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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

ℚ An Italian Adventure: It will all make (less) sense when you grow up: The Italian Saga [1] - Gaia B. Amman

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about An Italian Adventure: It will all make (less) sense when you grow up (, Kuki Publishing, 383 pages), a Young Adult Coming of Age novel, book one of The Italian Saga series.

"Insightful and funny, I loved it!" —Paul Schwartzmeyer, author of the Traitor Patriot series

"Touching and skillful, a masterful execution." —Neil Daniel, author of the Obeahman's Dagger

"I could not stop reading and can't wait for more!"— Amy Joslyn, librarian and children's literacy advocate.


Author Q&A | Synopsis | Trailer | Teaser | The Series | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops


A very warm welcome to Gaia Amman - a fellow Italian expatriate :-)  Thank you for joining us on BooksChatter.

What was the inspiration for An Italian Adventure?
"People!  People fascinate me, intricate labyrinths of emotions and experience.  How do we end up doing exactly the things we thought we never would?  How do we change?  The Italian Saga tries to answer these questions by following the same characters throughout their lives.

Book one, “An Italian Adventure” is where it all begins.  It focuses on childhood, friendship, adventure, and family with a humorous yet insightful lens.  At what point do we stop being children?  In my opinion, being a child means believing adults know what they are doing, they dictate what’s right and wrong…till the moment when you realize that they don’t, and you start trying to figure out your own truths; the end of childhood and the beginning of everything else."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"Although the book is fictionalized, it’s very close to my experience of growing up in Italy in the 80s.  I was very much (looks and personality) like bookworm, tomboy Leda.  Like her, I felt all wrong and had a hard time fitting in.

It was amazing to me how many readers, teens to grandparents, identified with different characters in the book reminiscing about their own experience of growing up, falling in love, and fighting to find their own way (based on Amazon reviews)."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for An Italian Adventure  - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"Thanks for asking! I am so very proud of the cover ^_^   I am a researcher by training, and when the time came to design the cover I took my sweet time studying the elements that made my favorite covers stand out: illustrations, color, custom types, layers…

I always admired the work of crazy artistic genius Tom Webb and I was delighted when he loved the book and agreed to work on the series.  We devised together the illustration concept to convey a sense of place (Italy), adventure (kids exploring), humor (the guy shrugging in the grass), but also self reflection (the girl somewhat by herself on the tree, looking away at the town).


The front cover’s lettering was hand painted by artist Silvia Paesante, and it’s unique and whimsical, like the story.  The paperback cover is an overlay of the illustration, yellow watercolor droplets (which I painted myself) and lettering.  Watercolor, with its delicate nuances, recalls the different layers within the book.

The bright yellow color, like the butterfly on the spine, reminds me of childhood.  Butterflies also play a part in the book as they are something beautiful and magical to one character but disgusting and terrifying to another.  They are a symbol for individuality and how our feelings translate the world around us.  Architect and designer (and hubby) Seth Amman helped me bring all the elements together.

Also, I LOVE books in general and I wanted the different volumes in the series to look outstanding together, a true collector’s treasure^_^   They all have a similar layout but the main color will change (book 2 for example, which was just released on January 30, is orange and has a soccer ball on the spine)"

Why should we read An Italian Adventure and the Italian Saga series; what sets it apart from the rest?

"First of all because these books will make you feel loved and understood, no matter how much of a misfit you feel.

Second, for the Italian flavor.  I AM Italian (born and raised) and several Italian readers praised how true to their experience the story is.  Most people think they love Italy, but they don’t really know its culture of contradictions (for example the dichotomy between sensuality and religion).

Third, the books are gripping and funny, but also teach you something and leave you pondering about some big questions."
I really do want to read your books as I am also Italian (born and bread) but living in the UK :-)

Can you tell us something quirky about An Italian Adventure, its story and characters?

"Sure!  For example I can tell you that the town of Arese, where the story takes place, is real and most facts and places are historically accurate (the Chernobyl disaster, for example, or the Alfa Romeo car factory).

Leda is not a common name in Italy.  I wanted a name that was uncommon like mine was back in the day (Gaia is pretty popular right now), so I named my main character after a swimming instructor of my childhood.  She wasn’t even my instructor, but I always thought her name was really cool :)"
That is very true and quite funny as I have a cousin named Leda.  You also use Sardinia as one of the settings for your novels, which is where I spent my early childhood.
This is all ringing a lot of bells for me :-P

Who would you recommend An Italian Adventure to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?

"I would recommend this book to anyone who loves traveling, Italy, humor, and emotional, insightful reads, to tomboys and bookworms who struggle to fit in, to gender confused teens, or men who have a hard time understanding women or struggle accepting their feminine side. Also, I do love romance, and although it’s rarely the main topic in any of my books, it does often weave in and out of the various stories.

Teenagers, parents and grandparents all enjoyed the book so far because they related to different characters.  It’s a good read for all ages.  An ex-marine in his fifties gave it five stars and mentioned in his review on Amazon,
“…If you would have told me that I'd be drawn into the life of a twelve year old girl I would have told you, 'you're nuts'. I would HIGHLY recommend this book for any man with daughters for no better reason than you'll learn what goes on in the mind of a 12 year old girl. Quite honestly, it blew me away. It's like Suzuki without the violins…”
The book will appeal to readers who enjoyed books like “I’ll Give you the Sun” by Jandy Nelson (my personal favorite), any book by Rainbow Rowell, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman, “the Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint Éxupery, and “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie.

Disclaimers?  YES!  There are some swearwords through the books, though they are mostly in Italian.  Also, the books do talk about sex, even if in book one more from a child’s naïve and curious perspective.  They will get steamier as the characters grow up.  The books are NOT cheesy or trashy, but book 4 will talk about sex in a candid, explicit, realistic way (why does no one do that?!)"
What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I like to write books that entertain but that also help and support the reader, no matter who they are.  Young adult is the perfect genre to do that.  I like to talk about problems that everybody else deems awkward or inappropriate.  If it hurts, it needs to be faced and eviscerated :)"
What is your writing process?
"I am a writing machine.  I have my favorite couch at home, but I can write anywhere, anytime.  Ideally I’m in my sweats, with my kitty on my feet, listening to my favorite writing Pandora station (indie music spanning from Kongos to Regina Spektor, Imagine Dragons, the Shins and many more…)

The hardest part for me is drafting.  I often get disheartened and angry.  I never like my drafts. But then I start re-writing, crafting, cutting, re-writing, adding…did I mention re-writing? ;)  I love that part, seeing the book shaping up and becoming a beautiful weave of plot and feelings and incredible places.

My advice to all new writers out there is JUST KEEP WRITING!  Never give up, because NO ONE CAN TELL YOUR STORY."
What is in store next?
"Book 2 “Out of the nest, an Italian Summer” was just released on January 30 2016.  It’s a book about first crushes, friendship, and first kisses, ( but also gender identity and stereotypes, family, and Italian culture) set against the gorgeous backdrop of 1990 Italy, the summer of the 14th FIFA soccer world cup.

Book 3, “Forget Nico, Falling for the Wrong Italian” is more of a romance speaking about teen angst and struggling to fit in, and will be released around April/May.

Book 4 “Sex-O-S, Surviving the First Time in Italy” should be released later in the summer and talks about self awareness, social pressure, eating disorders and struggling to accept one’s own body.

The whole series should be complete at seven books exploring the pursuit of happiness, although each novel is self standing and facing very different topics pertinent to the maturing age of the characters."
Fantastic!  There is a LOT to keep you busy! :-)
Again, thank you so much for chatting to us, Gaia, and for sharing so much about The Italian Saga with us, and wish you all the best with your new release, Out of the Nest: An Italian Summer!


An Italian Adventure
Available NOW!

UK: purchase from Amazon.co.uk US: purchase from Amazon.com purchase from Barnes & Noble find on Goodreads

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