Interview With Teresa Neumann, Author of A Year in the Company of Freaks
you share a bit about your journey to becoming a writer/published
was always a natural medium of communication for me, but it went from
a personal to a professional level in 2001. I credit the fascinating
life mysteries of my husband’s Italian grandparents for the change.
That year, at the acceptance of an invitation by my husband’s
relatives in Tuscany, a visit to Italy turned epic and spawned my
first book, “Bianca’s Vineyard.” That novel, and its sequel
“Domenico’s Table” – both based on true stories – were my
initiation into the world of being a published author. I took a bit
of a risk, however, writing “A Year in the Company of Freaks”
because it was a departure from my first two books in terms of time
and location, although it still integrates some Italian themes. As an
author, I’m open to exploring different subject matters and genres.
back, can you see any indications growing up that you would embrace
writing as a career? A favorite memory would be great!
have always been a voracious reader. As a matter of fact, my mother
was fond of telling me that I would just sit and stare at telephone
books when I was a toddler. Go figure. In high school I was a total
book worm and classic literature nerd. Ah, the written word! It never
fails to seduce. As with most writers, I imagine, when stories come
into my head I can’t help but put a pen to paper. It’s as natural
to me as breathing.
did the idea to write A Year in the Company of Freaks come about? How
much of the story was based on personal memories?
children, and their friends, were always asking my husband and I
(former hippies) what it was like living in the late 1960’s and
early 70’s. Like so many other epochs in history, that time period
had been so over-generalized and romanticized that they imagined it
was all love, flowers and rainbows. I lived in northern California in
the early 70’s and count it a miracle I survived, considering all
the truly stupid things I did. Like hitchhike. Everywhere. Every day
… and night. That’s not to mention the friends I lost to drugs.
So, since the truth was a bit less glorious, and because children
have an uncanny ability to tune out what they don’t want to hear
from their parents -- I wrote a novel based on personal observations
of that time period. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
an author - what do you enjoy most about writing process? What feels
like a chore?
I enjoy most about writing is getting lost in the story as I create
I’m committed to a book, I’m extremely disciplined, which means
time flies. It’s only when I’m done writing the draft and I have
to do major edits that it begins to feel like a chore. Ugh -- a big
is your third book. Has the process been the same for each -
how you schedule your writing, research, marketing, etc. - or has it
varied for each book? If so in what way?
basically the same process. I start each day reviewing what I wrote
the day before. It “stirs up the creative juices” and keeps any
potential writer’s block at bay. Though I love research, I prefer
doing it first so that I don’t get bogged down or distracted once I
start writing. As for marketing? I hate it. I’d much rather just
write and meet with my readers! That said, Italian-Americans have
been hugely supportive of my writing and have helped me market my
books at various summer fairs. Several wineries have also hosted book
signings. Thank God for them, social media, bloggers and digital book
do you like to do to unwind? Do you like to read? Do you have
any favorite authors/books?
What’s that? LOL! I love relaxing to a feel-good movie. No
nail-biters. Nothing heavy where I have to think too hard. Reading,
of course, is the best for unwinding. I just finished “The
Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. The novelist Elizabeth Goudge is a
gem few Americans know about. I LOVED her book, “The Dean’s
Watch.” Brian Doyle – recently deceased – was a Northwest
author whose talent blew my mind. Though we may differ slightly on
some of the world-views he espouses in several of his books (always
tricky for non-partisan readers when a novelist showcases their
leanings), I always give credit where credit is due. Perhaps the
greatest American writer of this century, Doyle was an absolutely
brilliant word-smith who could bring me to tears with his prose.
Unfortunately, my other favorite authors/poets are also gone from
this earth: Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Hardy, Dickens, Dumas, the Bronte
sisters, Hugo, Tennyson, St. Vincent-Millay … How I would have
loved to have met them all.
would you most like readers to know about you and your work?
an optimistic romantic/realist who treasures family and cherishes a
simple life peppered with far-flung adventure. I dream of Italy, melt
at the mere thought of French pastries, am a huge fan of British
humor, and embrace my wild Celtic heritage … perhaps a little too
much at times. I love people. I believe faith, unconditional love,
forgiveness, and redemption play a vital role in humanity. They have
next? Do you have anything new in the planning or writing stages?
working on a children’s book (it’s MUCH harder than I imagined it
would be) and resurrecting a screenplay I wrote years ago; an
adaption of a 17th century classic. I am VERY excited about it!