Compass North: An Int'l Interview Series: Sarah Spinazzola

J: What interview can’t start without an introduction?

S: Ok, let's start by saying that I speak little English (but I've been studying for 8 years). Now some information about me: I love olives. I'm afraid of insects. I like sunsets. I have never eaten a shrimp. For a time, we had a monkey called Cristina in the house. I once found a silver bracelet in the snow. If you write me a letter and start with "Dear Sara" (without an ‘h’ at the end) I'll misspell your name back (laughs). At breakfast, I drink a banana smoothie using a colored straw. I love colored straws. Lastly, I was in the World Trade Center in the past.

J:  I like your factoids and how you just lay them all out on the line. Also, your English is good…I don’t think you give yourself enough credit! I am curious to know what your surname stems from?

S: My last name is the name of a small country in Southern Italy. In this country called Spinazzola, there is also a castle, and when I was little I thought that one day it would be mine.

J: That is interesting that within Italy, there are separate states. If you so happen to ‘inherit’ this castle, I want a tour! Anyways, when did you start writing and what made you passionate at first? Now?

S: I started writing after reading The Diary of Anne Frank in elementary school. Immediately after completion, my mom gave me a secret diary on which I started to write talking to an imaginary character named Frenk (yes with an ‘e’) that always means Frank, but I wrote it how it is spoken in Italian.

I finished high school and went off to college. After the first year of studies, I departed from my philosophy studies and I started to attend libraries (they are much more interesting places). I started to write within. I was interested in the beginning of what an Ego thought, a narrative voice to the first singular person, who had thoughts and emotions. I was interested in revealing the emotions and thoughts of the protagonist. Now I am interested in writing tales of insects.

J: I’m sure there are plenty of oddities within the mind of an insect (laughs). That’s quite an interesting take, thank you for that. So, tell me more about Marcos Y Marcos. How was the publishing process for you?

S: Marcos y Marcos is an independent publishing house. They published my debut, adult-oriented novel, My gift you are . A quick backstory: In the first version, the book was read by a famous Italian writer named Paolo Nori. It was he who proposed my book to Marcos y Marcos and they later agreed to publish it. In another interview, I told that the work with the editor Claudia Tarolo lasting nine months, and it was almost like giving birth: long and necessary.

J: ‘Like giving birth: long and necessary’…wow! The coincidence of the process must’ve have been so surreal once your ‘baby’ was born. Has it been challenging finding an audience outside of Italy? Does your fan base support you well?

S: You are my first supporter and I think you're doing it right.

J: I’m flattered! I don’t know Italian but I can surely endorse you. What other hobbies do you have? 

S: I like to paint. As a child, I wanted to become a painter. Then after reading the books of an Indian man, Osho, I wanted to get to the lighting. I did not succeed. Now I like reading fairy tales aloud to children, and just since July 8, I and two other people will read fairy tales to children. We will be in the beautiful library park of Legnano.

J: I tried my hand at pencil drawing as a teenager, but found little success. As far as the reading, I want to know how it went! Here’s a metaphysical question for you…If you could name a material that could describe you, what would that be? This can be anything from fabric to wood, stone, leafy/natural, etc.

S: I think the material that can describe me is glass.

J: Hmm. There is the fragility of glass, and the opalescence and pristine craftsmanship that comes with it. Very nice! So, where in Italy is your favorite? I am dying to visit but would like to know all the "hotspots".

S: I have not explored all of Italy, certainly the most important cities, yes. One of my favorite places is a region called Emilia-Romagna. Compared to other places, people are kind and cheerful (there they make also Parmesan cheese. Just to say one thing). Then there is Rome, Venice, Florence, Naples which is worth seeing. You are spoiled for choice.

J: Understandable. It can be difficult to get up and move to another state here, so I can see how it translate to you. Ok, last one! Do you plan on visiting the US? If so, will I have the honor to receive a copy?

S: I have an uncle who lives in America, near Rhode Island, and I've been to see him once. When I come back, I will surely give you a copy of My gift you are. But who knows, maybe someday someone will decide to translate it into English so you can read it from start to finish and tell me what you think? Promise?

J: Promise. Thank you for the chat, Sarah! Below is the link to her publishing profile from Marcos y Marcos which has an English translation on-board!