Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I am the daughter of Italian immigrants and grew up in Northern West Virginia with a love of reading and a passion for learning. Following a career path that included being a teacher, journalist, and marketer, I have lived as far away from home as Italy where I had ample opportunity to practice my family’s native tongue as well as opportunity to take advantage of living near other European countries and travel extensively. My life-long joy in writing has culminated in novels that focus on young Catholic women in a positive light. Readers of all backgrounds have fallen in love with my characters who come from close-knit Catholic families who live their faith.
I currently have five published novels:
*Love on the Back Burner: A Tasty Romantic Comedy
*Love on the Lido Deck: A Nautical Romantic Comedy (Adapted as movie “Love at Sea”, available on Amazon Prime, Apple+ TV, and VuDu TV)
*Passports and Plum Blossoms: An International Romantic Comedy (Also in Audiobook)
*Game On: A Romantic Comedy that Scores
*Peak to Peak: A Romantic Comedy with Altitude
I am also a professional book critic, freelance editor, and a mentor to blossoming writers. In addition I share my writing and communications skills by preparing resumes and cover letters for job seekers, and I also coach them to optimize job interviews.
A rabid Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I live with my husband, an equally committed New York Giants fan, outside Orlando, where dinner is usually from one of my mother’s treasured recipes. When I’m not volunteering my time at my church, I can usually be found with my nose in a book, or shouting answers while watching Jeopardy.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Peak to Peak: A Romantic Comedy that Scores
Living (at the time) in Colorado, I was acquainted with a large number of skiers. In addition, my husband and I had taken a lovely trip through through the lovely Catalonian area of Andorra. I wondered what would happen if a greedy industrial conglomerate would attempt to take over a beloved area near a ski resort –specifically one that was a convent boarding school. Out of the simmering stew of all of those ideas, this scenario was born:
Romie Costas lost her parents when she was a baby and was raised in an exclusive convent boarding school high above a charming ski village of Andorra in Colorado. She now runs a quirky gift shop in the town, and her life is uncomplicated until a global conglomerate who claims the mountain threatens to close down the school and evict the nuns that run it.
It’s up to Romie to determine a way to protect her childhood home, and she recruits a sophisticated alum who is a high-powered attorney, an elderly British globe-trotting couple, and even her vivacious childhood best friend in her quest. Along the way she meets Crosby McArthur, a charmer with striking jade eyes and a mysterious reason for popping up in the village.
Can Romie and her crew send the corporation back down the slopes? And what will it take for Crosby to secure a lifetime pass to Romie’s heart?
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
My Catholic faith informs everything in my life. I spend every morning in prayer, and I feel that if I don’t devote part of my morning reading “the” Book, then I won’t be prepared to write my book. That may seem unusual to some, but it is embedded in my DNA.
On a lighter note, I also have to admit…I speak my dialog out loud while I’m writing to see if it flows properly. This either can be very amusing or annoying to anyone within earshot.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Anyone who would try to pigeonhole me by my bookshelves would be sadly mistaken. I am just as likely to read a book on the history of waste disposal as a fluffy chick lit novel. It all depends on my mood. I read a lot of books on the Catholic faith, the classics, history, biographies, bestsellers, current events, sociology, YA …you name it and I will read it, with the exception of pornography and anything that is gruesome or degrading. Since I must quantify, I will, and I’ll name my all-time top five books:
1) “Heidi”, because it is the first full-length book I ever read.
2) “Summa Theologae”, because St. Thomas Aquinas is equal to none.
3) “Sense and Sensibility”, because Jane Austen defined what a romantic novel should be.
4) The Starbridge and St. Benet series. I realize that’s cheating because it’s nine books but to appreciate the beauty and art that Susan Howatch brings, one needs to read the entire series.
5) “Almost Paradise”, because Susan Isaacs proves that a “woman’s” book can be funny and smart.
What are you working on now?
I have two non-fiction projects that I am researching — I am a researcher who doesn’t write and publish anything until I’m ready, but it’s an active process, not one of procrastination.
In addition, I work on the other area of my communications/writing endeavors where I create resume packages for job seekers and coach them to optimize their interview situations.
Oh…and I am also a professional book critic.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
My official website is www.scolapastapress.com and I have a mailing list (that anyone can join by sending a request to “firstname.lastname@example.org”. In addition, I invite folks to follow me at facebook.com/AuthorBarbaraOliverio
I am an outgoing kind of gal, and do book events at libraries and book stores, and visiting book clubs who have read my books is always fun.
If I am asked, I willing to contribute to blogs and other such sites.
Oh…my favorite things to do — because my motto is “Always Be Marketing” — are to a) always carry my bookmarks with me and offer one to someone who is reading a paper book, and b) for my husband and I to wear specific T-shirts and when people ask about them, we talk about my writing. His says “Only Real Men Marry Authors” and mine say “Careful or You May End Up in My Novel” and “I Write Fiction. What’s Your Superpower?” (We don’t wear them at the same time; that would be overkill.)
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Read read read. Read books by authors you admire and love. Read books that you feel are not particularly good so that you know what not to do. Don’t be afraid of the “p” word (plagiarism), because if you are ethical and don’t copy word for word and page for page, any story you tell will be original because it’s important to remember that every story has already been told hundreds of times — just not by you. Absorb the universal essence of “how” and apply it to your own “what”, “where”, “who”, and “when”. Read magazines, newspapers, the Web — read everything! The best way you can create is to study the craft. The other thing that helps me as a writer of contemporary fiction is to listen to dialog around me and jot down turns of phrase that are particularly good, or to jot down words that are particularly mellifluous or paint great word pictures.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
1. Read, Read, Read
2. “Sooner or later, somebody’s gonna tell you your baby is ugly.” In other words, don’t expect that every review will be a 5-star rave
3.”Unless you’re waiting for God to hand you words on tablets of stone, just write (you ain’t Moses).” ~Kurt Bobna, author
What are you reading now?
*The Twelve Chairs by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov
*The ‘One Thing is Three’ by Fr. Michael Gaitley
After that, queued up is
*They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-1945 by Milton Mayer
What’s next for you as a writer?
I probably will produce more fiction in my chosen lane of clean comedy with a romantic twist, but right now I want to pursue the two ideas I have in non-fiction.
My husband, who is my biggest fan, and who was the main catalyst and support for my leap of faith to abandon my stable marketing career for a full-time leap of faith into full-time writing world, thinks I should investigate screenwriting. He was right about that original leap of faith, and he was right about the fact that one of my books would become a move, so I think I should trust his instincts!
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
I’d have to take the Bible as that is a source of strength for me.
Jane Austen is a great inspiration, so a one-volume collection of her works would go a long way to keeping me entertained.
Since I routinely go back to read Anna Karenina, I think that indicates that I would probably not get tired of it.
For sheer pleasure of the guilty sort, I think some sort of compendium of the works of a laugh-out-loud Chick Lit gal would be necessary. Maybe Jane Heller?
I realize that I cheated by including two compilations, but there wasn’t anything in the rules that said I couldn’t, was there?