Today I'm thrilled to host an interview with author Jo Linsdell, not only because we've been collaborating for a while (remember the August bookish blog hops and the Christmas one?) but also because she's a Brit living in Italy and I'm an Italian living in the UK.
For how long have you been living in Italy, Jo?
I came here for 3 days back in June 2001, and I'm still here ;) Crazy to think it's been that long.
Wow. And since you moved to Italy, have you always lived in Rome?
No. Although we've mainly lived in the capital, we also spent some time living in Tivoli. It's a small town near Rome and definitely worth a day trip for those coming here on holiday. It's home to some beautiful villas and waterfalls.
I had the chance to visit Tivoli in my youth and I agree, it's well worth a day trip. How do you like living in Rome?
I've moved around a lot over the years and Rome is the place I feel most at home. As a city it's changed a lot since I've been here, and not all in a good way, but there's still so much to love about living here. There's so much to see and do too. I love history and art, and both are in abundance here.
Agreed. Rome is the perfect city for art and history lovers! I went several times and look forward to taking my daughter there. However, you must miss the UK. Can you tell us what you miss the most?
Mostly little things, like proper bacon. Italian bacon is different from the big cut we have in the UK. It's just not the same. Another thing I miss are the houses. Since moving to Rome I've lived in apartments. I miss having a house with a garden. I'd have to move out of the centre to have something like that here though.
I think the thing I miss most though is hearing my own language. When I go to the UK to visit I like that everyone is speaking English. I know that sounds odd. I'm bilingual and have no trouble speaking and understanding Italian now, but I miss hearing my own language. It's nice to go for a walk and just absorb the Englishness.
And I miss the Italianess. So, did you get married in Italy?
Yes. Here in Rome.
What inspired you to write A Guide to Weddings in Italy?
I'm married to an Italian, and thought others might benefit from the research I had to do to get married here. As with anything bureaucratic, working out what documents were needed, where we needed to go, and when, was a long process. Having gone through it all I figured others might find the information useful.
Was it easy for you to learn Italian? Is it why you decided to write Italian for Tourists?
When I first came to Italy I only planned on staying for 3 days and so didn't study the language beforehand. I learnt Italian by living here. It was hard in the beginning but I think the hardest part was getting out of my own way. I was afraid of making mistakes. Self doubt plays a big role in slowing down progress. Once I just threw myself into it and allowed myself to get things wrong it was actually much easier.
A lot of people told me I should write Italian for Tourists. I used to work with tourists and it would often come up in conversation. I used my own experience and the things that tourists wanted to know how to say to create a language guide specifically for them. One of most common comments about other phrasebooks was that there was too much information in them that wasn't relevant for tourists. Stuff like how to buy a house. Tourists don't need to know that, and it just gets in the way of finding the information they do need. Italian for Tourists is a bare bones phrasebook created specifically with tourists in mind.
Do you speak English to your children?
Yes. They both speak Italian and English.
They're very lucky. Changing subject: where is your current favourite place to write, and if you could pick any place in the world where would be your ideal place to write?
I have an office area in the corner of my bedroom with a desk, but rarely use it. I prefer to be comfy in my recliner armchair in the lounge. I don't really have an ideal place as such, but I find I can't concentrate if I'm out and about so would need to be at home, with some peace and quiet.
Your CV is impressive: you’ve written fiction and non-fiction books, you run your own website, you are the founder and CEO of Writers and Authors and Promo Day, have won several awards in your career, were named the Who's Who in the writing industry in 2009, and you are an illustrator too. If you had to pick the thing that you like to do the most that is writing related, what would you pick and why?
Now that is a hard question. It's like picking which of my kids I love the most. Impossible. I enjoy all aspects of my work. As long as I'm being creative I'm happy.
What are you currently working on?
I have several projects in the works at the moment. My new book 365 Days of Quotes for Writers is due for release on 17th January 2018 and so I'm busy with tasks related to the launch.
I'm also finishing writing the KOSMOS series and getting the last episodes ready for publication over the coming months, and working on edits for my novel Do You LIKE Me?
Is there a question you would have liked to answer but was never asked in an interview?
I've answered all sorts of questions over the years. Nothing springs to mind. Obviously the question I like most is "Where can we buy your work?" As I do a lot of different work the easiest answer to that one is my website, www.JoLinsdell.com. It has information and links for all my projects.
Thank you Jo, and best of luck in all your endeavours.
The past Christmas holiday was the best one I had in years. What did I do? I spent it with the most important person in my life, my 12-year-old daughter Sofia, playing games, watching TV, talking and doing a spot of shopping. “Is that all?” I hear you asking. Yes, it is. And I loved every minute of it. For the first time in many years she has kept her room clean and tidy and she’s behaved in a loving and caring way. Not that she’s never done that before, however those calm and enjoyable moments lasted for two days at the most. With her permission, I'll share our story.
I have worked on our relationship for many years. The main problem was her room. I expected her to be responsible for it, and I would only supervise it. I hoped to make her more independent and teach her valuable skills, e.g. organisation, respect of deadlines, and health and safety. Nothing worked. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing. Nor the stick, the carrot or the sandwich method – allow her to do something she likes, and tell her to do her bedroom with the promise she could have more fun afterward. Nor working on myself with meditation, Theta Healing techniques and so on.
Her room was a war zone. Sometimes it was impossible to walk through it as the floor was covered with anything you can imagine. And in the past year she fiercely opposed my offer to help her clean it up. Well, enough was enough so a few months ago I stationed myself in her room and in a few days we got rid of everything she didn’t need anymore-mainly clothes, toys, and books.
We were so happy! Keeping the bedroom tidy would be so easy now, we thought. It wasn’t. Soon it went back to being messy, although not at the desperate level it had reached before.
The problem wasn’t just that it wasn’t clean and tidy, it was that it was a barrier between us. We didn’t spend time together because she had to clean her bedroom. She would spend days instead of a few hours a week because she would be side-tracked. Playing with her toys, reading books, using her tablet (only one hour a day) were the usual reasons why she wouldn’t finish her chore and have time to spend with me. Cleaning her bedroom was a never-ending task.
Moreover, once finished, she would be proud of her achievement. Nevertheless, she would plunge her bedroom in an awful mess again in the following hours.
Out of desperation, I convinced her to see a Child Well-being Consultant. Probably because she was already too old for this approach, the sessions didn’t help much.
Just before Christmas, the breakthrough.
On 20th December I had a massage with a new therapist, Ben Barnett from Holistic Therapies. During the massage, which I had while lying on a waterbed full of warm water (heaven!), he guided me through a visualisation aimed at improving my relationships in general and specifically with Sofia.
He understood the messages my body was sending me in the form of pain and stiff muscles, explained them to me and with the visualisation he helped me change the energy pattern of my relationships.
The result came quickly. No arguments with Sofia for the past two weeks, we guffawed many times especially when playing charades, and her bedroom is still pretty tidy. She’s even decided that she wants to eat in a more healthy way and she’s really impressed me.
What a wonderful way to finish 2017 and start 2018. And now I am very hopeful that my other troubled relationships and some other aspects of my life I'm working on with Ben will heal too.
May the New Year bring solutions to us all!