- What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?
SECRETS IN TRANSLATION (Fitzroy Books, 2018) is a crossover adult/Young Adult novel.
- In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?
In this celebration of Italian life and culture, seventeen-year-old Alessandra returns for the summer to Italy, where she grew up. Pressured by her parents into babysitting a rebellious twelve-year-old—ruining holiday plans with newfound American friends—Alessandra resigns herself to a tedious summer in Positano. Her babysitting gig, however, turns out to be anything but boring! Not only does Alessandra fall for the handsome son of the Bertolucci family, renowned for their limoncello production, but when a body mysteriously turns up on the beach, the influence of organized crime in Positano become frighteningly real. As Alessandra is drawn further into an elaborate conspiracy, she must risk everything to protect herself, her family, and those that she loves, and in the process, she finds herself—and her Italian heart.
- What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?
- What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?
(Besides the Italian-American Heritage Foundation’s “It would make a great Hallmark movie!” ?) “Utterly charming!” (Allison K. Hill, CEO, American Booksellers Association)
- What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]
SECRETS IN TRANSLATION is a cross between MY BRILLIANT FRIEND and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.
- Why this book? Why now?
Ours is a multicultural world, and young people are often searching for who they really are and trying to understand their cultural identities, so I hope Alessandra’s story will resonate with all sorts of readers who are dealing with the pull of loyalty between two cultures. Also, Italy has a mystery and an allure that many travelers feel deeply when they visit there, (and what better time to take a virtual trip!) and I hope people can experience the marvelous heartbeat of true Italy, beyond the tourist experience. Having spent my early childhood there (yes, I am a Third Culture Kid!) and having many return trips, Italy is truly my heart, and I hope readers will understand the beauty of its culture and the warmth of its people. Readers can take a trip to Italy and they won’t even have to book a flight—and these days, that’s a plus!
- Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
My best job was coaching a high school speech and debate team; the kids kept me on my toes and kept me laughing.
- What do you want readers to take away from the book?
I hope readers will have a deep appreciation of the richness of Italian culture, of the beauty of Italy, of the genuineness of its people, and an understanding of what it’s like to be torn between two cultures, something which, in our multicultural world, can be essential to recognize.
- What food and/or music do you associate with the book?
Because Alessandra’s Italian young man is the scion of a limoncello producer’s family, and limoncello figures prominently in the mystery, definitely the golden, lemony, piquant limoncello is the food/drink to remember not to mention the panini of prosciutto, provolone, and mortadella they get from the Delicatessen in Positano…
- What book(s) are you reading currently?
I just finished ANNA KARENINA—I’d never read it (total guilt and true confession!)—and I just picked up THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK to read along with IKE AND KAY (I always read two books at the same time).
Learn more about Margo at her website.
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Buy Secrets in Translation at Bookshop or wherever books are sold.
Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.