Author Adriana Trigiani’s new book, “Very Valentine,” (Harper Collins - $25.99) is the first in a planned trilogy about an Italian family who has spent the past 80 years making custom wedding shoes at The Angelini Shoe company. The business has fallen on tough times. Its widowed matriarch, Teodoro, is aging. Her single granddaughter, Valentine Roncalli, has given up a teaching job to learn the trade. They’re struggling to find a place in the world of mass-produced footwear. The story follows the two dynamic women as they struggle to keep the business alive and find balance in their personal lives. Their journey takes them from the heart of Greenwich Village to the hills of Tuscany and the Isle of Capri.
The result is a book full of characters you love and places you want to visit.
Trigiani sat down with us to talk about her life, the writing process and what it’s like to have a best-seller.
News-Telegram: Let's pretend my readers have never heard of you. Give us a brief overview of your life up to now.
Adriana Trigiani: Here's the overview: raised in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, college at Saint Mary's in South Bend, Indiana- ever since New York City; began as a playwright, then wrote for television and film (still do) and first novel published in 2000. Nine novels later – still at it – and loving it! Married to Tim Stephenson, the lighting director for “Late Show with David Letterman” and one child, Lucia, age 6.
News-Telegram: How did you decide on writing as a career?
Adriana Trigiani: Oh, you have me laughing with this question. My good friend and a brilliant composer of opera (most recently “The Bonesetters Daughter” by Amy Tan) Stewart Wallace always laughs when we call anything related to artistic endeavor “a career.”
You see, it doesn't feel like a career, it feels like a life commitment – we'd do it for free – we actually do it for free, and when we're paid, it's priceless – so the compensation comes from the process – so you see, we can't call it a career.
Having said that, I've made my living as a writer since 1989 and it's a wonderful gift.
News-Telegram: Before becoming a novelist, you wrote for television and the movies. Share some of your best and/or worst "Hollywood" experiences.
Adriana Trigiani: Best: by far, in television, “The Cosby Show.”
Worst: When I was commissioned to write a play for a regional theater and then they didn't produce it. It was earthshattering to me at the time.
News-Telegram: You used your family background for the bones of "Very Valentine." What kind of reaction has your relatives had to "Very Valentine"?
Adriana Trigiani: Loosely, loosely. I write about families – so please don't assume that it's my particular family at all. I've also lived in the world amongst lots of other families, and sprinklings of those will make their way into my writing. I will go with my sister Pia's assessment of “Very Valentine” – she feels it's my best one yet.
News-Telegram: The characters in "Very Valentine" own and operate a custom shoe company. During the course of your book, you give your readers a detailed look into the fascinating world of a cobbler. Besides your relatives, who helped you appreciate the shoemaking process?
Adriana Trigiani: The research process helped me appreciate and honor the art of shoemaking. You really never know what you will discover when you begin researching a topic – and I'm always surprised and amazed at the new roads that appear – and how I'm looking for one thing and find another entirely.
News-Telegram: Do you own a pair of custom made shoes? If so, what makes them so special?
Adriana Trigiani: Yes, I own a pair of sandals made by Costanzo Ruocco on the Isle of Capri. What makes them special? Costanzo made them- and they are lavender crystals with silver leather straps and silver mesh embellishments. Bellissima!
News-Telegram: You seem to really love New York City. What is the best thing about living in the Big Apple?
Adriana Trigiani: The best: The wee hours of the morning- and the start to the day as the sun comes up – New York City comes alive – and it's always a magnificent treat to be here for that.
News-Telegram: Give us a glimpse into the day of a working writer. What's your schedule when you're working on a new story?
Adriana Trigiani: I put in an 8-hour day – often broken up- but starting early- and going until my daughter is done at school. I then, before turning the novel input in two solid weeks – where I don't get out of my sweats – it's balletic and athletic – that portion – as I read the entire book aloud.
News-Telegram: Do you like doing publicity for a new book? What's your favorite part of promoting ... and your least favorite?
Adriana Trigiani: I love meeting my readers – that's the BEST and my favorite part – I learn from my readers and they share their experiences- and to call this a job in any sense is really not accurate – it's a gift to me.
The least favorite part is the actual travel. I know way too much about the Atlanta airport for example.
News-Telegram: I noticed on your website that you are available to meet with local book clubs. How much fun is that?
Adriana Trigiani: I have a ball – I call in – and we talk about the book they have selected. These clubs- ten years going- are now friends- and we meet annually- and on April 25th in New York City, I'm hosting the First Annual World's Biggest Book Club- a thank you lunch!
News-Telegram: One of the main characters of "Very Valentine" is Valentine Roncalli, a young woman who is doing her best to balance work, family and love. Is Valentine's life typical of most of the women in your generation?
Adriana Trigiani: Absolutely. We talk about how we can achieve the balance of personal and professional – and how to take care of our parents as they get older- and raise our children – and work within the walls of a career. Sometimes it's too much- but when it comes to life- better to have too much than not enough.
News-Telegram: Valentine's relationship with her beloved grandmother, Teodora Angelini, is very special. What binds them together?
Adriana Trigiani: They are bound by love.
News-Telegram: With your ties in the entertainment industry, please tell us that the Angelini trilogy is going to make it to the big screen.
Adriana Trigiani: We're working on that right now!
For more information visit Trigiani’s website, www.adrianatrigiani.com
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