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Mary C. Anconetani

After attending the Academy of Arts in Newark, New Jersey, and the Art Students League of New York in New York City, I had a one-woman exhibition at the Perdalma Art Gallery on 57th Street in New York City.

As an Electro-Mechanical Designer, I helped design the Comsat (a communications satellite), the flight control systems for the Concord, the 747, and the DC10.

I studied classical guitar with the internationally renowned classical guitarist, Rolando Valdes-Blain. However, over-practicing ruined my left hand. To strengthen my hand, I switched to the theater organ and then to the piano. Unfortunately, they didn't help me enough to allow me to resume playing the guitar.

After I married Lou, he convinced me to attend William Paterson University to study writing. While there, I achieved the distinction of outstanding senior in the Humanities Honors Program.

I owe my interest in writing to my father, who told the best slice of life stories at almost every dinner meal. My short story "Tunnel Vision" earned First Prize in the Emily Greenaway Creative Writing Award (1989). In 1991, my short story "Wolves" earned their Honorable Mention. My short stories have appeared in Essence Magazine, Footwork (a Paterson Literary Review), and Avanti, (an Italian-American publication).

Although our two amber cats, Daily and Farkle, find my writing inconvenient (especially at meal times), I am happy that Lou is very supportive. I am also delighted that he (unlike the cats) does not walk all over my keyboard while I'm working. It could be distracting.

Mary invites you to her wevsite at -- http://www.marycanconetani.com



Interview

Q: What is your life like outside of your writing?
A:
My husband, Lou, and I have been married for 34 years. We share the love of our two amber cats, Farkel, and his mother, Daily. After I attended the Academy of Arts in Newark, NJ, and the Arts Student’s League of NY, I had a one-woman exhibition at the Perdalma Art Gallery in NYC. As an Electro-Mechanical Designer at ITT, I helped design a communications satellite and at the Bendix Corp., I helped design the Flight control systems for the Concord, 747, and the DC10. I achieved the distinction as an outstanding senior in the Humanities Honors Program at William Paterson in New Jersey.

Q: Have you received any writing awards?
A:
Yes. My short story, “Tunnel Vision,” earned First Prize in the Emily Greenaway Creative Writing Award, and my short story, “Wolves,” earned their Honorable Mention.

Q: What made you start writing?
A:
A chance remark by my father shortly before he died in 1987 about the historic 1913 Paterson Silk Strike sparked the idea for my first novel, FIERY FIELDS. Papa was among the more than 24,000 striking workers who had assembled upon the fields at the foot of the Botto family’s house in Haledon, NJ. They had assembled in Haledon, a town adjoining Paterson’s, after having been chased out of Paterson by the police. Three hundred silk mills and all the dye shops went on strike for seven long months. Among the speakers at the Botto house were: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Big Bill Hayward, Carlo Tresca, Upton Sinclair, and John Reed. While the conditions in the garment factories, silk mills, and dye shops were grueling, the conditions at the West Virginia and Colorado coal mines were worse, (i.e. the 1913 Ludlow, Colorado Massacre). Yet, Italian Americans were reluctant to talk about it.

Q: How long did it take you to write and get Fiery Fields published?
A:
As a result of the Italians’ reluctance to speak about their experiences, it took me ten years to research and write FIERY FIELDS. My research took me to: Paterson and Haledon, New Jersey; Ellis Island, Manhattan, and Staten Island, New York; and to Montaguto, Italy, a small town in southern Italy. When I was researching FIERY FIELDS, these sources were not available on the Internet. That was just the beginning.

After I received an encouraging letter from an agent who said, “How exciting! Send me the MS,” the agent then followed that transmittal with, “It’s too long (180,000 words), cut it to 100,000.” I did. She then said, “Cut it to 80,000.” The best I could do was to cut FIERY FIELDS to 90,000 words, but she then said that she was no longer interested in it. That process took about one year.

Next, I sent FIERY FIELDS to an electronic publisher who had me under contract, but I had to wait for a year to have it published. Just before publication, the publisher went out of business. I almost gave up then, but happily, I signed a contract with Awe-Struck Publications. Here, too, I had to wait for publication, this time for two years.

Q: What type of books do you write?
A:
I write as the mood strikes me. My first novel, FIERY FIELDS, is a Historical Romance. My second novel, (soon to be released by Awe-Struck) THE GIFT, is a Contemporary Humorous Novel. I have just completed ALPHA-TWISTERS. ALPHA-TWISTERS is an anthology of twenty-six sticky tricky tall tale tongue twisters that is a parody of several types of writing, i.e.: Mystery, Knights Tales, Western, Regency, Gothic, Fairytales, and so forth. ALPHA-TWISTERS is a wonderful read for young adults, parents or grandparents who love to read to the young, adults who have English as a second language, or anyone who gets a kick reading humorous tongue twister parodies.

Q: Do you use real people in your books?
A:
No. They are a compilation of people that I have met in real life or in my imagination.

Q: How much of your experiences do you put in your books?
A:
I do prefer writing about something with which I am familiar, but the transmutations are not literal.

Q: What is your favorite type of heroine/hero?
A:
One who is flawed but grows with her or his experiences and stands up to the tasks I place before them.

Q: Do you ever have writer's block?
A:
Yes. Strange that you should ask that one at this moment, for I am in the midst of writing three novels at once. It’s not my preferred method, but the three of them are pulling me equally, consequently I am not progressing.

Q: Do you write alone, or do you consult?
A:
I miss being a member of a writers’ group. Several years ago, I had been a member of a writers group that disbanded. Fortunately, I have just been invited to be a member of another group. My husband, Lou, gets the first read, and then I have two other people whom I also trust to get their reactions.

Q: What awards have you received for your writing?
A:
Since publication of FIERY FIELDS, UNICO the National West Essex Chapter presented me with a certificate of appreciation that reads: “In Recognition of Your Service to the Literary and Cultural Achievement for Our Heritage.” UNICO is the largest Italian American service organization in America. The members strongly believe in “Service Above Self.”