By DANA BORICK
New York Times best-selling author Adriana Trigiani said her latest novel, "The Shoemaker's Wife," took more than 20 years to write.
But she said all writing is really about practice, rehearsal and revision, something she learned early on as a television show writer.
"Well, there's only one way to keep a schedule, and that's to work every day. I don't let a day go by without writing," Trigiani said. "I have to be very organized, and really think things through in advance ... I have a great editor in Lee Boudreaux, so she sat down with me and, through our long relationship, we kept returning to the notion of my grandparents' love story."
Trigiani is the featured artist at the James V. Brown Library's 10th annual Author Gala, which will begin at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Williamsport Country Club.
With her 14th book, Trigiani finally has found a way to tell Carlo and Lucia Bonicelli's story. In the book's acknowledgements, Trigiani said "The Shoemaker's Wife" was published during the 100th anniversary of her grandfather's immigration to America.
"I am the granddaughter of immigrants. I am the granddaughter of a veteran of World War 1 (Carlo Bonicelli), the niece of an officer of World War II (Orlando Bonicelli) and the daughter of an Army vet (Anthony Trigiani) drafted in the late 1950s," Trigiani said. "I wake up every day a very lucky Italian-American girl, and I know I owe a great debt to the family that came before me. I guess you could say, I'm working off that debt, and very happy to do so."
She said family is a central theme because she loves the complexities of family life.
"Family is the root of everything, those interconnections make us who we are, shape us and teach us everything from table manners to how to navigate failure to juggling emotions. Family has it all," she said. "I imagine I'll never stop writing about them."
Trigiani resides in Greenwich Village, N.Y., with her husband, Tim Stephenson, and their daughter, Lucia.
"Our Lucia is named for my grandmother, Lucia Bonicelli. My husband is the lighting designer at the 'Late Show with David Letterman,' and ironically, and perhaps not accidentally - there are no accidents! - her name means light, good, sky," Trigiani said. "Hopefully, I fill her life with stories, family history and traditions, the best sustenance we can give our children. I didn't get here alone."
Trigiani said that while she was writing "Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers," her editor kept asking about Lucia's story, which ended up becoming the basis for Enza's character in "The Shoemaker's Wife."
"Once I heard the voices of Ciro and Enza, I knew that the story would take off naturally, almost seamlessly. They had such distinct voices, all I had to do was listen," Trigiani said. "It's important to be a pretty good talker when writing characters over the course of their lifetimes, but it's also important to be a good listener."
According to Robin Glossner, the director of development at the James V. Brown Library, Trigiani is the only author in the 10 years the library has put on this event who has donated back to them.
"I'm the daughter of a librarian. I was taught to revere books and honor the written word. It is my highest dream to write. The least I can do is something for libraries, the cathedrals of thought," she said. "The James V. Brown Library is a spectacular facility, and there's a real devotion to the community. I never forgot my visit, and I'm really thrilled to return. Your outreach programs are really a model for libraries everywhere. I'm in awe of all that the library does to serve its patrons."
Right now, Trigiani is editing "Ciao, Valentine," the third book in her Valentine series, and a play about Edna Ferber. Going forward, she plans to write epics, too.
"I also listen to my readers. I am in service to them, and what they want, I will do my best to deliver. It's all about my readers - everything I do is for them," she said. "As for a memoir, I don't know. You get me in full in the novels. I'm not nearly as interesting as the characters in my books. Trust me."
Trigiani said she certainly went for an operatic theme within the book with appropriate crescendos and decrescendos in plot, but also for the slow build of big emotions.
"Good storytelling should look easy ... but a great deal of effort goes into the shaping of a moment against a backdrop of broader action," she said. "The endings of all my books are important to me - so important, that I take the most writing hours with the endings. I agonize over them. I pore over them. I read them aloud. Endings are not so much closure for me, but the opening of every heart valve of the novel."
Readers have been so inspired by Trigiani's characters and settings that she decided to create a company that tours locales mentioned in her books.
"I went to Italy seven years ago with Gina Casella to learn how to make shoes. On the return trip, I asked her if she could do tours just like it for my readers. Our tour company was born," she said. "We have walking tours and tasting tours in Greenwich Village where the reader walks in the steps of the characters. Our tours to Italy have grown to include Austria, the UK, Puerto Rico and soon, France."
Now, several of her books are in development for movies and television shows, but her heart is within the printed word.
"I never tire of talking about books - and all my readers inspire me. They give me energy," she said. "I hope I give them hours of entertainment, a respite, and hopefully, spur conversations and reflection. It's important to connect with my readers because I'm creating these books for them. It's all about the reader."
Tickets for the gala are $65 per person with $1,000 sponsorship tables available. Registration and payment is due by Friday.
Raffle tickets and gala reservations are available at the library, and more information is available by calling 326-0536.
Reservations also can be made to Annmarie Phillips by contacting her at 322-6112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.