1) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Italy and came to the U.S. for college. I’ve been here ever since. I live in rural New Jersey with my son, George. When he was seven years old, I realized suddenly that I hadn’t been back to Italy in ten years, and I went, and took him along. Then I went four more times, and I wrote a book about those trips, a mix of travelogue, personal history, and little anecdotes: “Travels With George.”
2) Do you have a day job as well?
I have a full-time job that involves numbers rather than words. I’m divorced and I write on Sunday afternoons when my son is with his father.
3) When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing my one book in my late 40s and finished it two years later. It takes a lot of personal discipline to write a whole book, and I did not have it when I was younger.
4) How did you choose the genre you write in?
I wrote the type of book I like to read. I love to read travel memoirs and books about exotic places. I am inspired and awed by writers who put themselves out there, who are able to observe and interpret very different situations, and who can be funny too. Two books I have loved recently are “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight” by Alexandra Fuller, about growing up in Africa, and “Running Away to Home” by Jennifer Wilson, about Croatia.
5) Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I went with self-publishing because I didn’t have the patience to pursue other publishers. What I like about self-publishing is that it’s all mine, I created the book cover, I chose the font, I am doing all my own promotion, and it’s been incredibly fun and very rewarding.
6) How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Early on, I had an opportunity to read from my book at a gathering of 150 women through an organization called New Act Women in New Jersey. If you are as shy as I am, I would not necessarily recommend this large an event. I was extremely nervous, but it went really well. Once I realized it was working, that the audience was listening and responding, I relaxed. I sold a bunch of books right there, and it was a great way to put myself out there and to get an instant response. I realized that my book had appeal.
It came to me suddenly as I was driving through Doylestown, PA, one day. It’s based on Steinbeck’s book “Travels With Charley” about his travels with his dog, though I am no Steinbeck of course. When I told my son about it (he’s the George in “Travels With George”), he said, “So I’m the dog?”
8) What project are you working on now? Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I’m working on two new projects. I’m working on a book of travels with my son in the U.S. America is so varied, there’s so much to see and do. The other project is around cooking with my mother. She is a fantastic cook, and I can’t boil an egg. I am building a book around her recipes, and around her and me. I think it will be really cool.
9) What has been the best compliment given to you as an author?
The best compliment 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.
10)Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up! There are so many options today to publish and distribute and get the word out, and it can be done without a big financial investment. All you need is the investment of time. Given that this is your passion, you want to spend your time on it anyway. And there are so many people who are open to help, don’t be afraid to ask. Putting your thoughts out there to share with others is a gift, and people respond very kindly.
1) If you were a superhero (or villain!) what would your power be? Would you wear a cape?
I’m the most curious person on earth, so my power would be … knowing things. It would be so great!
2) Chocolate, Strawberry or Vanilla?
Definitely chocolate! With mix-ins.
3) The light side or the dark side?
The light side, the airy side, the side of beauty and novelty and independence.
4) Do you have deep dark secret? How about a shallow grey one?
I’d say shallow grey ones, multiple ones, and they’re not really secrets, just things I would just as soon not blurt out unprovoked.
5) What sort of coffee would you order? Simple coffee, complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?
Tall latte and it bugs me that it’s tall and not small.
6) If you could live off of chocolate would you?
I kind of do, I live on chocolate ice cream, with mix-ins.
7) Have you ever lost your wallet/purse? Did you find it again if so?
I’m a compulsive double and triple checker, so I would be very upset if I lost my wallet or purse or car keys or phone. I would have to switch to quadruple checking. I could go mad altogether.
8) When you rip out a page from a spiral notebook, do you leave the strip with the tabby pieces in? Or do you have to remove them?
I have to remove them because they tickle the notebook.
Travels With George: A Memoir Through the Italy of My Childhood
By Olga Vannucci
Don’t miss Olga’s website at http://olgavannucci.com with some pictures and some snippets from the book.
or her Facebook page that can be reached via http://travelswithgeorge.com.
Her book is on Amazon, both the printed and the Kindle versions, at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=olga+vannucci