Monday Mortals: Kimberly Menozzi

17.12.12

I'm delighted to be interviewing the fabulous author Kimberly Menozzi today, so let's get down to it...

Can you tell us a little about your latest book? My first novel, Ask Me if I'm Happy, is a literary love story set in modern-day Bologna, Italy. It's about two people, both of whom have been betrayed by someone they loved, working to find the courage to trust someone new. It's also about the ways these two people, like so many others, sabotage those very efforts to move forward in a new relationship out of the fear of moving forward. 

What inspired you to write it? Many things inspired me, but the touchpoint was when I was in the US for a visit with my family and I watched an episode of Samantha Brown's Passport to Europe, when she was in Bologna. The accents of the English-speaking Bolognesi gave me such a bout of homesickness, it was almost unbearable. That was when I realized that Italy had truly become my home and not just a place I lived. My love-hate relationship with Italy is something which flavors the story to a great extent, and is something which many of my Italian readers have remarked upon in a favorable way.

Is it part of a series?
I hadn't intended for it to be, but it seems to be shaping up into a series after all. Ask Me if I'm Happy is a reasonably long novel (around 400 pages), so I didn't think there would be more to tell about Emily and Davide. I did write a prequel novella called Alternate Rialto which described how Emily met Jacopo (her ex-husband in Ask Me…), because people had asked me how she wound up with him in the first place.
At the moment, I'm working on another prequel novella called None So Blind, which is the story of how Davide met Letizia (his ex) as well as a few other incidents from his past. I've also got ideas for a follow-up to Ask Me if I'm Happy because so many people have asked me "What happens next?"

If your latest book was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
I would love to see Luca Argentero play Davide – I've said that many times before – and I think, if she plumped up a little, Kelly MacDonald would be a good choice to play Emily, as she does a rather good American accent.

What made you want to become an author?
I've always been a writer. I used to write down the stories I had in my head for when I played with my action figures, or the drawings I'd do to pass the time when I'd finished my assignments in school, so it was just a way to calm down all the voices in my head, really. I've been writing things and sharing them with others since I was around seven or eight years old, and I completed my first full-length novel when I was eighteen. It's just who/what I am, I suppose.

Name one of your all-time favourite book covers.
That's a tough one to answer – I'm a big fan of cover art on books, record albums, and CDs! I'll have to answer with Watership Down, because of the memories attached to it for me.

Name one book that made you think 'wow'? Why did it have such an effect on you?
Again, that'd be Watership Down. I think it's because it was the first relatively massive book I read (I was nine or so when I read it), and I was overwhelmed by the amount and nature of the description in it – in the best possible way! I loved the richness of the writing, the texture, the evocative nature of the story. I've lost track of how many times I read it that first summer, but I know as soon as I finished it, I went back to the first page and started over again, and did that again and again. I read it every year.

Who, or what, inspires you?
Everything inspires me. That might sound like a frivolous or dismissive answer, but I really mean it. Every time I go out – or even when I don't – I find something new I want to put in my work. I'm a world-class eavesdropper, too, and I'm always listening for something to put in a story. Of course, being in Italy, that's a little harder to do now, but it explains why I understand Italian better than I speak it!

Where is your favourite place to write? My office at home, but I can write just about anywhere if inspiration strikes. In my office, I can turn up the music and just disappear into the story for as long as I need to. When I'm at work waiting for a student (I teach English Conversation), I might be able to scratch out a few details for a scene or the bare bones of a plot before the lesson starts.

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
The Master and Margarita. There was a Russian miniseries based on the book by Mikhail Bulgakov which was – I thought – remarkably true to the novel. (I watched it with English subtitles, for what it's worth.)

Who is your favourite author (s) and why?
There are so many I'd want to mention here, but I'll start with these: Stephen King, John Irving, Niccolo Ammaniti, Adriana Trigiani, Lucia St Clair Robson and Tim Parks.

King: because the depth of his characterization is something I aspire to, and the opening sentence of the Dark Tower series (in The Gunslinger) is possibly the most perfect opening sentence, EVER.

Irving: because he is able to make the most implausible situation completely believable, and the most absurd people lovable.

Ammaniti: because his books evoke a nostalgia for an Italy I've never experienced, but I feel as though I have after reading his work.

Trigiani: because her Big Stone Gap novels rang so true to me. I lived in that area and have family there still, and she presents the people of Big Stone Gap as they are, without parodying or belittling them at all. She also captures what it feels like to be from that place and have ties half a world away (coincidentally, in Italy).

Robson: because she champions the stories of native peoples with such heart and depth, and Walk in My Soul still resonates with me, today.

Parks: because whether he's writing fiction or non-fiction, he shows the reality of living in Italy – which is surreal enough, without embellishment!

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?
Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut (another one for my list above, there) and John Irving, for sure! I'd love to hear their stories about writing and well, just what they have to say about life in general.

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I met my husband on an online forum for fans of the Britpop group PULP; he approached me to tell me how much he'd enjoyed the chapters I'd shared from the novel I was working on at the time. We were married in Italy less than a year later.

Tell us something interesting about the area where you live.
I live in Reggio nell'Emilia, Italy, which is the city where the Italian tricolor flag was created. It's also the home of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (sometimes called Parmesan cheese) and Lambrusco wine.

Find Kimberly online:
Website: http://www.kmenozzi.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorkmenozzi
Twitter: @KMenozzi
Youtube

11 comments :

  1. Thank you, Suzy, for the chance to share a little about my work and myself. Although I'm not a YA author, I hope your readers have enjoyed this.

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  2. Its an absolute pleasure, Kimberly!

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  3. Hi both, I can see *Ask me if I'm Happy* having great appeal to YA fans. A love story is a love story, and the characters have youth on their side! ;) Lovely interview and expansive replies, and I know a lot more about Kimberly, now...

    best
    F

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    1. Thank you for coming by and commenting, Francine! I appreciate that you think YA readers would find Ask Me if I'm Happy appealing - I certainly hope that you're right!

      I have to laugh that you found these replies "expansive" though - I was trying to be brief! LOL! Brevity, clearly, is not my forte.

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  4. This sounds like such a fun read! Will definitely have to add it to my TBR, because I love Italy!

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    1. Thanks, Marilyn! I hope you enjoy it when you get a chance to read it. :)

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  5. Great interview - and sounds like a really fun read! Thanks for taking the time to share...both of you did an outstanding job! ~Janet~

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    1. Thank you, Janet. It was a fun interview for me, and I hope Suzy had fun reading it too. :)

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  6. I certainly did, Kimberly!
    Thank you everybody for taking the time to come over and read Kimberly's awesome answers!

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  7. Brilliant interview ladies! I love features like this. Your book sounds like my kind of read, Kimberly.

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    1. Thank you, Melanie! I often enjoy these sorts of features, too. And, say... That's the sort of thing I like to hear about my book! ;)

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