Hello and happy Sunday, everyone! Are you ready to meet my new cyber friend? She's brilliant and talented. We curiously share quite a bit, starting from the same name, the same initials and the same nationality. She lives in Arizona and is a successful writer as well as blogger. Her English is much, much better than mine. But she insists on flattering me ... Well, more in the interview. Read, enjoy and take your chances to win Maria Grazia Swan's latest release, Ashes of Autumn. (see rafflecopter form below)
Hello MGS! How curious it is we share the same name, Maria Grazia, and even the same initials, MGS! Pretty awkward we found each other out because people mixed us up on facebook. Now we’ve virtually discovered each other, what else do you think we share? I think we’ll know after this chit chat. So … Welcome and thanks for accepting my invitation!
We both speak Italian and English. My maiden name is Tognolo. Swan is the last name of my former husband. But, honestly, Swan is such an easy name to remember and so easy to spell and pronounce, so I kept it.
Let’s start talking about your living in the US, an Italian in Arizona. Were you born there, move there?
I was born in Italy, province of Vicenza (Veneto) and I’m proud to say I still speak the dialect dare I say better than Italian? But I moved around from a young age. I lived in Belgium, back to Italy, France, Germany, Italy and then United States. Once in the United States I lived in Arizona, moved to California and now back to Arizona. I may have been a gypsy in a past life.
You are a writer and a blogger. Did you always want to write?
Yes, yes, yes. As a child I used to tell stories in exchange for chocolate. Not any chocolate, mind you. Nope. Gianduia. I received my first award (short story) at the age of 14, in Belgium. It became difficult to write as I got married, had kids and moved around from country to country...eventually we settled in the USA, I learned English, the kids grew up,(not necessarily all in that order) and I was able to write again. Back then there wasn’t blogging, I wrote a monthly column for a magazine, about relationships. I always liked to see people happy so that was my contribution.
What is writing to you? Is it more an escape or a commitment?
It’s both. I wrote Love Thy Sister, book 1 of the Mina’s series while going through my messy divorce. Instead of taking sleeping pills, I stayed up all night, writing. Some parts are autobiographic, but no, I’m not telling which ones. Plus I had all those fictional murders, got it off my system. Now, I have a series under contract with Gemma Halliday Publishing, however, I only write from the heart. Yes, I cry along with my characters and they are so much in my head twice I almost crashed my car..It had to do with a sex scene.
Is blogging and social networking something you started to support and promote your writing books?
Social Networking is a joy and a curse. You know how that goes, some days are diamonds, and other days are stones. That pretty much sums up social media in my opinion. I met some wonderful people, discovered lost relatives and then had to hide from nuts. I hardly share anything personal, better safe than sorry. Then again, I’ve learned so much from social media. Blogging is a different story. I blog often about growing up in Italy. My past is so much a part of me; you’ll find pages of it in all my books. So I write about my loved ones, now mostly gone, and I post old pictures and I cry a lot...that’s life.
What are your most rewarding, most entertaining, most annoying online activities?
Most rewarding? Chatting with old friends I haven’t seen in like forever...reading positive reviews of my books, is like a good ‘pacca sulla schiena’ that tells me other people share my feelings. And finding people like you I would have never cyber met if not for Internet.
Entertaining? Some of the photos, activities shared by friends and online friends alike, sooner or later you bump into that gem that has you smile for the rest of the day. Okay, I’m not talking kittens and puppies although there is nothing wrong with that.
Most annoying? Aye, aye...the P.M. I swear, I open my tablet and see all those private messages on my facebook pages and I want to scream. It’s often from people who get the wrong impression of who you are and what you’re about. I remember once changing my avatar, I decided to put a real pic of myself instead of I love Valdagno and the messages came in fast and furious, by lonely men, spammers, scammers, you name it, there they were...Why? And the political or religious messages.
If you could choose to change something in your life, what would that be?
I have a sign above my desk that says WAIT. Does it tell you the story? I would like to be more patient and less judgmental.
How do you manage all your daily tasks? Have you got a special routine?
I’m extremely self disciplined. I either blame it or attribute it to my grandparents who raised me. It depends on the day and the mood...and yes, I set myself tasks and I don’t move to b until a is done. Not always a good trait, but so it goes. Too late to change.
And what about reading? What kind of reader are you?
I bore easily, love a good mystery. Then again, because I write that stuff, I’m trained to find faults. And I am oh, so picky. Loved Gone Girl. After reading that book I wanted to throw my computer in the trash, took me a week to get over it. That book was that good, made me feel like a wannabe writer. I grew up on Agatha Christie, but these days I find traditional cozy too slow for me. I love literary romance, if there is such genre. Anita Shreve comes to mind. And I find a great difference between Italian and American authors, even when they write the same genre...I find Italians rather verbose.
Let’s go back to writing and say something about your latest release. Tell us something about.
Ashes of Autumn is book 4 of the Mina’s adventures series. Mina’s was inspired by the Italian pop singer. The voice of my youth. So, she is a bit of an airhead if you will, my character, not Mina Mazzini. Very impulsive, trying to save the world when she has trouble saving herself. While writing book 2, Bosom Bodies, I stumbled into this Diego, a casual character, working as a cook, I was going to kill him off on chapter 2, but then the women in my critique group got very angry at me and so Diego’s life was spared. I don’t know what it is about him, but he literally sells my books. I get fan mail for Diego from women from 20 to 80s. So we have this intense love affair between Diego and Mina and on book 4, Ashes of Autumn, everything changes. I had no idea how the readers would react, I was however grateful that I have a P.O.Box as mailing address...so far so good. The reviews are coming in with some sadness, but hope. One reviewer said she cried through 1/3 of the book. I cried a lot more than that.
Where do you find inspiration for your heroes and heroines?
People I know, people I admire or despise. I’m pretty much 100% of this or that...it shows in my writing.
If you could get lost in a book, like the heroine of Lost in Austen (have you seen the miniseries? Brilliant!), which novel would you choose and why?
Bonjour Tristesse-Francoise Sagan. I’ve always been fascinated by the late 50s, early 60s. The fashion, the music, the movies, and the lifestyle. Those were years of change, big changes. At times I felt I was born either a little too late or a little too early...and loved every word of the book. Yes I read it in French.
Now I have Jacques Brel in my head.
That’s all for now, Maria Grazia. Good luck with your writing and your blogging. See you around the Net and … Thanks for being my guest!
This was fun and again, I must tell you how good your English is, it doesn’t sound..translated. Do I make sense?
It makes sense and it sounds ... good (**flattered**,**blushing**) Thank you!
About the author
Best selling author Maria Grazia Swan was born in Italy, but this rolling stone has definitely gathered no moss. She lived in Belgium, France, Germany, in beautiful Orange County, California where she raised her family, and is currently at home in Phoenix, Arizona--but stay tuned for weekly updates of Where in the World is Maria Grazia Swan?
As a young girl, her vivid imagination predestined her to be a writer. She won her first literary award at the age of fourteen while living in Belgium. As a young woman Maria returned to Italy to design for--ooh-la-la--haute couture. Once in the U.S. and after years of concentrating on family, she tackled real estate. These days her time is devoted to her deepest passions: writing and helping people find happiness.
Maria loves travel, opera, good books, hiking, and intelligent movies (if she can find one, that is). When asked about her idea of a perfect evening, she favors stimulating conversation, Northern Italian food and perfectly chilled Prosecco--but then, who doesn't?
And then there is her latest attempt at conquering the world of readers-who-love-Italy-and-anything- Italian. Yes, she has a new series out thanks to Gemma Halliday Publishing. The Lella York’s series has released 2 books to date; Murder under the Italian Moon and the newest addition, Death Under the Venice Moon
About the book
On the eve of the final sale of her mother’s business, Italian import Mina Calvi faces a crossroads. The road she dreams of foretells a life of rosy bliss in a quaint Laguna Canyon cottage, sipping cappuccino with her lover, Diego. When a chance detour brings her face to face with the love of her life caught in the wrong place, with the wrong crowd, that road to paradise takes a turn onto a rocky trail dotted by death, betrayal, and loneliness. Mina’s friends, old and newly found, rally to keep her safe while she navigates through intense drama and self doubt to finally find redemption.
Ashes of Autumn is possibly the most poignant sequence of Mina and Diego’s intensely obsessive love story.
Other books in the same series: