Interview with by Lucy Appadoo, author of A Life by Design (The Italian Family Series)

Please share a bit about the journey to writing and publishing your very first book. Was this a dream you had as a child, or one that came later in life?

I enjoyed writing as a child but at that time I didn’t want to be a writer until I was an adult. I attempted publishing stories with traditional publishers a number of years ago, but wasn’t successful until I came across a Canadian Publisher who soon went bankrupt. My dream ended at that point years ago, and I had stopped writing until I got an ipad as a gift for Mother’s Day from my husband and two daughters. I started downloading books and read them on ibooks, Apple, and questioned how I could add a book on the ipad. I decided to research self-publishing, then started self-publishing in 2015 with my very first book, Crystal Light. I started on my self-publishing journey and never looked back.

As as a registered Counsellor and Coach in private practice as well as a Rehabilitation Counsellor for the Australian Government, you must work long hours. How do you find time to also write books? Do you have a set time each day or write when inspiration hits?

Working in various capacities is about balancing my time and creating to-do-lists. I find time to write on the weekends and evenings, and sometimes on my days off as I work in my main role four days a week. I have set times several evenings a week (after dinner), but this might increase if I have a deadline with book edits and need to get the book back to the editor, or when I have started on a new novel.

You have eleven published titles and many are set in different parts of the world, such as Italy and Australia. Have you travelled to these places? What type of research do you do to make sure the places, food and people are an accurate reflection of the location?

I travelled to Italy when I was 23 years old and as a 7-year old child, and live in Melbourne, Australia. I researched the history of Italy by interviewing my parents about their childhoods for two of my novels from The Italian Family Series, as well as reading or borrowing books from an Italian association. I also worked with a virtual assistant from Time Etc to check facts about Milan for A Life By Design, and used the Internet (Google facts. images, and Google landmarks).

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Where do you find inspiration for new storylines and characters? Does it get harder or easier with each new book? 

I am inspired with new storylines when I have particular characters in mind, based partly on personal experience and partly on imagination. I also draw ideas or inspiration from my environment, including movies, books, past experiences, and places I visit. At times, I might get an idea pop into my mind so I make sure I jot it down before the idea’s gone. I also get into a meditative space that helps me to immerse myself with a character. The character tends to speak to me. 

I find that when you write a series, it gets harder with each new book as you need to remember the details of previous characters. It can also be easier to write the next book in the series as you’ve established most of the characters in the previous book. I tend to write along the same themes but the plot needs to be somewhat different. With a different book that’s not part of a series, it’s still always a challenge to write a new book as you’re starting from scratch. However, with more experience, it does get easier than when you first start writing.

Are the characters you create ever built from pieces of you, your friends or the people you meet through work?

Yes, my characters are part-imagination and part pieces of me. For example, Elena in A Life By Design is the part of me that is creative, adventurous, likes to try innovative things, and loves Italy. My characters can be a composite of someone I know but never an actual person. However, in Dancing in the Rain and The Beauty of Tears from The Italian Family Series, my characters were inspired by my parents.
What do you find hardest about the writing/publishing process. What part do you find easiest?

The hardest thing about the self-publishing process is the marketing aspect, which takes a long time and requires strategy, persistence, and innovation. The hardest thing about writing is creating the final process to ensure that everything is as perfect as you can make it. The easiest part for me is coming up with a range of ideas and getting caught up in my characters’ journeys.

Between work and writing, you must have a very busy schedule. When you take time for yourself, what do you love to do to relax?

I enjoy reading fiction and non-fiction books, meditation, journaling, going out with friends and family, and watching shows or movies, particularly on Netflix.

Other books in The Italian Family Series

What's the most important piece of advice you can offer to a writer just starting out in this genre?

A writer just starting out in this genre needs to do their research, can complete writing courses, do a lot of reading in the genre to understand the story structure, and use mentors or editors. A new writer needs to persist and follow their writing passion as in the end, holding that book in your hand is definitely worth the hard work and sweat.