Meet the Author: Adriana Trigiani

following program is a production of the
Fairfax Network Fairfax County Public Schools funded in part by the Virginia
satellite hello there and welcome to meet the
author I’m your host Tracy Jewell della kidd is out on assignment today I
want to introduce you to our in-studio guest
New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani thank you for having
me we’re excited to be here we got a lot to talk about I know we do Adriana will
be sharing her ideas about the writing process discussing her books and maybe
filling us in on the ancient art of Chinese face reading talk about that a
little later yeah we don’t cover a lot of topics we
also have some additional guests joining us today from a very special place
these folks are joining us via videoconference from
Adriana’s hometown High School Powell Valley High School in Big Stone Gap
Virginia hey powell valley how are you guys doing today right it looks like they can hear us hi
everybody we can see them that’s great all right we’re gonna get back to you
guys in just a minute so hang in there powell valley i first Adriana Trigiani’s
novels blend colorful characters rich dialogue and vivid descriptions to draw
her readers into her stories as a novelist she is best known for her Big
Stone Gap series some of her other book titles include Lucia Lucia Rococo very
Valentine and many more and in addition to her novels she co-produced a family
memoir in the form of a cookbook called cooking with my sisters so some great
recipes in that recently Adriana’s first young adult novel viola in real life has
hit the bookstore shelves so we’re gonna be talking about that book today but
that’s an impressive list thank you so much I’m very lucky because I have a job
that I’m crazy about yeah I love my work and I sure love talking to all the
students a dream come true for me well now with
the the variation in your list there is there any common denominator in all of
those books I would say the common denominator in my books is a strong
central character usually a woman although in rokoko it was a man but it’s
usually a woman who is on a mission to put her life in order and to move
forward and to grow I would say those are the themes that I’m most interested
in I turn the same rock over all the time which is how do I spend my time
here on earth to its maximum potential so maybe teeny bit of autobiographical
stuff in there well I don’t know because I as a writer I view myself as somebody
who’s observing the action as opposed to somebody who’s in the action now there’s
certainly an action to being an author you’re in movement I’m on a book tour
it’s very exciting I’ve been able to travel to a lot of places but I never
really leave my hometown in my emotional life I really don’t is there with me
yeah and when I when I go home I’m immediately back where I was when I left
there which is fascinating yeah we’re gonna talk a little bit more about
home town but just want to let our folks out there know that this is a live
presentation so you can join the fun if you have a question about the writing
process give us a call and you two can meet the author AAdriana Trigiani in
just a few minutes our phone lines will be open if you’re calling nationally the
number is 1-800-308-3515 it’s really deeply into
southern western tip of the state of Virginia but what’s so exciting about
where I come from is that it’s the portal to five states to North Carolina
Kentucky Tennessee Virginia and North Carolina so you got it all in West
Virginia yeah but you’ve got them all right there and you can see them and
it’s it’s an amazing amazing place to have grown up yeah and we have a little
sort of a rendition of the the shot of you know March
that’s how Valley the Powell Valley Valley
yes Valley it’s beautiful which the high school is nestled in okay and that’s why
the high school was called Powell Valley High School you know it’s Big Stone Gap
okay so we’re gonna go now to Powell Valley High School the home of the
Vikings I’m very proud Viking yeah so we’ve got Powell Valley you have your
first question for us go ahead and let us know what that would be so so we want
to know then how did growing up in a big Italian family in that town shape who
you are as a writer today well that’s a great question and thank you so much for
asking me that question because I think it shaped everything about Who I am as a
person to have grown up in Big Stone Gap because it was different from the
cultural heritage that I have as an Italian although we found Italians in
the mountains of Southwest Virginia your history there is so rich you’ve got the
scots-irish which really are the cornerstone of the of the ethnicity
there which is a great I’ve been to Scotland and to Ireland and I I
encourage you to go when you can to see where your people come from because it’s
they’re fantastic and very similar to the people in South West Virginia in
their demeanor their temperament and I would describe them as great
storytellers lots of fun very focused on adventure yeah how I wouldn’t apply that
and then there are some of you probably in that classroom that are of Melungeon
descent and the Melungeon people are a very interesting ethnic group which is a
mix of all of the Heritage’s that that lived in the mountains and they think
also included in that are some interesting kind of exotic elements like
the French from the French and Indian War and the and the Turkish soldiers
that were hired to come over and frighten the French and Indian War and
African American Cherokee Indian Native American you have that all mix so that’s
an interesting group yeah and then of course you have some Lebanese yeah yeah
and you you know so you have you have a real mix and now the Filipino community
in the last 30 years is there so you really live in a place where you think
it isn’t as ethnically diverse day as New York City but it truly has its own
kind of colorful history and background and to have grown up there meant that I
honored my own tradition at home and I honored my community tradition I think
we have some pictures of of you in your younger years when you were there
there’s a little one yeah and that’s so my big family and that’s really shy to
people oh my brother Carla wasn’t born yet and my sister Francesca wasn’t born
yet okay and there’s an in there we’re
frolicking in the leaves and I’m wearing the headband so lovely now was this the
kind of deal where you raked up the leaves and you jumped in we rake the
leaves and jumped yeah did that my sisters and there’s your beautiful pal
Valley where the high school is set it’s gorgeous just guys just get out there
and look at those mountains because there will come a time in your life when
you you need to just visualize them and you can’t look at them enough it’s the
way I look at that yeah beautiful oh there’s our mutual pharmacy oh that’s
the the workplace of Ave Maria Mulligan McChesney the character and Big Stone
Gap okay and you recall going into that pharmacy I’m sure I went every day yeah
that was my hangout yeah this is the big cherry lake up on the mountain and you
students know you have to take that dirt road all the way up the mountain and
it’s quite beautiful and yeah yeah just really really pretty country isn’t it
great yeah gorgeous loved growing up there all
right so let’s go we’re gonna go back to the students in Powell Valley and you
guys have I know a number of question for us so what’s your next question for
Adrianna so that this question is you know because Big Stone Gap has been such
a big hit for you what made you decide to switch to young adult fiction with
fail in real life well the real reason that I wrote this book was for you I
wanted to come into your reading world because I fell in love with reading in
Big Stone Gap at your age basically maybe a little younger certainly from
the age of 10 11 12 I began to really fall in love with reading I know you’re
older than that but Miss Billie Jean Scott at Pala
Valley High School was our librarian and she gave me some of the great books I’ve
ever read which included Walden by Henry David Thoreau she she gave me some of
the great books that I treasure Ralph Waldo Emerson
she really had a transcendentalist bent and encouraged me to read those which
was great and then in middle school I an in elementary school I had miss
Ernestine roller and she gave me beverly cleary Madeleine L’Engle
all the great comital middle school authors and then when of course the most
important thing is the town bookmobile which was the Wise County bookmobile and
James Varner mr. Varner was the librarian and so you see this is really
important to to me in my in my history and Big Stone Gap is that I was really
deeply influenced by my teachers and my librarians they were my rock stars and
they really helped me figure out a path in life not that I knew I was going to
ever write a book because I didn’t know that I was really interested in
playwriting and we used to do a town musical every year so I sort of fell in
love with the theatre there and then I went and studied it
in college but the whole the whole place I was raised is what directly informs my
work because in every book if I’m writing a book set in New Jersey or New
York or in Virginia it’s a community of characters so just as I’m looking at
your classroom I would create that community yeah so it really one feeds
the other right so we I don’t want to spoil it for students out there who
haven’t finished by all yet but can you give us just sort of a brief overview of
what that story well viola in real life is the first of a series of books and in
it we haven’t determined a number it might be ten books and you can see from
the cover the jacket art really tells you the story of this book it’s about a
girl from Brooklyn New York who wears very we call them kicks in New York very
funny shoes of the color of taxi cabs and she’s got a camera with her because
she keeps a video diary now what you guys will really tune in to in this book
is that this character records her thoughts and feelings electronically so
there’s a lot of texting computers skyping her camera and what happens to
viola is her parents she’s an only child announced to her that she has to go to
boarding school because they’re going to make a documentary film in Afghanistan
so she records this she doesn’t want to go she’s kicking and screaming she wants
to stay in her cool Brooklyn neighborhood but she’s forced to go to
Indiana and there she creates a life and a new family and a new community and
there’s a character from Richmond Virginia named Marisol Carreras she’s a
Latina she’s there on scholarship there’s a character Suzanne Santry from
Chicago whose mother went to the school many years ago and and loves the idea of
her daughter going there yeah and she’s quite beautiful and accomplished and
then there’s Romy Dixon and she’s the jock and she’s from upstate New York and
she has like 4,000 parents because her parents remarried and so many siblings
yeah so she comes to the boarding school to do the Athletics so like so it’s a
big again a big group of that family dynamic
but interesting her grandmother comes to see her and her grandmother’s a Broadway
actress so there’s a whole element to that and
there’s a ghost in the story mm-hmm and that’s for all of you out
there that really want to be a writer or want to be an artist of some sort and
that would include acting directing writing any of the things you really
love or think you’re going to be interested in studying I really laced
this that theme through the book of the ghosts because it’s her subconscious and
the best way that I can describe what your subconscious is it’s where you do
your writing a lot of people think you sit there and stare at it and you type
and you you you look and you think oh but it that isn’t what happens what it’s
really about is you do all your work when you’re sleeping as I’m talking to
you now on camera I’m working on my book and you say well house is possible yeah
here’s the best way I can describe it you know when you have to get up really
early and you set the alarm but the night before you say to yourself I’m
gonna get up at five o’clock in the morning you set the alarm to wake you up
right but you wake up a minute before the alarm goes off
that is your subconscious and your subconscious is the thing that thing
that if you train it connects you to achieving a goal so if you wake up the
you can apply this to sports if you if you’re the quarterback of the football
team or you’re the wide receiver and you got to receive you can you can focus on
that and study that and use the power within you to draw that to you and the
writer the artist the painter it’s all done within us in our soul in our heart
whatever you want to call it and then with that power I never get blocked I
could write a million bucks yeah with because there’s no end to the power of
that subconscious yeah and because it’s not like sitting down and and staring no
don’t stare at a screen and wait for the poem to come right you think about it
and I even have friends that are writers who will call me and say well I just
can’t get this to work and I say walk away from it yeah and think about
it and then it will come back to you okay I think we have another question
from our students at Powell Valley what’s your next question down there is
there that’s another great question yeah okay that’s a great question because I
don’t see a difference in the amount and the level and the intensity of the work
that I do there are things that are appropriate to an adult audience that
are not appropriate because you wouldn’t care about it as an audience is a teen
audience you’re not gonna care but what my job is as an artist is to figure out
what you care about and write to that that’s the idea so that creates a
difference but I will tell you this I know that you’re just as smart as any
grown-up I know you have just as many dreams as any grown-up and that you have
a point of view of the world that should be addressed and that’s what I attempt
to do yeah when I write so it’s really it’s about really giving as much focus
and attention but in a way that somebody was 14 15 or 16 would respond to yeah
and you know we have a number of students out there who watched the
program who are themselves aspiring writers when you do that do you do you
picture a person that you’re writing to I absolutely do and I create somebody
new there’s a there’s a great story and some of you have read Gone with the Wind
I’m sure at pal Valley because it’s there the little red book I read it
misses God gave it to me and when that it came time to make a movie of that
everybody thought that Clark Gable at the time this is 1939 way before you
this is your grandparents time okay way before you maybe your great-grandparents
and everyone thought that the author thought of him when she wrote it but she
really just created the character and he seems so real but they had to attach him
for me the character seemed completely real I don’t picture
movie stars I create somebody new and then I actually think when I travel it
I’m gonna meet them it’s the other part of it that’s a little wacky but but it’s
authentic mm-hm well we have we also have some email
questions from students who have sent those in there’s some from students here
in Poe middle school in Annandale Virginia and we have one from omnia and
omnia writes is viola in some way like you were when you were a team and if
you’re not the personality of that character how did you capture her
personality um Nia that’s a great question I love this question no I’m not
her she’s wholly an independent creation I
was not allowed to really do the kinds of things violas allowed to do when I
was a teenager I come from a very strict family and when I was young
cameras were not readily available I have a seven-year-old daughter she has a
flip camera she makes movies all the time when I was young you film was very
expensive and it had to be developed in a lab and photography the same so you
didn’t have digital where you could have a choice of ten thousand different
photographs you know you didn’t have that yeah so really I don’t I can’t
compare myself to her at all in any way and in terms of the technology when I
was growing up in Big Stone Gap we our television reception wasn’t even very
good so your view of the outside world she waited for those magazines to come
it was just a different it was a different way to grow up
so omnia it’s a different character but I hope she’s very authentic and true and
I live in Greenwich Village in New York with my husband and my daughter and I’m
around a lot of teens and I like to think that I’ve captured the authentic
and true voice of the teenage right yeah okay I hope so
okay we’re gonna go back to Powell Valley because we’ve got a lot of
different kinds of questions coming in today so Powell Valley what’s your next
question fired by your personal experiences no
he’s not inspired by my personal experience but as an artist when you do
this enough you start to anticipate things and I began to think about this
year’s you know maybe three years ago it took me a year to write it and I started
to think about about my audience you and what how how would I most shock you and
the way I would shock you is to move you so I could write a very comfortable
story about a girl who lives in the house she always lived in but what if I
took her from one state to another and required her in the ninth grade to make
completely new friends and create her own community and family so that’s
really the essence of it is is how do I as an author take what I know but make
it completely and wholly original yeah big challenge I would think it’s a big
challenge but it’s really fun yeah it’s really fun okay well we’ve got another
email question from some of our students out there and this one is from viola in
us from destiny viola see I was so excited I know it’s gonna be I’m so
excited we had a real viola destiny has a question about viola but as Iola was
expecting the worst when she arrived at boarding school and destiny wants to
know was there ever a time in your life when you expected the worst and got the
best yeah this morning destiny just this morning there are so many moments like
that in my life where I thought something was going to be terribly
difficult and it ended up to be something that opened up the world to me
I would say when I was growing up that there were that that happened through my
teachers a lot because I I would think that I was going to fail and I would
pass that was a big thing for me was at the top of my class at Powell
Valley at all I was a reader though and a seeker but I wasn’t very interested in
making good grades which was difficult when it came time to get into college
but they took me which was really nice in st. Mary’s it’s very kind of but it
was a wake up call expecting the worst I usually don’t
expect the worst I really always try to think something’s gonna work out in the
best possible manner that it will and I just try to be resilient when I get the
worst yeah yeah but that’s a great question too deeply philosophical maybe
too philosophical for me that’s it maybe too good a question we need to get
somebody in here who could answer this that’s a good question yeah it is well
we talked you mentioned a little bit earlier about how you incorporated
different technologies into the novel because kids using those technologies
and we we have an intern that works with us here at the Fairfax Network her name
is Katherine and so we asked Katherine to incorporate some of those
technologies and to explore the topic of young adult fiction okay
so Katherine has created a little something that we’d like to show you so
we’re gonna do that but when we return more questions and more answers from
Adriana Trigiani but first here’s capital my name is Katherine I just got this
camera for my birthday and decided I would give it a test drive by
documenting my life everything I already yeah at all
that sounds Kyle weird but libraries and publishers use the term of young adult
or decide to market we just like mean who would read and in sideways looks
like Theo on real life by Adriana Trigiani you olam is a video diaries just
like me I guess looking a lot of young adult folks people can really relate to
the main character I see viola had difficult high school
transition and well so did I and so do a lot of other people but this video diary
entry is not gonna be just about me it’s gonna be about what other young adults
use Diaries and journals for and what they look for in your adult books young
adult book can it just be any book my favorite book is problem is I think it’s
Jane Eyre it’s one of those things I just decided but I like lots of
different books my favorite fictional character is Wil Perry from the subtle
knife because of its determination my favorite fictional character it’s Edward
Cullen Superman I have to say star girl see it goes against the crowd my
favorite book is probably what I’m reading right now which is the universe
and a single atom by the Dalai Lama which combines science philosophy and do
this thinking this is my journal it’s a paper and pencil journal and no I don’t
keep a journal well there you have it that’s not video diary for the day I
hope you all learned something about what your notes the foreign books what
kind of Gerald’s they keep well I guess I’m gonna be signing off until next time so that was a great job from Katherine
Trent I thought Katherine did an amazing job and I also love that she uses her
camera just like viola does or viola doesn’t like Katherine and here’s what’s
interesting too is she looks a lot like I pictured viola oh really
a lot mm-hm interesting well of course one of the topics that that Katherine
talked with her friends about was what they’re reading right now and you talked
a little bit about books that you read as a teenager what do you think is the
importance of that of reading you know what guys here’s the thing for all you
students that are listening is pick something you like
now you saw in that in that clip many different authors you saw the classics
which would be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte let me tell you my favorite book
probably when I was a kid was Jane Eyre but read what you like for the guys
there are fantastic sports novels I mean names jump into mind like mike lupica he
did a series of y-a novels you can find in your niche whatever you like if you
love fashion there are certain books you can go to we can and we’ll put a list on
my website so you can go and see other things you might that might you might
like the important thing is to read and you say oh but it’s boring and I I just
don’t want to and but here’s the deal it in the world that we live in now that is
so noisy and you’re constantly pulled out in technological ways in this world
like this you need to be able to be quiet within yourself
and the last place that we can do that is reader to subject so do it read and
and seek out authors I mean I I live in New York City because I read Harriet the
Spy by Louise fitzy when I was 10 years old and I read it a hundred times I read
it over and over and over again to this day I read a lot of nonfiction
which surprises everybody because I write fiction but I read the landmark
series of American patriots when I was in Middle School what we didn’t call it
middle school then but when I was in the in the you know the coming up here’s the
5th 6th 7th 8th grade I read them all yeah and to this day I love I love a
nonfiction story yeah we are quickly running out of time this times going so
fast can’t believe where the time go but you
know I was curious Big Stone Gap art of Chinese face reading mm-hmm is that real
the art of Chinese face reading is absolutely real nerve books about it
because it’s called seeing me and it’s a Chinese phrase and it’s about looking at
the features of someone’s face and being able to tell the life the the roadmap of
that person’s life where they’re going and their and their proclivities and
propensities towards certain kind of behavior and it’s very helpful I do it
all the time whenever I meet someone and shake their hand I look at I go oh ok
probably won’t leave a big tip at lunch and could tell from Chinese face well I
have to discuss that a little bit more after we go off the area well thank you
very much for joining us today thanks for your time it’s been fabulous and we
also want to say a big thanks to the students at Powell Valley High School
and Big Stone Gap thanks guys for joining us today we really appreciate it
our guest today has been Adriana Trigiani if you would like to learn more
about her books visit her website at and to learn more about
our upcoming programs you can visit us at WWF CPS edu / Fairfax Network for the
Fairfax Network I’m Tracy Jewell keep reading keep writing and keep dreaming

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