Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Author Interview with Gayle Ridinger: Part I

Gayle Ridinger and Paolo Pochettino
Today I'm delighted to introduce you to Gayle Ridinger. She's the co-author of a new book that combines a treasure hunt with historical and contemporary storylines. Be sure to join us both days because she is giving away a copy of her new book THE SECRET PRICE OF HISTORY

Welcome to PASTimes! Thanks for joining us and sharing a bit about your writing world. Tell us about your latest book.

THE SECRET PRICE OF HISTORY is a cross between a modern crime story and a historical saga…or better, a 600-page gallop—sometimes entertaining and sometimes sobering—through the second half of the 1800s during the Italian Risorgimento and American Civil War, alternating with the breaking economic crisis of the summer of 2008. A gold medallion connected with an ancient treasure is the link between Angie in the present and her ancestor Eleonora in the past.

Tell us about your books. What drew you to write them?

Although this is Paolo’s first book, I have written others. Looking back, I’d say each was somehow linked to the life phase I was in at the time. My children’s book, A STAR AT THE  BOTTOM OF THE SEA, came from a lovely thought expressed by my daughter, then age 6, at the seaside. My novel THE SHADOW WIFE came out of a fascination with what a colleague of mine told me about her twin daughters coming of age, combined with the sense that we all have twin selves really—one stronger, more focused, and even more calculating than the other. And yet that’s the part which takes over from our dreaming other half and ‘gets things done’. As regards THE SECRET PRICE OF HISTORY, Paolo as a boy was so impressed by the true-life account of one of Garibaldi’s volunteer soldiers in the Italian struggle for unification that he began to harbor a deep wish to write an ‘almost-true’ novel that could match it in excitement. His enthusiasm was very contagious.

How did you get the idea for The Secret Price of History?

When Paolo approached me with the idea of the book, he already had in mind a young Italian-American protagonist (in the modern sub-plot) who finds herself in danger and courageously tries to get to the bottom of it. My contribution was to imagine that she had been shot in the arm during a re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. My father’s family is from there, and I’d attended some as a child; my uncle had told me about a real-life incident of this sort involving a visiting Frenchman, and it had impressed me. As we proceeded with our story line, we did all that we could to make our treasure mystery different; during our five, highly enjoyable years of research, we found evidence to suggest a historically plausible legend for the treasure—which touches on the pagan religion of Mithraism, the Parsi trade routes from India to Europe, and the earliest proto-bankers in the West (specifically in Italy). As for the treasure itself, Paolo had seen displays of smaller hoards on his travels to India. Also, regarding our evil modern characters, he had heard about unspeakable facts and happenings in Africa. With the invention of the ending, then, the book took form.

What was the greatest challenge in writing this book?

Certainly, one challenge was how to keep up the book’s rhythm, alternating the two plots in a way that would keep readers hooked. Then there were all the re-writes to render in human, 3-D terms the historical figures who had become characters in our book. Keeping dates and places straight over a 50-year spread was also hard. And then there were those battle scenes to write—a first for me.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the rest of the interview.

To be entered in the drawing for her book, be sure to answer the question in the rafflecopter below and click the button.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Gayle Ridinger is an American with family ties both to Italy and to the Civil War town of Gettysburg. After graduating in English from Oberlin College, she worked as a reporter in the Cleveland area before moving to Milan, Italy in 1981. She presently teaches English and translation techniques at an Italian university. She translated and co-edited  the bilingual anthology, ITALIAN POETRY 1950-1990 (Branden/Dante University Press, Boston, 1996), and her translation of SHAVINGS, prose poems by Camillo Sbarbaro, was published by Chelsea Editions, New York, in 2006. She received the “National Translation Prize” from the Italian Ministry of Culture in 1997, and was named Knight of the Star Order of Italian Solidarity by Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 2003. 
Her children’s book, A STAR AT THE  BOTTOM OF THE SEA, has been published in five languages, including in the U.S. by Gareth Stevens. Her novel, THE SHADOW WIFE, the story of a strong-willed woman who substitutes her weak-willed twin sister struggling to get her life back on track, is available on Amazon.
             Her latest book, THE SECRET PRICE OF HISTORY, was co-authored with her husband Paolo Pochettino, a native of Milan, Italy, who for  years worked as an industrial manager in numerous countries. A long-time distance runner (with 8 marathons to his credit) as well as Himalayan mountain hiker and extensive world traveller, he has survived a plane hijacking and   revolts in Sudan and Yemen. Of Piedmontese background, he has always had a deep interest in the Italian Risorgimento and the bloody battles of his region.