LINDA LAPPIN @ FELTRINELLI INTERNATIONAL in ROME
Tuesday November 12, 2013 at 6 pm Via V.E. Orlando 84/86
Presentation, Reading & Book Signing. Critic Richard Ambrosini will discuss the book with the author. Click here to see the Feltrinelli Event Calendar La Feltrinelli International
Linda Lappin, poet, novelist, essayist, travel writer, and literary translator was born in Kingsport, Tennessee. She received her B.A. from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. and her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop where she studied poetry with Donald Justice, fiction with Ian McEwan, and translation with Daniel Weissbort and worked as a translation assistant to Paul Engle and Hualing Nieh at the International Writing Program.
A former Fulbright fellow to Italy, she currently divides her time between the US and Italy, where she has taught English in Italian universities for over twenty years. Her essays , reviews, and short fiction appear regularly in US periodicals. Her short fiction has been broadcast by the BBC World Service Radio.
Active as literary translator, she has translated Carmelo Samona' and Federigo
Tozzi. She has received two NEA grants in translation and the Renato
Poggioli Award in Translation from PEN.
Through the Centro Pokkoli , she has organized writing workshops in Italy for the Kenyon Review, the Converse College Continuing Education Program, and other institutions and currently organizes writers' events, workshops, and retreats in a medieval village near Rome.
She has worked as a radio speaker and interpreter for RAI 1 and is currently associate international editor for Del Sol Journal . Her forthcoming books include Genius Loci: A Writer's Guide to Capturing the Soul of Place and Signatures in Stone set in the sculpture garden of Bomarzo the Monster Park to be published by Pleasure Boat Studio
She is a member of the AWP, the EACWP, the Authors Guild, and the Katherine Mansfield Society
Interview with Linda Lappin from the Kingsport Times News
Date Published: May 21, 2005
Kingsport native publishes first novel
Author: LEIGH ANN LAUBE
Harriet Sackett, an outspoken feminist American photographer who travels the world wearing pants instead of ladylike dresses, goes to Italy to photograph Etruscan tombs. She gets more than she bargains for when she meets Federigo del Re, who claims to be a reincarnated Etruscan spirit.
"The Etruscan," (Wynkin deWorde Ltd., $26), Kingsport native Linda Lappin's first novel, is set in an area of Italy called Tuscia - Etruscan territory - in the 1920s. It's an area untouched by tourism where the people still live by ancient trades.
It's been Lappin's home for nearly a decade.
A 1971 graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School, Lappin attended Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., and earned her master of fine arts degree in creative writing at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. She went to Italy on a Fulbright grant and eventually got a job teaching English at the University of Rome.
"That was in 1981. It was very exciting to live in a European capital and teach at an Italian university. I enjoyed it so much that I just stayed on," she said. "I later switched to a smaller university in a town north of Rome, Viterbo, located in Etruscan country, where I became interested in the Etruscans. Then I married an Italian in 1992, and so it looks as though I have settled down for good here."
Because of her interest in the writers and atmosphere of the early 20th century, and because of other influences, Lappin's novel opens in 1920s London and closes in 1945.
"The great English novelist, D.H. Lawrence, visited the Etruscan areas of Italy in the '20s and wrote a travel book about the Etruscans, entitled ‘Sketches of Etruscan Places,' near the end of his life. Lawrence was a very environmental-conscious writer for his times, and he hated the way mining and industrialization had destroyed the English countryside. He also felt that the then-dreadful conditions for workers in the mines and industries had reduced human beings of the early 20th century to machines. He imagined the Etruscans, who were technologically very sophisticated and also very artistically inclined, as a people who lived in harmony with nature and with their inner being, unlike modern men."
"He also believed they were the custodians of the secret of life," she said. "The Etruscans weren't very well-known in the '20s. We know much more about them today, though they still remain mysterious. Lawrence's beliefs about the Etruscans as possessors of a secret knowledge concerning the meaning of life was one of the main inspirations for my novel."Lappin's story centers on the adventures of photographer Harriet Sackett, who travels to the Tuscia to photograph and research the Etruscan tombs.
Months later, Harriet's friend Sarah, and Sarah's husband Stephen, meet up with Harriet in Florence. Sarah become deeply worried about Harriet's welfare and, on her return to London, Sarah sends her housekeeper to help for awhile. Almost immediately, the housekeeper, Mrs. Parsons, sends an urgent telegram summoning Sarah and Steven back to Italy.
Mrs. Parsons has found Harriet emaciated, on the point of collapse and unable to communicate. The atmosphere in the country cottage is deeply unsettling and the only clue to her condition is the discovery of a diary documenting a passionate relationship with the mysterious Federigo del Re.
While working on the novel, Lappin lived in a farmhouse outside the gates of the old town, with a window overlooking a gorge where dozens of tombs have been hollowed out of the rock face. While doing research, Lappin discovered that it was quite common for local people to believe they were somehow in touch with the Etruscans, who were defeated by the ancient Romans long before the birth of Christ.
"Nearly every home in the area has a collection of valuable - and nowadays illegal - Etruscan artifacts gathered by grandfathers or great-grandfathers, dug up while plowing a field or on a tomb-hunting expedition," Lappin said. "Before the Second World War, many families supplemented their income by digging up artifacts and selling them to dealers in Rome. Many people discovered tombs in their back yards or on their farmlands. Living surrounded by the evidence of a vanished and mysterious people who believed that death was only a transition to another state of being obviously had an impact on the local culture.
"So it is common, particularly in older people born before the Second World War, to feel a special connection with the Etruscans, to fantasize that they are descended from noble Etruscan families.
"I was very struck by this attitude, which partly inspired the figure of Federigo del Re. The count is really based more on characters from literature, like Healthcliff in ‘Wuthering Heights' or Mr. Rochester in ‘Jane Eyre,' than on any historical person. But after I wrote the book I learned that there was a man living in the area in the '30s and '40s, a member of a local noble family, who claimed to be in contact with the Etruscans and was himself a reincarnated Etruscan spirit. I didn't know that while I was writing the book."
Lappin, who has just completed "Katherine's Wish," a new novel based on the life of writer Katherine Mansfield, plans to return to Kingsport in August to visit her parents.
Lappin is still trying to work out distribution for "The Etruscan" in the United States, she said. "The best way to get it at present is through the British amazon, www.amazon.co.uk It's very easy to order the book from them. There is also an online Irish bookstore, www.kennys.ie, that will ship at cheap prices all over the world."
Lappin is also helping organize writers workshops for American universities and colleges through her organization Centro Pokkoli. She will bring the Kenyon Review Writing Workshop from Kenyon College, in Ohio, to Vitorchiano in June, followed by a group from Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C.For more information on Lappin, her books or the writers workshops, visit www.lindalappin.net, www.TheEtruscan.com and www.pokkoli.com.
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A must for those seeking a taste of the international and psychological. Recommended! ---- MBR Small Press Review
Eerie, Elegant, and Entertaining -- Italy Insider
" Lappin is a modern day Agatha Christie with prose that is like eating dark chocolate or sipping a glass of fine wine the story continues to entice your senses and simply gets better and better the more you partake. " Vikki Walton, I Love a Mystery
June 2013 Small Press Books Recommends Signatures in Stone for a summer read!
FROM LIBRARY JOURNAL
Lappin, Linda. Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery. Caravel: Pleasure Boat Studio. 2013. 285p. ISBN 9781929355907. pap. $18. MYS
Ensconced by her forceful publisher Nigel in a rundown villa in the Italian town of Bomarzo, writer Daphne DuBlanc (Marilyn Mosley is her nom de plume) is stuck for an idea for her next Edna Rutherford mystery. It doesn’t help that she has smoked the last of the hashish she secretly brought from Paris. “Without inspiration I could not write. What was needed was a new batch of signatures, those curious messages our waking life sends us from our unconscious, which I have come to see as promptings from the muse, and even as a spiritual guide for my own existence.” But as she begins to explore the villa, which is filled with priceless artistic treasures, and the neighboring 16th-century sculpture garden known as the Monster Park, Daphne finds signs and clues—a broken head of a china doll, a pearl button, an ancient map—to deeper mysteries about this strange place and its inhabitants: the gatekeeper Manu and his daughter Amelia, Professor Firestone, an American art history scholar writing about the Monster Garden, Clive, a novice painter, and even the down-at-heel aristocratic Nigel.
Verdict Deftly mixing fascinating art history and murder with an exotic atmospheric setting (the Bomarzo garden actually exists), dramatic historical period (1928 fascist Italy), and fully fleshed characters, Lappin (The Etruscan) has written a hallucinatory gothic mystery in which no one is as they appear. Daphne is a most memorable, if a bit unreliable (thanks to her opium habit), narrator. Readers looking for an intelligent summer mystery will find much to savor here.—Wilda Williams, Library Journal
Seeking inspiration in the timeless Italian landscape, four unlikely misfits find their destinies entangled in the meanders of the mysterious sculpture garden of Bomarzo, peopled with freaks and monsters. Daphne, a writer with a hashish habit; Clive, an American gigolo and aspiring artist; Nigel, an English aristocrat down at the heels; and Finestone, a fly-by-night art historian, come together in a decrepit villa looked after by two Italian servants who are not what they seem. To find their heart's desire, all the characters must descend into the depths of hell, but not everyone will make it out alive. In the hideous sculptures of Bomarzo, Daphne must face up to the hidden sides of herself while solving the mystery of a murder for which she has been unjustly accused. She will discover that her own journey to hell has already been written, sculpted by an unknown genius centuries ago in these signatures in stone.
In Signatures in Stone, Linda Lappin brings all her nonpareil gifts for creating eye-catching local color, intricate plots, and sinister threats to give readers a glimpse into the minds and manners of a small group of artists, blackguards, and scoundrels in 1920s Italy, keeping us securely in our easy-chairs with the reading light on. In the villa at Bomarzo, roughly a 100 miles north of Rome, and especially in its fabled Monster Park, we have all the necessary elements for a mysterious divertissement--hidden panels, secret passages, menacing and enigmatic art, hallucinations, erotic intrigue, old maps, old books, ancient mysteries, and sudden, blood-curdling manifestations from the beyond--all wielded cunningly by a master storyteller. I continue to be amazed by Lappin's feel for history, the genius of landscape, and the appurtenances of everyday life as well as her magnificent vocabulary for rendering, subtly and in detail, such things as an appetizing (or unappetizing) meal or a stroll through nature (or a tomb). She has an equally nuanced understanding of topics as far-ranging as Paris in the 20s, Renaissance and Etruscan art, alchemy, and the occult. Moments in the novel would remind you of James in The Turn of the Screw as you question the reliability of her narrator Daphne Dublanc. Others of Fowles in The Magus with its air of hidden mysteries beyond the pale. But the whole effect is Lappin's and the awareness that we "are constantly immersed in a network of signs and symbols whose meaning eludes us, but which, if we could read them, would reveal every detail of our past and even predict our future," all of which becomes manifest in the novel's vibrant, surprising, and wholly satisfying conclusion. Signatures in Stone is a capriccio ermetico you won't want to miss. --Tom Wilhelmus, Southern Indiana Review
Linda Lappin's second novel, Katherine's Wish (Wordcraft of Oregon, 2008) won a gold medal at the IPPY awards in the category of historical fiction, honorable mention in the general fiction category of the Eric Hoffer prize, and was a Finalist for the ForeWord Book of the Year award.
In 1978 Lappin received a Fulbright grant to participate in a two-year seminar in literary translation held in Rome at the Centro Studi Americani. Her translation of Carmelo Samonà's novel, Brothers, won two prizes in literary translation in the United States: The Renato Poggioli Award in Translation given by the New York PEN club and a National Endowment for the Arts grant in translation. She was awarded a second translation grant from the NEA in 1996 for her work on Tuscan writer Federigo Tozzi. Her first novel, The Etruscan, was published in 2004 by Wynkin de Worde.
Since 1976, Lappin has published essays, poems, reviews, and short stories in many US and European publications.
Lappin recently completed a creative writing book entitled, The Genius Loci: A Writer's Guide to Capturing the Soul of Place. A brief section of the book will be featured in the November issue of The Writer. In addition to The Genius Loci Lappin has also written a mystery novel, Signatures in Stone.
R.A. Rycraft: When did your interest in writing emerge?
Linda Lappin: Even as a child I wrote poems and stories, and I felt an irresistible attraction to my father's Royal typewriter. There's a photo of me at age four, standing stark naked at the typewriter, writing a poem.
R.A.: What a great image! Baring it all for art. Lovely. Do you, as a writer, take things from your life and turn them into fiction?
L.L.: Writing for me is the output phase of a process of absorption, crystallization, and transformation of impressions. For me, the output takes the form of inventiveness with language and story. A sense of place—or rather the soul of place—has been the chief source of inspiration for nearly all my fiction. My stories begin with a process of enchantment and interaction with a place. Vernon Lee, the British travel writer and ghost story writer of the early 20th century, once claimed that she could not live anywhere that had not been warmed by other people's lives. I know what she means. She could somehow sense the presence of previous lives permeating landscapes and interiors. That's what happens to me when a piece of fiction comes into being. I get caught up in the soul of a place I have visited, and then as I muse about it, I begin to hear different narrative voices—voices materialize, characters emerge and define their identities, and then their stories unfold. That's when I start writing it all down, following the stories through the landscape. In the initial stages, most of my work begins by "writing itself."
My short fiction is all set in contemporary times. Early stories are based in Rome and relatively autobiographical—the struggles of a single woman getting along in a foreign culture and seeking some kind of direction. My longer fiction tends toward historical novels. My first novel, Prisoner of Palmary, is set in the 18th century, while the others—The Etruscan, Katherine's Wish, and my new novel, Signatures in Stone—are all set in the 20s. One theme that dominates my work has to do with the problem of being a writer, or an artist, reconciling "imagination"—and a commitment to imagination and its fruits—with "reality" and its limitations. At the same time, displacement and exile are also key issues in my fiction, and I guess that reflects some of my own experience as an expat.
R.A.: I imagine that the development of a historical novel is different from a novel that is purely fiction. For John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath evolved from articles he wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle about the plight of displaced people from the Midwest, migrating to California in search of work during the Great Depression. How did Katherine's Wish evolve for you?
L.L.: I started collecting books, essays, and other material about Mansfield in 1978. A couple years later in London, I picked up a book called Gurdjieff and Mansfield by a writer named James Moore. Moore had written a dazzling piece of literary and cultural scholarship, which reads like a novel, in vivid, quirky prose. I became interested in Gurdjieff, too, and in other writers, artists, and "people of note," including Peter Brook, who had been attracted to Gurdjieff's school. Piecing together all this material was very exciting. I spent a fortune on books and microfilms and interlibrary loans. I remember how excited I was when I found Ida Baker's memoirs available at the British Council Library in Rome. One thing that fascinated me was reading the chronicle of Mansfield's life through Ida's eyes and seeing how their two versions of the same events fit together and how they deviated. That, of course, led to my reading all the critics and friends and associates of Mansfield, describing their relationship and her relationship with Murry from the outside, trying to blame the peculiar dynamics and suffering of this triangle only on one of the three—and not seeing, in a way, what a complete "whole" the story made when you stood aside without judging the three main actors who could not be other than they were.
R.A.: It sounds as though Mansfield obsessed you. I wonder why Mansfield? What about her captured your interest and imagination?
L.L.: My interest was not so much from reading her stories but from picking up C.K. Stead's Penguin edition of the letters and journals back in 1978. The vivid writing, the struggle with illness, the loneliness, the desire above all things to become a writer and to improve at her art are what struck me most. The sense of displacement and longing that comes from her letters resonated with me. And then I attended the Paris Writing Workshop in 2000, which turned into a pilgrimage of sorts. While there, I visited the cemetery of Avon, where Katherine Mansfield is buried, and the Prieurè of Fontainebleau where she had been the guest of Gurdjieff's Harmonious Development of Man—an institute created by George Ivanovic Gurdjieff, the much-discussed spiritual leader of the last century. Mansfield went there after a long, sterile journey seeking health, which began in 1918 when she discovered she had tuberculosis. From that moment on, her life became a restless pilgrimage, crisscrossing Europe on trains, accompanied by her companion Ida, separated most of the time from her husband, John Middleton Murry, looking for a better climate, a new cure, a home. This particular aspect of Mansfield's life intrigued me, and I sought to discover how this writer from New Zealand, a little land with very little history, ended up at Prieurè of Fontainebleau, knocking at Gurdjieff's door.
Mansfield never overcame her sense of being an "exile"—due to the great stretches of time she spent away from Murry looking for a cure—also she felt an intense nostalgia at times for the New Zealand of her childhood. As an expatriate, I identify with her feeling of rootlessness.
R.A.: Visiting the Prieure where she died must have been haunting experience.
L.L.: Yes. And sad too. When my husband and I went to the Prieurè we discovered the building in the process of being renovated and turned into a prestigious apartment residence. There was no trace of Mansfield or Gurdjieff ever having been there, no plaque or inscription on the building or gate. The only evidence of Mansfield's presence was a nearby street with the illustrious name Rue Katherine Mansfield. On that particular day, the gate was open. And then a side door was open. I went inside the building and was able to take a look around. Sergio snapped a wonderful photo of a staircase. I imagine it to be the staircase Mansfield might have ascended just before dying of a hemorrhage on January 9, 1923.
R.A.: You said you wrote about that experience.
L.L.: After I returned from visiting the Prieurè, I wrote a sort of pilgrimage essay about my trip to Fontainebleau and Mansfield's sojourn there. At the same time, I was working on an essay about Jeanne Hebuterne (the subject of my current fiction project).
R.A.: Who is Jeanne Hebuterne? I'm not familiar with that name. You say you're writing about her as a "fiction project?"
L.L.: Yes, a fictional account based on the life of Jeanne Hebuterne entitled The Diary of JH. She was the companion of the painter Modigliani. It has only come out in the last decade or so, thanks to research promoted by Modigliani's daughter, Jeanne Modigliani, that Jeanne Hebuterne was a promising artist herself and that they worked closely together in his studio. She is usually pictured in memoirs of the period as a shadowy long-suffering companion, but rarely as an artist with her own aspirations. This is partly because her works were hidden to the world by the Hebuterne family for eighty years after Jeanne's death and have only recently begun to circulate as her story becomes more widely known.
I should mention that Modigliani had previously been the lover of Beatrice Hastings. Hastings had also been the mistress of Orage, the man who pointed Mansfield in Gurdjieff's direction. I was interested in finding some information about Hastings, since there wasn't much in print, and discovered James Moore's address on the Internet. I wrote to ask him if he had any information and also told him I was researching Mansfield. Amazingly, he replied that my query was an extraordinary coincidence. He was in the very process of eliminating material from his files he no longer needed and offered to send it to me; this included some very hard to find documentation about Mansfield's stay at the Prieurè. Moore's material helped me complete my essay, "The Ghosts of Fontainebleau."
R.A.: That is an extraordinary coincidence. Was it "The Ghosts of Fontainebleau" that became the first chapter of Katherine's Wish?
L.L.: No. I first showed "The Ghosts of Fontainebleau" to David Applefield, who was publishing the French literature and arts journal, FRANK at the time. He suggested I turn the essay into a story, which I did. Then I showed the story to Thomas E. Kennedy, who suggested I write another, so I did. The second story was called "Hotel Beau Rivage." It eventually became the first chapter of Katherine's Wish. At that point, the project took off. Once I started, the story just flowed. I "knew" how the voices of the three primary characters ought to sound and what settings I should choose for framing the action. I knew where the story would begin and exactly where it would end.
R.A.: How did you incorporate your research into the novel?
L.L.: Originally, I interwove brief passages and phrases from Mansfield's writings into my own text, thinking it wouldn't be hard to get permission to use the originals. But this turned out to be a nightmare because some of the texts I had used were under copyright in the United States and others weren't. The people at Knopf and at the British Society of Authors, which holds the rights to the Mansfield estate, tried to help, but it was such a mess that I decided to comb through the novel, remove direct quotes, and paraphrase what I needed. It was like picking a dozen needles out of a haystack. A lot of people thought I was crazy to do it. But to me it seemed the path of least resistance, so I did it.
R.A.: The Etruscan, Katherine's Wish, and Signatures in Stone are set in the same era and place—early 20th century Europe—an apparently prudish world experienced through the eyes of nonconformist women. What attracts you to this era and subject?
L.L.: At the University of Tuscia where I taught English for many years, there was a great interest in women writers, Bloomsbury, Virginia Woolf, modernism, and to a lesser degree, Katherine Mansfield, so that I was continually receiving stimulation and new ideas. Aside from that, I guess I am just naturally attracted to this period. I love reading about (and researching) Paris in the 20s and lesser known figures connected to Bloomsbury. I am attracted to the sense of freedom, modernity, openness to alternative lifestyles, sophistication, and willingness to take all kinds of risks in their lives and work that writers and artists of this period show. I am fascinated by the communities they created, the magazines, presses, and bookstores they founded. Many Americans went abroad to live at that time because they felt suffocated by the provincialism of the United States and by the mentality that would later lead to the banning of Ulysses.
R.A.: You mentioned earlier "the palpable soul of place." What do you mean by that? What puts you in touch with the "soul of place" you weave into your stories?
L.L.: The search for the soul of place is one of my passions as traveler, writer, and writing teacher. My work is often inspired by places: islands, ruins, old houses and buildings, and the atmospheres found there. For several years, I have been researching the "genius loci," the spirit or soul of place. The Romans and the Etruscans believed that every place—every mountain, field, body of water—had its indwelling spirit or soul, which was beneficial or harmful to human activity. And every house and household was believed to have its tutelary spirits. Similar beliefs in guardian spirits exist all over the globe. For the Romans and Etruscans, the soul of place was an entity with which human beings were constantly interacting and communicating. At the same time, the soul of place gave a place its specific character, and the people living there reflected that character. This idea has stimulated me for a long time, and it influenced me while writing The Etruscan as well as my island stories and my first novel, Prisoner of Palmary, set on an island in the gulf of Gaeta in the late 1700s. Many of the travel writers of the early twenties, including D. H. Lawrence and Vernon Lee, focus on the soul of place—how and where it may be found. Vernon Lee often showed how harming the soul of place could also lead to obsession and death.
Soul of place is portrayed in my most recent novel, Signatures in Stone. This is a mystery novel set in Bomarzo, a sculpture park here in the area of Tuscia, created between 1550 and 1570. The sculptures represent bizarre creatures and pagan gods and were probably meant as "visions" of a personal, pagan pilgrimage through hell in order to recover Persephone and liberate her from Hades. For centuries, the place was abandoned, all-but-forgotten by art historians until about eighty years ago, so that it became completely overgrown. Signatures in Stone takes the rediscovery of the park as its starting point. The heroine is an older British mystery writer who is staying in Bomarzo in 1928 with a group of eccentric tourists while the park is being cleared of hundreds of years of thorns, vines, and debris. In the midst of this process of "uncovering," a murder happens, and she is the prime suspect. I can't say more without spoiling the fun. I will say that the heroine is loosely based on the writer Mary Butts, and, like Butts, is obsessed with the idea of "signatures" or "correspondences"—the idea that insignificant events, objects found in the street, words overheard, minor changes in our immediate environment can be "read" and interpreted to reveal the secrets of the past or predict the future.
R.A.: You have said, "Writing is an exhilarating process through which writers briefly estrange themselves from their own lives. This may or may not be therapeutic." What do you mean?
L.L.: By being estranged from your own life, I was referring to the fact that you can write about yourself and your own life through situations that are remote from your own outer circumstances and through characters who are quite different from yourself but into whom you distill some of your deepest insights, conflicts, or experience. Everything we write is a projection of ourselves, though we may not immediately recognize ourselves in our projections. In this sense, writing may be therapeutic because you "work out" hidden or unconscious content without even realizing that you are doing it. I was also referring to the fact that there is a curious "getting outside ourselves" thing that happens when we write, so that we can look at ourselves—our thoughts and our actions—from a totally new perspective. It's like those flashes that sometimes come to you when waking from a dream. Maybe you glimpse your arm or your hand as you lie there in bed, and you think for a moment how strange it is to be the person you are, in the body you have been given. Through writing we discover things, about ourselves and the world that we didn't know before, or, rather, that we didn't consciously know before. Whether or not that is therapeutic depends, I suppose, on the attitude we take to it, and what we do with what we discover.
R.A.: Has writing been therapeutic for you?
L.L.: For a long time, I faced continual rejection. I spent enormous amounts of time writing and rewriting. I spent money when funds were very limited (and we all know that writing is an expensive hobby), struggling to get my work into print, to make connections with editors or magazines, and all those varied chores you have to see to in order to further your writing career. This was done while working two "real jobs" in the "real world" (one as a teacher and one as an Italian translator) as well as taking care of my home and husband, commuting between two residences, and creating a writing center at the Centro Pokkoli. Through it all, I would get up from my desk after hours of work and ask myself—Now, why am I doing this? Should I keep on? How long before I throw in the towel? These questions tormented me for years.
Prior to last spring, I would have said that far from being a form of therapy, writing was both an obsession and a dis-ease. A compulsion. However, last spring something happened that caused me to challenge my identity as a valid member of the "working world." I found myself washed out by an "identity" tsunami, treading water, and the thing that kept me afloat and paddling back to shore was my writing. I realized that the sacrifices and efforts made up to that point had not been useless. The parallel life I made for myself as a writer came to my rescue and helped me keep alive my self-esteem at a very bad moment.
R.A.: Some writers accept their identity as "writers" enthusiastically, while others are uncomfortable with the term. I once heard Judy Blunt speak about her uneasiness when described as a writer. She explained that she felt a bit like a "fake" because, at that point, she had published several essays and but one memoir. I found her admission intriguing given that she is a best-selling author and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. In my mind, she's earned the title. How about you? Have you come to terms with your identity as a writer now?
L.L.: One doubt that sometimes comes to me is that I don't really have the "stuff": the talent, the dedication, the intellect to become a "real writer." I still have problems thinking of myself as a "real writer." And when I see those words—"Linda Lappin, writer"—some little mischievous part of me smirks and makes a deprecating comment. Again, this is related to what I was just talking about—the torment about why one does what one does. Recently, I realized that that whole little song I sang to myself about not being good enough distracted me from the antidote to the malaise—working harder to improve.
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A New Mystery Novel Set in Bomarzo published in 2013 by Caravel Books, an Imprint of Pleasure Boat Studio Click on the above link to read reviews, view the book trailer, see photos of the garden which inspired the novel, link to a free chapter on goodreads, and download the readers' guide
Runner up in Fiction, New York Book Festival, 2010
"Haunted... vivid... entrancing"... Kirkus Reviews
Click here to read reviews, watch videos, and download the free Readers' Guide for Book Groups. The revised edition is now on KINDLE
Katherine's Wish "A dazzling bit of fictional sorcery" David Lynn, editor Kenyon Review
A new novel about the lives of Katherine Mansfield
and her circle
Gold Medal Winner in Historical Fiction, IPPY Awards