Where are you from
Philadelphia, PA. Moved to Tampa Bay, FL in 1991
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
Late bloomer. Returned to college in my late 20s and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in English at age 37. I am part Romani (Gypsy) but my parents wanted to completely assimilate so we just pretended to not be different. My mother’s mother is the one who kept the culture alive and taught me how to be a drabarni, or healer. She was wonderful as a physical healer but I like healing the mind or spirit by being a good listener and using my meager talents when asked. I am married and have two sons and a granddaughter living in Philadelphia.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m an Independent Author/Publisher and now writing my first poetry book for publication in late January.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
The library was my favorite refuge and I loved mysteries. I used to write them on little tablets.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Wrote my first mystery at age 10 and when I became a teenager in the 60s I was convinced I would be a best-selling author by age 21 (eye roll needed here).
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My love of reading.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Of the three books I self-published, the first is a quasi-memoir, the second is a teen or aging hippie novel and my most recent is non-fiction. My next will be a poetry book.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I’m struggling with the title for my poetry book. I don’t want it to sound pretentious or too light. My other three books all have the word “Gypsy” in them but I have made the decision to generalize this title.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I only have one novel and although the importance of love and peace was derived from my hippie years, a drabarni takes an oath to do no harm. I think it is important to at least try to tolerate others. We have all suffered in varying degrees, so why not try to be understanding and supportive as we move along our life’s path?
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
All of my books are autobiographical. I believe that fiction is not my forte because I can’t seem to make imagination more important than reality. Reality is not always pretty, or fun, to read.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes. I always write what I know.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Mainly what I read as a young teen in the 60’s: Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf, Lord of the Rings, Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl, T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland, all of Virginia Woolf’s books, then in the 80s I read a lot of the feminist writers who just confirmed what I had known on my own anyway. Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With A Thousand Faces has always been a map along my path and I strongly recommend it.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Virginia Woolf is my favorite writer. There is no way that I could ever touch her brilliance, her use of language, but we writers must reach toward the sun at all times in order to grow.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I hardly sleep so tend to read 3 books at once: Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem is a laugh-aloud book and I stand in awe of his use of words. I am also reading a dictionary of symbols and a book on fermentation.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Donna Tartt, Marisha Pessl and Yangsze Choo. I’ve reviewed their books in Goodreads and Amazon. I am also grateful for the invention of the Kindle and the ability to self-publish for free. I have discovered so many wonderful authors who never would have had the chance to interest a traditional publishing house, yet they are excellent writers and I have reviewed many of them also.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
My poetry book. I wrote poetry in the 60’s, most of it pretty bad with lots of whining, and then in the 90’s. Some of those poems will be added to my book.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I have a very small circle of friends who have been supportive. I “met” two of them on the internet and I feel as if I’ve known them forever. My virtual life is very rich! I have a friend who buys my books and gives them away as presents and I feel so special. One of my sons, also a struggling writer, has reviewed my books on a website where he is now the editor-in-chief.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I retired a few years ago after working for 50 years and was so bored and lost. Fortunately, I once again embraced my early interest in writing and think of it as my career although I am realistic enough to understand that I will not earn any money from it.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I have one theme running through my first 3 books, the Drom Ek Romani (Way of One Gypsy) that is similar to the tarot but it is my personal life path. I’ve repeated it in all three books. I think I would have not written the first two books and concentrated on making Drab Lil, A Gypsy’s Medicine Book, a comprehensive book on everything I’ve learned. I notice that someone reviewed it and gave me 2 stars because she thought it would be all about herbs and it is mainly about tarot. I think I wasn’t specific enough in my description because to me, reading cards for others is not giving them dire predictions but it is giving the questioner a prop in which to confide or unburden to me, the drabarni, and I therefore heal them by listening and then offering suggestions (my version of a medicine) based on the meanings of the cards. I will let the books stand, though, because like the author Carlos Zafon, my books are now in “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books” and may someday help at least one person and that would make me feel successful.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Growing up with books around the house. Receiving books for gifts. Weekly visits to the library. The great escape, for me, has always been through the written word.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am writing a sonnet for each one of the 22 Drom Ek Romani cards. Here’s #3 Drabarni:
3 – Drabarni
Selfless healer, the Drabarni helps cure
For only through health and strength can she mend
But she must take care of herself before
The illnesses of others can transcend
Tripartite Drabarni’s holistic aid:
Use wild herbs for a physical rapport
Listening assists the mental blockade
But emotions require so much more
Intuitive healing with cards, tea leaves,
The lines of the palm and mystical dreams
Guides one to earth’s harmony as it weaves
The secret enigma of all life’s themes
Other than an act of the universe
Most problems can be put into reverse
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I decided to only do a few free verse poems; the rest will be sonnets and some of the other forms of poetry. They are quite confining and require a lot of discipline. A sonnet, for instance, has the rhyme scheme of ABAB/CDCD/EFEF/GG and Shakespearean sonnets require that the meter be in iambic pentameter, 10 syllables. So I walk around the house flicking my fingers as I try to count each sentence and sometimes I feel my jaw clenching. But I love it….
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Virginia Woolf. Her stream-of-consciousness fiction is above anything I’ve ever read, but I like her essays too. Since I had to hold down a job most of my life I took heart from her “A Room of One’s Own.” Woolf says that she may not ever have been a writer if it wasn’t for an aunt who died and left her an annual inheritance of 500 pounds (dollars) so she could afford a flat to live in, giving her much-needed privacy to write all day. She credits her writing to having “Five hundred pounds and a room of one’s own” and recognizes that most people, but especially women who must support and care for their children, rarely got to hone their writing skills.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, I do not bother with publicity.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My son designed the cover of my second book, The Gypsy’s Book and one of my internet friends designed the Drab Lil, A Gypsy’s Medicine Book cover. I am so touched by the generosity of my closest friends and family.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Same as above (challenging)
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that I will never be a best-selling author and it is ok!
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Writers are in a sweet spot today. We can publish electronically for free and we can publish print versions for the price of a meal in a good restaurant. There is no reason to not write; no reason to give up! My only suggestion is to find a friend or two with a good eye and ask them to proofread. We all make occasional typos and not many of us are perfect with the rules of grammar, but I have read books that would be wonderful but are impossible to read with errors on every single page. Absolutely have someone proofread your work
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I appreciate anyone who takes an interest in my books. I think it is wonderful that we all have the right to review books but I have seen occasional despicable reviews. One person reviewed a book of mine but really reviewed me: my clothing, my this, my that, but never supplied any feedback on the type of writer I am. If you review, please try to stay focused on the mechanics of the writing because reviewers are essential to authors. We want to make you happy and one way of doing that is by telling us how to be a better writer!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
At age 3 I memorized a children’s book and everyone thought I knew how to read (LOL). It was called “A Bird Can Fly And So Can I.” I mention that in my poem “Milestones” because the rhyming of the book set me onto the path of reading.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I like growing herbs and making healing salves. I cannot imagine life without at least 2 dogs. I’m the world’s worst artist but I love drawing and do it anyway. Now that I’m retired I play a lot of computer games. I rock out to music, especially when driving (I’m always 17 inside my head when I hear music). Read, read, read…
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I grew up when TV was new and my mother felt we shouldn’t watch much so I don’t really like TV that much. In fact, my husband was so addicted to TV that this is the first time we bought one in 10 years. I still don’t like it that much but for some strange reason I am addicted to Downton Abbey!
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I’m vegetarian so the crock pot is always bubbling up beans and I like to make lots of veggie goulashes. Red and black are my favorite colors to wear but I love all the chakra colors, especially blues and purples. Classic Rock is my absolute favorite: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, etc., but also Romani music (love those mournful violins), African drums, Indian sitar, jazz, folk, almost all types.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I have mostly worked in academic offices. I started in Financial Aid at age 50 and adored being a Financial Aid and Academic Advisor. Must come from being a card reader/advisor! The student contact was my favorite part of work—I enjoyed helping them–and I miss that the most since retiring.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I do have an author page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RomaniGypsyBooks and although I tend not to have a lot of friends on FB, I would never refuse anyone if they friended me.
Wow! I sure can talk! Thanks for the opportunity!