Our guest today is author Maria Grazia Swan. Maria was born in Italy and has lived in Belgium, France, Germany, California and Arizona—but stay tuned for weekly updates of Where in the World is Maria Grazia Swan? Maria won her first literary award at the age of fourteen. Maria has written short stories for anthologies, articles for high profile magazines and numerous blogs tackling love and life. She engaged her editorial and non-fiction skills for Boomer Babes: Tales of Love and Lust in the Later Years and is now writing romantic suspense. She currently has two novels available as ebooks: Love Thy Sister and Bosom Bodies. Learn more about her at her website. -- AP
An Italian Version of the Great American Novel
For me, the dream of writing a great novel smoldered in my subconscious from the time I read my first book in Italy, written in Italian. My family moved to Belgium. There I read my first book in French. And while I did write some short stories, even managed to win an award, I was too young and too language-challenged to work on The Novel. Time flies regardless if you’re having fun or not until one day you’re sitting in your empty nest in front of a computer, and you say to yourself, “This is it, the perfect time, the perfect place.” For me, that epiphany came after I moved to the United States. I was suddenly consumed with the need to write the Great American Novel. The fact I wasn’t American was a small bump in the road.
And so it began. Soon I realized the English language wasn’t my biggest problem. Heck, you can ask your friends, you can consult an Italian/English Dictionary. You can even go to Google for translation. I said translation, not necessarily interpretation. But again, just a small bump in the road to fame and fortune.
While a writer can conjure text out of thin air, common American cultural references don’t come easily to someone who grew up in small European towns. There were no school buses or afternoon classes. We went home at one o’clock with several hours of homework, which we had to complete because the teachers actually checked it. Never even heard of football or proms. No idea what a corsage was. Few had phones, TVs or even refrigerators at home, and for transportation we used bicycles. Anyone dating before the age of sixteen was considered a bad kid, although parents, friends and neighbors used other choice descriptions. Religion ruled our lives. By religion I mean Catholicism, which was the only game in town. Until I was sixteen, the only black or Asian people I’d seen were in magazines or in the slide shows the missionaries used to solicit donations.
I could go on, but I’m sure you can see how my Great American Novel was shaping up to be not American at all. In my vernacular, Americanisms and cultural references were all but nonexistent. I vowed to overcome this, to find a way to write my story. And I did. My main character, always Italian-born, uses her background to tell her story and bring her experiences to life, in English. So this version of the Great American Novel will come to you by way of a European import with a decided Italian accent.
Italian-born Mina Calvi has a way of finding trouble, but when she offers to help a friend by moonlighting at Bosom Bodies restaurant, it’s trouble that finds her. The body of the restaurant manager is discovered on the beach, a hit and run victim, and Mina’s VW Bug is impounded as the vehicle used in the crime. Stunned beyond belief, Mina is suddenly up to her ears in assault, betrayal, smuggling and murder. Now the police are watching her. The mob is targeting her. And who comes riding to her rescue on a metal steed—none other than the cook at Bosom Bodies, the mysterious Diego. Is he more than a bad cook and a good lover? Is he protecting her, or setting her up? Scared, clueless and on her own, Mina struggles to reclaim her life and stay two steps ahead of the those stalking her, but it’s a treacherous path and she’s losing ground fast.