It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Antoinette Truglio Martin, author of The Heart of Bakers and Artists (aka Daily Bread), Becoming America’s Food Stories, and The Dreams of Singers and Sluggers (coming in the Fall of 2021).
About Antoinette Truglio Martin:
Antoinette Truglio Martin is a speech therapist and special education teacher by training but really wants to be a writer when she grows up. She has been collecting and writing stories forever. Over the years Antoinette had been a regular columnist in local periodicals and had several essays featured in newsletters and literary reviews.
Antoinette’s popular children’s picture book, Famous Seaweed Soup was published in 1993 (Albert Whitman Co.). Antoinette’s memoir, Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer (She Writes Press 2017), chronicles her first year battling breast cancer as a wimpy patient. Becoming America’s Stories (Red Penguin Books) a Middle-Grade Historical Fiction series, debut in 2020. The award-winning first book, The Heart of Bakers and Artists, takes place in 1911 and follows nine-year-old Lily Taglia, an American-born child of Sicilian immigrants, coming of age in a crowded New York City three-room Lower East Side tenement. The Dreams of Singers and Sluggers picks up where The Heart of Bakers and Artists leaves off. Lily, her family and friends reach for their dreams as new Americans. Read Becoming America’s Food Stories where there are always good stories around good food.
Antoinette proudly holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook/Southampton University (2016). Be sure to stop by her website and blog, Stories Served Around The Table at https://antoinettetrugliomartin.com/, to read about past and present family adventures, book happenings, and life musings.
About The Heart of Bakers and Artists:
It is 1911, and nine-year-old Lily, an American-born child of Sicilian immigrants loves to sing, and wants to, has to, prove she is not a little kid. She and her large family are crammed into a three-room flat in New York City’s Lower East Side. Everyone must do their share to help out. Big sister Betta sews home piece work and bossy Margaret bakes discounted Daily Bread at Goldberg’s bakery for the Taglia family. Lily wants to do more than dry dishes, keep little sister Gigi out from underfoot, and not make her sisters or Mama crazy with her singing. When Mrs. Goldberg, the baker’s wife, notices Lily’s height and recognizes her artist heart, she invites Lily to learn how to bake Daily Bread with Margaret. Lily is thrilled to have a big kid job in the magical bakery basement where Mrs. Goldberg dances and gives away sweet Knot Surprises. Mama thinks this is a good arrangement too. Now Margaret can quit school to work in a factory for a wage. But Margaret likes school and wants to be a somebody. Besides, she says Lily is just a little kid, and there’s more to baking Daily Bread than height and an artist’s heart. Mama stands firm and Lily tags-a-long with Margaret only to learn that being a big kid is fraught with bullies, disasters, and treacherous streets to cross by herself.
About Becoming America’s Food Stories:
Tales shared through and within generations define our heritage, provide us with empathy over transgressions, and celebrate our adventures. They are as essential as the food that feeds our bodies. Stories fuel our souls. Family food stories are especially rich.
I am blessed with a large, loud and loving family tribe. We enjoy our Sunday dinners and special occasions together. The stories of our ancestors were and still are told around the dinner table. Sitting down surrounded by multi-generations of relations was just as sustaining as the familiar foods served. The memories added spice to our nourishment. Versions of the truth are flushed out as we pass the sauce, laugh out loud, sip wine and dab stained lips.
I included favorite recipes to accompany the stories. The recipes that evolved from the immigration experience to today may differ in procedures, but share taste preferences and a comfort.
Grab a glass of wine. Enjoy the reminiscences, recipes, and love.
Author Interview with Antoinette Truglio Martin:
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- What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I believe distractions throw writers of all levels off course. It is easy to spend too much time on finding the favorite pen, which lamp to turn on, and shuffling the just right music playlist. Setting aside consistent time to write without distractions is part of the challenge.
- Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
No, I like all of my names. My dad was happy that I use all of my names.
- Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I wrote enough reports and academic papers that were for others. That work related writing was for what the world needed from me. Creative writing is for me. But if I want anyone to read what I write, I need to fashion stories that flow well, make sense, and tell a compelling story.
- How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
There is a file box and two file drawers filled with stories I need to work on, finish, or officially abandon.
- What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
For the Becoming America’s Stories series, I got lost in the research. I fell into dozens of rabbit holes on the internet, in the libraries, and at the museums. The Tenement Museum and The Henry Street Settlement were excellent resources and inspired so many story lines.
- What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
I prefer children’s lit. I learned that if I am going to take this writing life seriously, I need to be able to speak to my reader audience. I can talk with kids, read their favorite parts, and be inspired by their insights. Teachers are another favorite audience I like to write to and for.
- Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I wish I was that clever!
- How long on average does it take you to write a book?
A novel takes me a year to complete. Words need to brew and the story has to evolve. I labor with typing, and spelling challenges continue to stall the speed. A children’s picture book can take me a few months to get right. I also take the time to have others read my work as I go along. In turn I am reading their work. All of this takes time.
- What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I handwrite EVERYTHING! Composing on paper is so much more productive than having to stare and fumble with a keyboard and screen. Also, the mind and motor connection with language enhances memory and the writing process.
- Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?
I am a retired speech therapist and special educator. I taught for almost 40 years. I did write while working full time, raising kids, and keeping home and hearth humming. Now that I am retired, I can write more steadily. Since I am not making real sustainable money (yet), I cannot consider this a full time career, but I would like it to be.
- How do you deal with the emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?
It took me days and days to kill off a beloved character in the Heart of Bakers and Artists (aka Daily Bread). I did not originally plan on it. I tried to find a better solution, but there was little choice. She had to die (sniff).
- Where do you get your inspiration?
Family stories stir up a treasure trove of plots and settings. I grew up and still do listen to stories told around the table and in the kitchens of my large and loud family. The characters in the Becoming America’s Stories series are taken from my great grandmothers, grandmothers, and great aunts. They were fantastic storytellers.
To learn more about Antoinette Truglio Martin, here’s where you can find her:
- Website: www.storiesserved.com
- Instagram: @storiesserved
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/antoinettetrugliomartin
- GoodReads: https://bit.ly/38iOKd2