can be found in my poetry collection: Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows.  

You've presented several times at the Miami Book Fair. What words of advice would you give any new or aspiring author thinking of going to their first book fair?

Appearing at the Miami Book Fair International is prestigious.  There’s no denying that.  It’s a great honor and privilege to present a book at the Fair. I thank Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books and Books and the founder of the Fair, for having offered me the opportunity to read and present five times from my poetry and fiction.  

While the Miami Book Fair itself is free except for sending in three copies of your book, here’s the truth.   I believe if you have an already established career and have a recognizable author name with a best-selling title, you will do well in sales, but if you are a beginner or midlist author, while you will have an audience, you should not expect to sell many copies.  

I’m going to be brutally honest here.  The majority of popular authors are fully funded by large publishers.  I think that the bulk of new authors are disappointed by the fact that they are not subsidized because they have small, independent publishers or are even self-published.  The bottom line is that attending readers save their pennies for those “bigwig” authors in order to have the books autographed by them.  

The question remains: who is footing the bill for travel, housing, meals, and expenses?  If it’s a big publisher, then go for it.  But if you’re not living in Florida then you must calculate the cost—is it worth the time, travel, effort and money plus the emotional cost of perhaps not selling many copies or not even selling one? And I think this probably applies to most books fairs.  

Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity to speak with you.  I so appreciate it.

Thanks to Nina for taking the time to talk to me.
Find Nina: Amazon Author Page
Nina's Website

I've just heard today from Nina that: LEMON BLOSSOMS,Book #2 of the Wayfarer Trilogy, is a 2016 FOREWORD INDIES Book Award FINALIST. Thanks Foreword Reviews and Turner Publishing. Congratulations!

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