If a term like “triple threat” existed in the writing world, Adriana Trigiani would be the virtuoso. Perhaps you know her for bringing hardworking, multi-generational Italian heritage to life in bestselling novels like The Shoemaker’s Wife and the Very Valentine series. Or perhaps you think of her hands-on big screen adaptations of fan favorites like Big Stone Gap. Or for the comedic writing of her early years at The Cosby Show and A Different World. Or for lighting up your home with her wildly popular Facebook Live series, Adriana Ink!, where she handpicks a refreshing mix of up-and-coming authors, top bestsellers, and celebrity authors every week.
Here at Career Authors, we know and love her for them all. So we were thrilled when she agreed to answer The Career Authors 11.
1. What book changed your life?
Every book I ever read changed my life. If your mother is a librarian—and mine was—she made me feel that every book was important. Here are a few titles that have stayed with me. Childhood: The Story of Silent Night by John Travers Moore, Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald (the entire series), the Bobbs-Merrill series of young American patriots, the Nancy Drew series, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, The Luckiest Girl and Fifteen by Beverly Cleary. As a young adult, Walden by Henry David Thoreau was a favorite recommended by my high school librarian Billie Jean Scott. As an adult, here are two titles I return to time and again: The Improbable Life and Times of Charles MacArthur by Ben Hecht, Journal of a Soul by Pope John XXIII.
2. Was your first published book the first manuscript you ever wrote?
Yes, Big Stone Gap was the first novel I ever wrote—but I had been a professional writer, a playwright and dramatist, screenwriter, and television writer before I wrote books.
3. Stephen King says, “The hardest part is just before you start.” What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
4. Do you know the story’s ending before you start?
5. When you’re having a difficult writing day, what do you tell yourself to get through it?
Be grateful that you’re doing what you love and suddenly all problems go poof. I have a measured view of this career—I am nothing but grateful. I also reach out to my fellow authors—that helps too.
6. Do you read your reviews?
7. Besides being persistent and correcting your spelling errors, what’s your best advice for a new author?
8. What’s your definition of writer misery?
When I’m not writing.
9. What’s your definition of writer happiness?
When I’m writing.
10. What’s your favorite book on writing?
The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri. Paul Theroux’s The Tao of Travel—which is not about writing per se, but ian exquisite, curated collection of what a writer sees when he or she travels—for me, it’s essential reading. Read all of Theroux: He’s the real deal.
11. What book are you reading right now?
I am re-reading The Chiffon Trenches by Andre Leon Talley. He moved through a world that is prickly and snobby (fashion) and triumphed—a kid from North Carolina with taste developed by his aunt and grandmother. I gravitate to the misfit and the other because that’s a place I understand. When I read these books, I find wisdom.
Adriana Trigiani is the New York Times bestselling author of 20 books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Shoemaker’s Wife and her latest, The Good Left Undone. Her books have been published in 38 languages around the world. She is an award-winning playwright, television writer/producer, and filmmaker. Among her screen credits, Trigiani wrote and directed the major motion picture adaptation of her debut novel, Big Stone Gap. Adriana grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where she co-founded the Origin Project. Trigiani is proud to serve on the New York State Council on the Arts. She lives in New York City with her family.