Friday, September 22, 2017

Interview with Eileen Colucci, SHE'S LIKE A RAINBOW


Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?SHE’S LIKE A RAINBOW stands alone. It is not part of a series. I think the Blurb provides a good overview:

“The summer I turned ten, my life took a fairy tale turn.”

So begins Reema Ben Ghazi’s tale set in Morocco. Reema awakes one morning to find her skin has changed from whipped cream to dark chocolate. From then on, every few years she undergoes another metamorphosis, her color changing successively to red, yellow and ultimately brown. What is the cause of this strange condition and is there a cure? Does the legend of the White Buffalo have anything to do with it?  As Reema struggles to find answers to these questions, she confronts the reactions of the people around her, including her strict and unsympathetic mother, Lalla Jamila; her timid younger sister, Zakia; and her two best friends, Batoul and Khalil. At the same time, she must deal with the trials of adolescence even as her friendship with Khalil turns to first love. One day, in her search for answers, Reema discovers a shocking secret – she may have been adopted at birth. As a result, Reema embarks on a quest to find her birth mother that takes her from twentieth-century Rabat to post-9/11 New York.

Reema’s humanity shines through her story, reminding us of all we have in common regardless of our particular cultural heritage. SHE’S LIKE A RAINBOW, which will appeal to teens as well as adults, raises intriguing questions about identity and ethnicity.

Do you have a favorite character?
I think my favorite character is elderly Lalla Mumtaz. She is the quintessential Moroccan grandma and a consummate storyteller. I drew on my own experiences in creating her but I also had to do some research because she comes from the deep south of the country. I got to explore different aspects of Moroccan culture in more depth. That was a lot of fun.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
My husband, who is an architect, designed my cover. Because he uses CAD and other graphic design programs all the time at work, he was able to provide a professional product. I was very involved in the creative process. He began with a sketch of Reema, the main character of the novel, partly inspired by photos and paintings of young Moroccan girls. We chose the image together. He would draw and make proposals and I would tweak them to my liking. Reema appears on the finished cover as a “blank canvas,” a white silhouette against a background of rainbow colors. The colors symbolize her many transformations.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I like to write in the afternoon after lunch. I work in my “office” which is one of my son’s former bedrooms. I need silence when I’m writing. I always have. I think this comes from years of working as a translator where I had my own office with limited distractions. When I sit down to write, I go over what I’ve written at my previous session and edit that. Then I pick up the narrative and continue.

On my desk I have a tiny empty picture frame. This comes from Anne Lamott in BIRD BY BIRD. At each session I try to write just one scene at a time; one picture. I try to fill that frame and nothing more. This keeps me from feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of writing a novel, which frankly can be very intimidating. Maybe that is why it takes me a long time to finish a book. But that is okay. As long as I am happy with the end result, it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I don’t outline my books per se. That is I don’t create written outlines. But I do create outlines in my head. I usually know the general direction I want the book to go in, have the ending in mind, but there may be some unexpected detours that the characters take me on along the way.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I did not hire an editor but I had several people edit my manuscript for me. I belong to a Book Group with nine other readers. I printed out the manuscript when I was on my second or third draft and asked the group to critique it. A month later, we all got together to discuss it and they shared their thoughts with me. One had even gone through and marked up the manuscript with her comments/suggestions. I got such fantastic feedback. I actually went back and edited the entire book afterwards, taking into consideration the group’s advice. There was one notable exception. Two of the members wanted an alternate ending. After writing it, I ran it by them and they both loved it. Other members however said they thought my original ending was fine and urged me to stick with it; which is what I ultimately did. After that I gave the manuscript to one other writer-friend. She suggested only a few very minor corrections which I made. From readers’ comments it appears the book is well edited.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I am on my second virtual book tour with SHE’S LIKE A RAINBOW. I hope that readers will enjoy following the current tour.

I also promote my book on my Goodreads blog and my website. Since I live in Morocco, I’ve been doing a lot of marketing here at the Casablanca Book Fair, the U.S. Embassy’s Dar America and most recently participating in a Creative Writing Camp in Casablanca.
In addition, several libraries in New York and Virginia have accepted the books I donated and placed them on their shelves. While I’m not selling those books, I am hopefully increasing my readership which is essentially the goal of any writer.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Marketing does take up a lot of time. It is rewarding though when it involves interacting with readers. That is the most fun aspect, I think. I love getting feedback from readers.
It would be easy to blame time spent on marketing for my not starting on my next book but I don’t think that is the problem. At least not the main one. I am really waiting for inspiration, searching for my muse. That can take an incredible amount of time. And a tiny bit of luck.

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
I really enjoy practicing yoga. I’ve been doing it since 2010. While I was working it was a great stress-reliever. Now that I’m retired, my life is thankfully mostly stress-free but I still practice twice a week. I like to “be the tree.”
My other passion, if you consider it that, is spending time with my dog, Phoebo. He loves to play, especially Frisbee, but he’ll also come and sit by my side with his head in my lap while I’m reading. Oh yes, of course, my other passion is reading. If I’m not writing, you can usually find me with my nose in a book.

What’s next for you?
I am hoping to start working soon on my third novel, but I am waiting for inspiration. In the meantime, I am working on a piece about having my dear father’s vintage Gibson guitar restored more than forty years after he died.

Thanks so much for hosting me!
I love interacting with readers and invite everyone to contact me through my website or through my Goodreads blog. I hope you enjoy SHE’S LIKE A RAINBOW and look forward to hearing your thoughts!


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A native New Yorker, Eileen Colucci has been living in Rabat with her Moroccan husband for the past thirty-plus years. She is a former teacher and recently retired after twenty-eight years as a translator with the U.S. Embassy, Rabat. Her articles and short stories have appeared in various publications and ezines including Fodor's Morocco, Parents' Press, The New Dominion and Expat Women. SHE'S LIKE A RAINBOW, which was recently published, is her second novel.

Colucci holds a BA in French and English from the University at Albany and an MA in Education from Framingham State University.

When not writing, Colucci enjoys practicing yoga, taking long walks and playing with her chocolate Labrador Retriever, Phoebo. Now that she and her husband have four grandchildren, they spend as much time as possible in Virginia with their two sons and their families.



Buy links:





MISSION STATEMENT:

It is my hope that SHE’S LIKE A RAINBOW will promote peace and understanding among people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. My aim is to stimulate discussion on everything we have in common as human beings regardless of our particular heritage. We are all connected.






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