Thursday, November 1, 2012

Listen Up!

Today I'm delighted to welcome Susan Speranza, author of The Tale of Lucia Grandi, to my blog. She's touring the internet with Lightning Book Promotions, and there's a wonderful giveaway being offered. Just click here and look for the rafflecopter. But first, read Susan's answer to that age-old question for authors--where do your ideas come from?

Listen Up!
by Susan Speranza

One question a writer is often asked is how she comes by her inspiration. Often she will state that reading other writers’ works has provided her with the motivation and encouragement she needs to proceed with her own writings. Indeed, most authors can rattle off a list of their favorite writers who inspired them along the way.
But there is another path to inspiration which many people are unaware of - that of listening.
My day job (and yes, most writers have day jobs!) is that of a high school librarian. One of the things I do every year with my students is run a scavenger hunt so that they become familiar with the library and its resources. At the beginning of every session, I tell them that if they listen to me, really listen, I will tell them everything they need to know to complete the scavenger hunt and get an A. I am always amazed that very few of them actually stop talking long enough to listen and most of them come back to me during the hunt, asking me questions that I’ve already given answers to. And I always tell them that if they had listened to me as I told them to do, they would know the answer. They often look at me, puzzled, as if they don’t really believe that something so simple as listening can make a difference.
But it can. Though a seemingly passive endeavor, listening is a very important one; I learned early on that if I didn’t talk, but really listened - especially to the right things - I could learn a great deal.
Many of the stories I wove into my novel, The Tale of Lucia Grandi, came from listening. My mother, a stay at home mom, as most women were in those days, was a great “coffee-klatcher”. She and many of the neighborhood women would get together often, mostly at our house, sit around drinking coffee and talk about everything. Even though I was young, I was invited to join these women, but they made it clear to me that if I didn’t speak, but only listened I was welcomed to remain at the table with them. I was therefore given the opportunity to step into their lives as I listened to many of their interesting stories. They spoke of their children, their husbands, their parents, their siblings, their hopes, their miseries, their beliefs, their fears. My participation in this group of adult women gave me the opportunity to peer into their worlds and experience their lives vicariously. All because I listened.
When it came time for me to write Lucia Grandi, I drew upon many of these stories I had heard during those years. It was natural then that I used the framework of a memoir in shaping this novel – an old woman is asked to tell the story of her life and she does so, only because someone wants to hear it. The concept of listening informs the story.
So the next time you want to be inspired or even just want to learn some interesting things, you should just listen. You might be surprised what you hear when others start talking!

Thank you for giving us the chance to listen to you Sarah, and thank you for your wise advice. I'm going to add some information about The Life of Lucia Grandi now so readers will know what it's about and where to find it. It certainly sounds intriguing and I'm looking forward to reading it:

The Tale of Lucia Grande, the Early Years
When an old woman is asked to tell the story of her life, she tells is an intense and poignant tale about growing up in and surviving an irrational, warring suburban family during the 1950s and 60s. The narrative is told from Lucia’s perspective as the second child where she and her siblings are caught in the middle of a lifelong war between her mother, Ruth, an overbearing, unhappy homemaker, and her father, Leonard, a manipulative, sometimes violent New York City cop. Lucia is the silent, thoughtful eyewitness to her parents’ constant and sometimes life-threatening battle.
The story is told as a memoir; each chapter describes a particular incident in Lucia’s life which shows the constant struggle between her parents and the perverse effect it has on her and her siblings. From her complicated and unwanted birth, to her witnessing a suicide at age 3, to her stint as a runaway at age 14, the story progresses to the final crisis where as a young woman, she is turned out of her house and banished from her family forever.
This timeless story of one woman’s courageous attempt to come to terms with her past and the troubled family that dominated it is powerfully and poignantly told.
This novel recently made it to the Quarter final rounds in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. Amazon reviewers called it great storytelling and the wrote that the prose “ flows with such beauty you are holding your breath to eagerly read each word!”


Sheila Deeth said...

Thank you for visiting my blog Susan. I hope readers will be inspired to listen, and be inspired.

Bette A. Stevens said...

Hi, Sheila. Enjoyed 'listening' to Susan Speranza Listen Up! Lucia Grande sounds like a look and listen into the time period in which I grew up. Looking forward to reading your novel. Bette