Meet the Author:
Amazon reviewers acclaim Speranza’s debut novel as
“great storytelling…[prose] flows with such beauty you are holding your breath to eagerly read each word!”
Hello, Susan. It’s great to have you with me today. Tell me a little about yourself and about your life in Vermont.
I was born in New York City and grew up on suburban Long Island. This became the setting of my novel, The Tale of Lucia Grandi, the Early Years.
Because Long Island is surrounded by water, all the things associated with water such as the ocean, the beaches, boating, fishing and swimming are an important part of the culture there. But that seemed to have so little influence on me; from the time I was a child, I always longed for mountains. The setting of many of the books I read was always rural — full of pastures, highlands, valleys, farms. It took many years – and a divorce – to help me achieve my dream. Eleven years ago I left Long Island, moved to Vermont and never looked back. Now, every day when I look out at my meadow and the mountain beyond, I know this is where I belong. I don’t miss the water or the ocean at all. And if on occasion I want to experience it again, I just travel three hours east to the coast of Maine and I’m good!
Well, Susan, when you’re hankering for a taste of the coast, give me a call; it would be great to share a cup of lobster stew with a fellow author.
I never refuse invitations, so be careful…that’s how I wound up in Vermont. My friend kept inviting me up, so after several years of visiting Vermont, I moved there permanently – and I bought the house next door to her!
The invitation’s an open one, Susan… Tell us a little about your family life.
Well, after a very unfriendly divorce, I took an eight-year hiatus, at which point I met a wonderful man (a fellow New Yorker transplanted to Vermont) and we are now engaged. There is definitely life after divorce.
I have many children but they are of the four-legged variety… years ago I took up the hobby of dog showing and breeding and have produced many Pekingese champions. The dogs I have now are the great-great-grandchildren of my original (or foundation) dogs. They sometimes seem to cost as much as human children — I think I have singlehandedly put all of my Vet’s offspring through college. Unfortunately, I can’t claim them as dependents at tax time…
How long have you been writing? What type of writing do you normally do?
I’ve been writing all my life. Even as a child I found communicating through writing easier than speaking. If I needed to say something important or explain something, I found I could do it better through writing, where I could measure my words and tame my thoughts. As a child I would write books and stories — imitating the books I loved. Some of them I’m sure involved copyright infringement as they were imitation to the point of plagiarism, but it was good practice and eventually, I learned to be original. When I was an adolescent, full of drama and raw emotion as most adolescents are, I found writing poetry was more fulfilling. I never really wrote for anyone but myself. The first work I wrote for public viewing was The City of Light — a fantasy or allegory — about the end of the world. That book has recently been reissued as an eBook. The Tale of Lucia Grandi is my first novel.
Can you give us a brief synopsis of your new book?
In this novel, a dying old woman is asked to tell the story of her life and so she tells about growing up in a troubled, warring suburban family in the 1950s and ’60s. It’s written as a memoir, where Lucia is the silent observer recording incidents in her family and illustrating the conflicts between them. Her conflict with her family grows as she grows, leading to the final crisis.
What prompted you to write Lucia Grandi?
I had so many stories I wanted to tell, but I’m not really a short story writer. A few years ago, while I was waiting to have my car repaired, an 83-year-old woman came into the waiting room where I sat by myself. She began talking to me — and before I knew it, she was telling me the story of her life. I thought of that afternoon when I searched for a framework in which to set the stories I wanted to tell. It seemed very compelling – an old woman looking back on a life she claims was not very interesting; yet, as the novel progresses, the stories she is telling are very interesting indeed.
Do you have a favorite line from the book?
There is actually a line Lucia (the narrator) says several times throughout the book in slightly different ways: “It was simple, really, all I needed was a kind word, a human touch – which never came…”
Who is your favorite character and why?
This is a difficult question in the same way that I find it difficult to answer people who ask me if I have a favorite dog. I always say no — I love them all (and I do!); but I am closer to some than to others. The same with my characters. I love them all, but some I had more fun with, and some were more challenging, harder to get right. With the mother, Ruth, it was difficult to find that balance; it’s easy to characterize someone as evil or selfish, but even such people as these occasionally have some redeeming qualities. Ruth was characterized as hard, cold, domineering; but there are many moments when her vulnerability slips through. I had to make sure that I didn’t make her one-dimensional. I had a lot of fun with Lucia’s sister, Lynn – the eternal drama queen. Again, I had to work hard at preventing her from becoming a one-dimensional character.
What was the hardest part about writing your book?
The hardest part about writing this book was finding the time to write it in the midst of an overwhelming, demanding life. I tried to get up at 4 a.m. to write, but I’m not a morning person. I can’t think straight that early. So I had to settle for writing on weekends, holidays and summer vacations. That’s why it took me six years to write my first novel.
Do you do anything besides write?
Most writers have day jobs — and mine is a high school librarian. The advantage is that I get a summer vacation when I can write every day. Writing a book seemed a natural extension of being a librarian; after all those years of being the keeper-of-the-books, I finally wrote one.
How can my readers get a copy of LUCIA GRANDI, The Early Years?
It’s available in print and as an eBook from Amazon and Barnes&Noble. It’s also available from the publisher, Brook House Press: www.brookhousepress.org. It can also be special-ordered through local bookstores.
What’s next for you, Susan?
The ending of the book requires a sequel. I’m not overly fond of sequels, but it was either that or writing an 800 page book, which I really didn’t think the public would go for. Hopefully, it won’t take me another six years to write that one!
Thank you, Susan Speranza, for sharing your story with me today. It was great to find out more about you and about your superb novel. I highly recommend Susan’s book to fiction lovers everywhere. Susan Speranza’s tale will hold your attention from the first word to the last:. This story of the human yearning to be loved, to be safe, cared for and understood, is told in words that will tug at your heart. My copy of THE TALE OF LUCIA GRANDI, The Early Years arrived at my doorstep last Tuesday. Don’t miss out… Order yours today!
Author Interview by Bette A. Stevens