Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Interview with Barbara Oliverio

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Welcome all. 
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Barbara Oliverio author of Love on the Back Burner: A Tasty Romantic Comedy 

Hi Barbara, thank you for agreeing to this interview. 

What were you like at school?

I was always academically at the top of the class, from grade 1 through college and graduate school and was a curious learner. In addition to maintaining a high GPA, I was a pretty normal kid and participated in a wide variety of activities including marching band, newspaper, yearbook, drama, student government, and 4-H club. 

Were you good at English?
I maintained excellent marks in English. I particularly enjoyed diagramming sentences. 

What are your ambitions for your writing career? 
I want to continue creating and sharing my characters in my fiction, but I have a few ideas for some non-fiction work as well. 

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have been a writer in one shape or form all of my life. Before I started concentrating fully on writing fiction, I wrote marketing materials, technical documentation, magazine articles and content for the Web. 

Which writers inspire you?
I am inspired by all the greats throughout the ages: Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Flannery O’Conner and others in the Western Canon. Modern writers that I admire for various reasons include Khaled Hosseini, Susan Howatch, Susan Isaacs and Marian Keyes. 

So, what have you written?
The most notable magazine piece I wrote was “A comparison of RGB and CMYK color models”. In addition, I wrote manuals for image processing software, graphic arts software and an oscilloscope. My marketing writing has been varied. Currently, I regularly write feature articles for the bi-monthly newsmagazine at my parish. Love on the Back Burner is my debut novel. 

Where can we buy or see them?
You can find Love on the Back Burner here: 

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Alexandria is a typical young woman in her mid-20s who feels that she has her marketing career under control, but wonders why love has eluded her. An accomplished cook, she determines that if she learns how to cook the childhood favorites of her suitors, she truly will find the way to their hearts through their stomachs. She is fortunate that she has a solid moral background gained from her multi-generational ethnic (Italian-Catholic) family and she lives her values as part of her day-to-day madcap life. 

How long does it take you to write a book? 
The answer to that depends on your definition of “writing the book”. I spent about six months in a pre-writing stage, doing research, outlining, creating personas for my characters, etc. The actual writing of the book took four months. Another book may not come together that quickly. 

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I wake up and attend 6:30 Mass, then sit down to write a minimum of 1000 words. Despite what the movies lead us to believe, there is no “muse” that strikes…a writer needs to sit down faithfully every day and write. Some days what comes forth is good, other days it may need rewritten. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I can’t write holed up in a silent corner. I need to have some noise around me: music, TV, chatter at Starbucks, etc. 

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? 
This book was inspired by my friend telling me that I should release a collection of my own recipes (my mother’s, those from my own former suitors’ families) as a cookbook. I thought that weaving them into a story would be more fun than a traditional cookbook. I have two other comedic novels in mind that were inspired by stories I heard on the news. 

When did you write your first book and how old were you? 
This is my first novel. Let’s just say I’m no longer in the 35-49 demographic. 

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I cook, do New York Times Crossword puzzles, and visit with friends. In addition, my husband and I enjoy rooting for our favorite sports teams – football, baseball, hockey, soccer, lacrosse – and enjoy traveling throughout the U.S. and abroad. 

What does your family think of your writing?
My husband is my biggest fan. My parents are both deceased, but my brother feels that this is just naturally where I have been leading all my life. 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Since I previously concentrated on non-fiction, this switch to fiction gave me the refreshing ability to create my own world and change it whenever I wanted to. My family has a motto: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”. This is the best way I can live up to that motto. 

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? 
The initial feedback on this novel has overwhelmingly been positive. Readers like the characters and the humor and in addition they like the fact that a romance can be told without sex or crude language. 

Do you like to create books for children?
I haven’t written any children’s books. 

What do you think makes a good story?
I think the formula is a) relatable characters b) realistic dialog and c) a good plot, all written well. 

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
I did that and it was very successful for me. 

Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
I hired a professional editor from three who were recommended to me. The three each took a chapter from the book and edited it on spec. I chose Susan because I could tell she had a good grasp on what I was trying to convey in the story. 

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
I gave my designer a creative brief that outlined the story, the characters, etc., and included images of covers that I liked from my genre. 

Who designed your book cover/s? 
I selected a professional designer after looking at the portfolios of three who were recommended to me. 

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Definitely. My cover is very obviously one for a romantic comedy – chick lit. If I would have had a dark, morbid cover on it, my target audience would not give it a second look. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
The best advice I can give is to READ, READ, READ – everything you can get your hands on. You can learn from the best and learn what not to do from the rest. 

Where do you see publishing going in the future?
Although there is a spike in e-publishing, I think there will always be a place for the printed word on paper. There is just something about picking up an actual book that can’t be replaced. 

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
I want my readers to know that my own faith and values inform my life and my work, but I am fully assimilated into the "real" world. I feel that my writing ability is a gift that I can share whether it is in writing for business, periodicals, or creating fictional characters. 

How can readers discover more about you and you work? 


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