Post image for New York Times Best-Selling Author Adriana Trigiani:  “My [Italian] heritage is the foundation of everything I do.”

New York Times Best-Selling Author Adriana Trigiani: “My [Italian] heritage is the foundation of everything I do.”

by Maryann Pisano on September 21, 2012

Reading an Adriana Trigiani book is like hot cocoa on a snowy day: wonderful, heart warming, and cozy.  Her characters are charming and hilarious, with rich backgrounds.  This New York Times best-selling author chatted with Emme about her Italian roots, feminism, and her next big project.

Adriana Trigiani

Emme:  Both Valentine and Lucia are working women, more interested in a career than a man.  Is this a reflection of your career?
Adriana Trgiani:  Both my grandmothers were madly in love with their husbands and were married until their husbands died.  They worked all their married lives and then as widows, both well past retirement age.  I guess I followed their lead and built my life as they built theirs- and so far so good!


 Do you think their stories reflect feminism?
My definition of feminism is pretty simple.  When a woman works, saves and is responsible for her life in all aspects, health, finances, dreams and goals, she is
free to make the best choices for her life.  Feminism is about freedom, choice and the unlimited possibilities of the intellect and imagination.  Actually, this little thumbnail works for our sons too!


Trigiani's novel, "Brava, Valentine"

Have you traveled to the destinations you’ve written about such as Capri, Arezzo, and Buenos Aires? 
A magical trip to Italy 7 years ago to learn to make shoes on the Isle of Capri hosted by my lifelong friend Gina Casella put us in the boutique tour business.  We created a company that offers my readers the unique experience of walking in the steps of my characters.  So, you can go to Capri with Valentine; all of Italy through the eyes of Teodora, Nella and Ave Maria, and we have walking tours and tasting tours in Greenwich Village.  We offer elegant, inspirational and fun tours filled with events.  You never have to reach for your purse-ever- Gina takes good care of each traveler.  Your return home ready to face the world!


Tell me about your childhood.  How did your love of writing grow?  Was there a particular book(s) that you enjoyed?
I was the third child of seven- so that pretty much shaped everything I am.  I was always part of a team.  So, I like teams, but being part of a big dynamic gave me a real desire to be alone.  Writing is such a solitary job, and the perfect complement to the fabulous chaos of growing up in a big family.  My favorite book as a girl was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.


What books or series do you currently enjoy reading?
I’m a big reader, mostly non-fiction.  I love biographies.


How did you start writing books and get published?  
Well, I was such a reader and actually writing a book seemed like such a dream to me.  But a good friend said, take a shot at it.  I had spent most of my writing career writing plays, screenplays and television shows.  So, I sat down one early morning after having written a screenplay called Big Stone Gap, and began the journey of taking the character of Ave Maria and writing her life- it became Big Stone Gap and that same friend, (Suzanne Gluck) found a home for the book at Random House.


Trigiani and Actor Mario Cantone

How long does it take you to finish a novel?
It varies.  Usually a year- but The Shoemaker’s Wife took about 25 years!


Where does your inspiration come from when creating characters?
Real life- and my imagination.


"The Shoemaker's Wife": A Master Piece!

When you begin to write a novel, do you create an outline first?  
I always outline in longhand.  I have a lot of fun naming the characters.  One of the great benefits of travel is I hear names in the air like music- write them down and later, they become characters.


What is your relationship like with Michael Patrick King?  Have you ever written anything for Sex and the City?
Michael is my best man friend.  No, but if you look closely, you see my books placed in scenes in the television show and movies.



What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?


Do you plan on turning any of your novels into a movie? 
Four of the novels are in development for movies.


What are your currently working on?
Ciao, Valentine, the third in the Valentine series.



The Italian families in your novels are so warm and loving.  How do you feel about the surge of negative portrayals of Italian- Americans in the media?
I worry about all negative portrayals- as women, we should be outraged at the nonsense.  We are so busy working and raising families, there is only so much time to take on every stereotype and slur- having said that, the life well lived, and the career based in service to my reading is aspirational.  I write my characters as they are born in my imagination- and I was surrounded by some dazzling characters growing up, machine operators in sewing factories, my grandmothers, working women, so you see lots of that in my work.  As for the men, machinists, quarry miners, iron ore mining, shoemakers- their hard work inspired me too.  The totality of the immigrant experience is close to my heart, the struggle, the guts and the love of the country.  It’s all there- and hopefully that counteracts the negative portrayals- at least a bit.

How does your Italian heritage influence your writing?
It’s everything.  My heritage is the foundation of everything I do.  I know who I am because my character was shaped by people who cared about my character above all.  Everything I am, my sense of humor and my connection to my tribe comes from a sense of Italian American belonging.  I hope I pass it on as it was generously given to me.


To learn more about Adriana, go to:

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Alanna September 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm

This is amazing!! Especially since she went to my Alma Mater! Great job girl!!


Toni Ann October 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm

You are an inspiration to all! I am in awe of you.


Kathy October 10, 2012 at 6:41 pm

“The Shoemaker’s Wife” was the first Adriana Trigiani book that I read, earlier this year. I quickly purchased everything else I could find that she has written to date. I love the personalities of her characters. They feel like family. Keep up the wonderful work Adriana!! xx


Diane October 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Loved reading this, especially the line where Adriana says, “I was surrounded by some dazzling characters growing up” which seemed to hit home with me. I have read all of her books, and I can clearly see that in all of them. I admire her tremendously not only for the content of the books but the tenacity it must take to write so many compelling stories. Loved your simile in the first line, too. I have found that to be true!


Maryann Pisano October 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Thank you, Diane!


Pam DeNobile October 11, 2012 at 1:40 pm

How true is the statement “My heritage is the foundation of everything I do.”!!! I’ve read all of your books and loved every one of them; I feel as if I know the characters! Can’t wait to read Ciao, Valentine and my tour to Amalfi Coast next July !


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