Adriana Trigiani's many bestselling novels include Big Stone Gap, The Queen of the Big Time, and Very Valentine. She also has founded a comedy troupe and has worked as an actor, a TV writer and producer, and a documentary film director. She lives in New York.
Q: Your most recent novel, The Shoemaker's Wife, is based on the story of your grandparents, and you have said that you worked on it for many years, in between other novels. Why did you keep coming back to their story?
A: I was enchanted by their love story -- they were two strong, compelling people and they lived through difficult times -- and of course, there was also great joy. Love and loss were ribbons through their stories and I wanted to follow those themes to the end.
Q: In your books, you often focus on characters who, like yourself, have Italian-American heritage. What about the Italian-American experience provides a good atmosphere for your novels?
A: Anyone who is Italian, or if you're not and you've visited Italy, you are aware that the Italian people know how to live. They make food from their gardens, love music and art and are surrounded by antiquities that feed their sense of history. They believe in the family -- and I guess growing up in that environment I was aware what a treasure the experience of growing up Italian was -- and the gift of that has never left me.
Q: You also write for young adults. Why did you decide to start a YA series, and is the process of writing those books different for you from the process of writing novels for adults?
A: It is different writing for young adults. I'm aware of how a story can affect them -- the values I present should hopefully be positive -- and most importantly, I hope the writing is sharp, intelligent and fun -- a lot like the young adults I know.
Q: In addition, you've written a nonfiction book about both your grandmothers, Don't Sing at the Table. What lessons did your grandmothers teach you that have especially stuck with you over the years?
A: My grandmother Lucia taught me that no one has to see how many times you rip out the hem. There are many revisions on the way to the best work. My grandmother Viola taught me to stand up for myself. This is a gift that keeps on giving -- character and strength come from believing in yourself -- and make us better able to serve the people around us.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am editing the final Valentine novel called The Supreme Macaroni Company. It comes out November 5th.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb