Interview with Lucille Bellucci

Published 2016-07-02.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My cat! Cat guardians will understand this perfectly. She is relentless, and her final weapon is her 18 pounds on my chest.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was "Golden Eagle," about a boy coming upon said eagle whose leg was caught in a net. They stare at each other, the boy forgetting his anger at being rebuked at home, the eagle wary of this new danger. The story was published in California's Northcoast Review. When I returned to Rio de Janeiro for a visit and dropped in at the American School of Rio de Janeiro to say hello to Gil Brown, the headmaster, I found he had a copy of the review on his coffee table. I was so touched. Of course, I had told only 30 people about being published!
What is your writing process?
A germ of a thought takes root in my mind and if it is a live one, will grow and take shape. It helps to know how it ends, for the narrative will know where to go.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't recall any children's stories, but then I lived in Shanghai through two wars and a revolution and I never saw a Young Adult book. I do remember, at about age 12, my first adult book, which happened to be "Lady Chatterly's Lover." It made a deep impression on me -- not the sex, which was incomprehensible -- but the woman's loneliness. The line "Her neck was yellowed from lack of love" lives on in memory. Or perhaps it was her pearl necklace that lacked luster. One or the other. Where did I get my hands on that novel? From a lending library operated by a Russian refugee.
How do you approach cover design?
From family albums. For The Snake Woman of Ipanema I found an artist who lived nearby. His process was fascinating to watch. He worked on a trackball and painted the Mae-de-Santo (voodoo priestess) in vivid colors on the computer screen. I had him sign a release for the work for my cover, then later learned that he was selling it at trade fairs. I didn't mind. I only wished he had left on the title and my name.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I think Irwin Shaw's books are my very favorites. He speaks of hard beginnings and lives in sometimes the most ordinary but telling terms. His people are real, without artifice, and make you care. I am pretty sure I learned about writing mostly from him.
What do you read for pleasure?
Books by Michael Connelly and Stephen Hunter. I notice that I like their strong yet sometime humanly faulty protagonists. I must have a superhero complex, but then so do millions of their fans. I reread James Thurber and H. Allen Smith. H. Allen makes me laugh hysterically.
Describe your desk
It is covered by a thousand or so slips of paper. None is regular note paper, even though I own a stack of pads from the various humane societies I send money to. I just cannot bear to use good notepaper for my scribbles. Why spoil nice paper when there are the backs of envelopes and the reverse side of discarded manuscripts? There is also a little boy doll, 20 sheets or so bearing user IDs and passwords, a jelly jar of ice water, six bulging file folders, a printer, a little radio, a box of Cheerios….enough already.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Shanghai. My father was Italian-Dutch-Indonesian, my mother Chinese with bound feet. I mentioned before that it was a time of wars and revolution. My older siblings grew up before all that in the Good Old Days but all I remember was turmoil and uncertainty. We lived under the Communist regime for three years before attempting to leave, and then when we applied for exit visas, they decided to haul me in on charges of spying. For the United States! I was 18 years old and hadn't even dated a boy. Did it all influence my writing? What do you think?
When did you first start writing?
While living in Brazil I tried, on a portable Olivetti typewriter. It was something about a woman working on a factory assembly line. But I gave it up for lack of reference sources. The only English-language library was the Instituto Brasil Estados Unidos, a collection of random novels, which didn't help at all. Back in the U.S. in 1980 my husband Renato bought me the full complement of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which now, I am sorry to say, is being neglected because there is the Almighty Internet. Still, my well-worn Synonym Finder continues to be useful.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I was approaching 67, had collected a number of rejections, and decided that if I were ever to hold my book in my living hand I had to go indie. A New York publisher was seriously interested in A Rare Passion but wanted me to make several changes. I reworked the book like a maniac, wore out a computer and bought another, ignored visiting family, and finally sent the result in. Six weeks later I got a letter regretting that they were going out of business. Eventually, I picked myself up and wrote other novels, a couple of which won awards.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Getting it right. Hearing good things back. Winning awards. Being a professional writer and being able to mentor others.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have always admired Irwin Shaw, especially his "Rich Man, Poor Man" novel. Karleen Coen is another in her novel on the English Court in 1715, "Through A Glass Darkly" and sequel. I enjoyed Anton Myrer's "Once An Eagle" at least three times over. On others, I look for every mystery thriller by Michael Connelly, and Lee Child, whose character Jack Reacher is strong and uncomplicated. For humor, James Thurber fills the bill.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, playing with my cats, movies with friends, acting as Speaker Chair for the California Writers Club, Berkeley Branch. The CWC has 22 branches throughout California. The Berkeley Branch is the original one and its conception was brought about with the help of Jack London. I am also hostess for the CWC Berkeley branch's holiday luncheon where I tell jokes, stories, and sing.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I look up the library catalog on my favorite authors before I order.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
The Kindle.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Meeting people in various organizations. Presenting myself is the most effective in generating interest. To be frank, I am described as charming and entertaining.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I have one germinating; it is set in Brazil, where I lived 15 years. I lived five years in Italy, and That brought about "Journey from Shanghai."
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords works because it is straightforward and offers free looks.
What do your fans mean to you?
I hope my fans can see what I am demonstrating about life and its complications brought about by misfortunes. And of course, there is always an upturn at the end. That happens because a good strong protagonist works for it. All of that is myself.
What are you working on next?
An essay about the terrible way younger people are using the English language. If I hear one more "like" from a person, even overheard, I will "likely" start foaming at the mouth. And Please don't say "laying down" anymore when you mean "lying down." One lays eggs or lays a question to rest.
Are you funny?
When hosting the CWC holiday luncheon I am hilarious.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Books by This Author

A Rare Passion
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 67,850. Language: English. Published: July 28, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Romance » Action/adventure, Fiction » Adventure » Action
Linden Bradley is back in her beloved Brazil to help thousands of animals displayed by a dam going onstream. She grew up here while her father explored for oil. Now she faces the adventure of her life on the Iguassu River, the second longest river in South America. And she meets Cole Dominguez, a rancher.
Meow's Way Redux
Price: Free! Words: 2,280. Language: English. Published: May 21, 2013 . Categories: Nonfiction » Home & Garden » Pets & livestock » Cats, Nonfiction » Home & Garden » Pets & livestock » Cats
Further chronicles of Pinky, Tango, Loaner, and sundry visitors.
Farrago
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 36,200. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
As in her collection, Pastiche: Stories and Such, Lucille Bellucci continues her oblique observations of the world. There is hard truth in some of them, and a fond embrace of feline innocence in her homage to Pinky and the Gang. In between, she delivers a riot of experiences. She favors a mix, and that is what stands between these covers. Bellucci is the compleat award winner.
Pastiche
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 32,710. Language: English. Published: November 29, 2012 . Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
In her stories, Lucille Bellucci covers the world, where she has lived, with her peculiar off-center view. Her humor is a just treatment of comedy, and no one can deliver a grim look at history as she has lived it. Eight of Bellucci's stories and essays have won first-place awards. You can see her thoughts, action, and inner tremors. They are unrehearsed Life.
Meow's Way
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 12,440. Language: English. Published: June 24, 2012 . Categories: Nonfiction » Science & Nature » Animals
A tortoiseshell kitten pursues me until we catch each other. This is also the story of Pinky's siblings and sundry other critters. Doubt no more -- cats have hearts and souls. Winner of the Animals Animals Animals Book Awards.
Stone of Heaven
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 66,850. Language: English. Published: July 12, 2011 . Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American, Nonfiction » Relationships & Family » Ethics & morals
Mai-yeen and Rafaella Bardini emigrate from Rome, Italy, and plunge into life in America. It is a new life, new environment, with surprises.
Journey from Shanghai
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 104,080. Language: English. Published: July 1, 2011 . Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » Asian
Rafaella Bardini, her Chinese mother and Italian father, are exiled from Communist China. With almost no money, the family tries to resettle in Italy.
The Year of the Rat
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 100,880. Language: English. Published: June 22, 2011 . Categories: Fiction » Historical » General
Too soon after the second Big War and occupation by the Japanese army, Shanghai in 1948 faces occupation by Mao Tse-tung's army. The affluent foreigners believe this is just another civil war and will stay, but the Russian refugees who escaped the 1917 Bolshevik revolution know they will be killed.
The Snake Woman Of Ipanema
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 80,810. Language: English. Published: June 1, 2011 . Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American
An American couple in Rio de Janeiro are ensnared in Brazilian spirit rituals, at peril of their lives.