Interview with Robert James Connors

What's the story behind your latest book?
Romancing Through Italy almost wrote itself, because everything in it is true. The events were so memorable and varied, that it was like a throw-back to my reporter days. "Just the facts, Ma'am." We spent years, in total, visited hundreds of places, from little hamlets to big cities, castles, churches, and farms. We met hundreds of people, and had dinners in dozens of private homes, getting to know their families, how they cooked, the things they talked about and the lifestyles they enjoyed. Italy was absorbing. All I had to do was recall the details. Photos helped. Getting stopped by the military police, of course, we couldn't take photos then, but most of the places we went, we still have photos of. Those of the memorial services with the veterans, now almost all gone, are the ones I treasure the most.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small central Florida town, and because there wasn't a lot of entertainment available, I began reading at a very young age, and devoured books by the hundreds. I would read perhaps fifty over the course of a summer, and another hundred or so on top of my school work. I would read everything in an entire genre at my school library, and then go on to a new interest. Animal stories, science fiction, eventually and history books and stories of the sailing ships and explorations. I guess because I read so much, it seemed natural to write, and I ended up on the school paper, and then was hired as a news reporter for a daily. I made $60 a week to start. I was 18 when my editor told me that a story I wrote was the best human-interest feature he had ever seen in a newspaper. He inspired me to keep after it.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The realities of the publishing industry today are so different than those of ten or twenty years ago. Given the volume of writing being generated, and the relatively small number of agents and major publishing houses, it's almost like putting the camel through the eye of the needle. I knew there had to be a better way to find an audience than chasing after agents, and then hoping they could chase down a publisher. Happily, I also began working with Plumeria Publishing, and they have helped me maximize my work, and get it to market for bookstores and libraries.
Who are your favorite authors?
I enjoy books from hundreds, and it's difficult to name only a few, but everyone from Goethe to Poul Anderson, Michener to Frances Mayes. I enjoyed Kerouac, and Heinlein, and Hemingway. I read different kinds of books at different times in my life, and there were only a few that disappointed me. My bookshelves are burgeoning with great authors.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The rewards are many, but the best is being able to share a deeper perspective, to open reader's minds to new possibilities, and offer insights that they would not otherwise encounter. Italy, for example, is a desired destination. Millions go, and millions more just dream about it. Yet many of those who visit are swept through on brief whirlwind tours, and never have the opportunity that we had to really immerse ourselves in the culture, and come to know the people, and what makes the nation tick. I am really happy that this project gave me the chance to share the things we learned, and hopefully help others get more from their real or virtual visits.
How do you approach cover design?
That is one challenge that I leave to the professionals. I have been blessed to be able to work with Curchy Design, a local firm near my home, and get really good results. My wife has been a major contributor in that regard, working with the artist to get a really stand-out cover. She's very talented as well, and deserves credit.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I enjoy traveling, and do it both for research and enjoyment. I have accelerated my pace in the last three to four years, and have been committing to months at a time, both in Europe and the US. I've done two long western trips recently, and will soon do a cross-country trip that will include several book-signings. I am very social, and like to meet new people and hear their stories. Many times I find inspiration in the people and things I encounter. Then I find another writing project on my already-full plate!
What are you working on next?
My next project is pretty ambitious, a historical novel that covers the entire human history of Florida. It has required an immense amount of research, and I actually began writing the first draft chapters 20 years ago. It's a big story that deserves to be told, and Michener never got a chance to write it, unfortunately. Too much of history is hidden in dry text-books. My goal is to bring it to life with enjoyable characters and weave the threads of multiple families together. Native Americans, Spanish, French, English, Greeks, Africans, Cubans, Madeirans, they each contributed to the culture, and they each have stories to share. I expect to have it done sometime next year, and I hope it will be well-received. My experience with Romancing Through Italy and Plumeria Publishing has me very encouraged.
Published 2017-07-20.
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Books by This Author

Romancing Through Italy
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 94,810. Language: English. Published: July 19, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » By region, Nonfiction » Travel » Specialties & interests
Readers will delight sharing a journey of discovery that reveals not just the places, but the people and mysteries of an ancient land.The world's most desired destination, Italy provides a colorful and scenic background to adventures and misadventures. Emperors and cave-dwellers, elderly goat-herds and ghost towns come to life in visits to the hidden corners of the cradle of modern civilization.