Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Interview with Stella Mazzucchelli, Author of Silk Flowers Never Die
Stella Metaxa Mazzucchelli was born in Athens, Greece and married, aged eighteen, Riccardo Mazzucchelli, the famous Italian businessman. During their twenty two year marriage, they lived in Zambia and London, where she became a well-known figure on the social scene, and had a brief and successful modelling career at the unusual age of 28. Fedele is their only child. After their divorce, Riccardo married Ivana Trump in 1995, though the marriage was short lived. Stella now lives in Athens where she brings up her grand-daughter Katerina. As well as being involved in the property and renovation business, which ensures she maintains connections with London, she is also a tireless campaigner for the better understanding of schizophrenia and mental illness. Silk Flowers Never Die is her first book.
You can find Stella online at www.dynastypress.co.uk and at her blog www.dynastypress.co.uk/news.html .
Welcome to The Writer's Life, Stella. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
My father was Greek and my mother South African. I married Riccardo Mazzucchelli whom I met when I was sixteen. I eloped to marry him in Zambia when I was eighteen. I gave birth to my son Fedele the same year. My marriage lasted for twenty two years but as most teenage romances, we grew apart and I left him. During those roller-coaster years of love and sadness I began to rely heavily on alcohol. Riccardo went on to marry Ivana Trump which more or less coincided with my son's diagnoses of schizophrenia. Unfortunately I had not yet gathered enough strength within myself to confront his illness, therefore I can honestly state that that period of my life was the most terrifying.
Silk Flowers Never Die is my first book and it took me five years to write.
Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
I always felt the need to share the devastation I confronted when my son was diagnosed with schizophrenia, but unfortunately alcohol dependency got in the way. It was only when I put aside the bottle and cleared the fog dampening my senses that I could actually get around to putting pen to paper and release my emotions. Apart from the pain of witnessing my child turn from a happy well balanced individual into a scared and tormented soul, the stigma of having such an antisocial and fear-provoking illness caused us to shun the community as we battled on in silence. It was indeed a very lonely existence. My aim is to campaign against that stigma and consequently alleviate some of the unjustified shame.
The first half of my book deals with my son's schizophrenia and the second is dedicated to the birth of his daughter and death of his wife who succumbed to terminal cancer. I have tried to be as upbeat as possible doing my best not to plunge my reader into despair. I think that I have achieved my goal.I compare each day in our life to a page in a book which has to be turned, as it could be hiding something good and exciting. If we don't turn it or are to scared to, we will never know....
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?
My biggest challenges were to keep a fast moving pace that flowed, keep my reader keen while not depressing him too much, as there are many people out there who do not want to dwell too long on sorrow and torment. In other words, I had to find ways of provoking a smile or two before bringing them back to the tragedy I was recounting. Not an easy task I can assure you when you are dealing with two of the most devastating illnesses, schizophrenia and cancer.
Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?
Yes, I do. It includes a letter to potential reviewers, publicity information about Silk Flowers Never Die, the back cover blurb, reviews, and my author's biography.
Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?
Not as yet. I certainly hope that I will in the future. The only thing certain at the moment is that,together with SANE we are hoping to organize a charity event which will take place in London in November and I will be making a speech then, even though I find the thought terrifying. My only encouragement is that I tend to come alive when I discuss issues relating to mental diseases and the 'stigma' therefore I hope I will not embarrass my cause.
Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?
I suppose I was lucky that I did not need an agent. I had connections in the publishing business, they liked my book and went on to publish it.
Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?
Not yet, but it might happen.
Do you plan subsequent books?
I found it difficult to adapt to the void I felt during my writing hours which were from 7am to 11am. Finishing Silk Flowers was as though I had just given birth, yet had no baby to hold. My fingers were itching to type, but I felt too emotionally drained to start another book dealing with such deep emotions. As I was pacing the floor I caught Ceaser, my seven year old Poodle, eying me with curiosity and decided to start a fluffy, humorous recount of his life.
Thank you for your interview, Stella. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?
Although things have moved at a rapid pace, I do not have a site yet. It will happen very soon, but in the mean time I can be found on Amazon and www.dynastypress.oc.uk. Shops in the U.K. that stock my book are Waterstones and Hatchards. My book will be released in the U.S.A. on the 20th. Oct. 009.