Author C. D’Angelo is a person with a healthy attitude to admire. As she states on her website, “I love my job [as a psychotherapist for young adults] but also love SO much more in my personal life.” And that personal life is full; it includes a husband, reading, traveling, music, Italian culture and more, much of which makes into her debut novel, The Difference. The book, her first, “is a tale of self discovery through family” that makes the reader want to investigate their own family history. Another part of C.’s life involves manuscript pitching. With all her experience in the trenches (she’s participated in two PitMad events), she’s put together a book to help authors with Pitch Parties, and she serves as a Pitch Coach, which is something many authors can use (how many times have you heard someone say, “I can write the book, but the pitch is proving to be difficult”?). The Difference only launched last week, so C.’s been quite busy; I’m grateful for the time she took to answer my questions!
Christina: Congratulations on the launch of The Difference. The book features Rachel Granza, who takes on a mission to ultimately “save herself,” which thrusts her on an emotional journey. That is, in effect, the definition of women’s fiction. What draws you to the women’s fiction genre in particular?
C: It happened by accident—a happy accident. I didn’t want to research anything about the publishing process before I wrote the book because I knew I would be too anxious and it would affect my creativity. So, once done I Googled genres and knew The Difference was a perfect match. Women’s fiction is the right fit for me because it requires a character’s emotional growth. I have been a psychotherapist for 20 years, so I am naturally drawn to writing about human change and know innuendos of how it may occur. How could I not write in that genre?
C: Sometimes the Italian culture is represented by Americanized stereotypical portrayals of the population, I feel. For example, the accent or that everyone has a mafia tie! In The Difference, I tried to include traditions, some of which may be stereotypical but have truth, and to bring knowledge to the audience about the roots of these facts. I wanted people to feel ingrained in the culture, even if not Italian. The universally relatable family story is friendly, welcoming, and inclusive for readers from all cultures to enjoy, learn from, and hopefully gain their own insights.
Christina: The book tackles themes like how to deal with a “growing sense of emptiness” and Rachel hopes to “find happiness and meaning again.” After experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, your readers will be able to relate to Rachel so well. Do you have any tips for how we can cope or help others cope with feelings like those Rachel experiences?
C: Putting on my therapist hat for a second, I would say to first think about what used to bring meaning to you. Sometimes we forget what joy we had in childhood with certain hobbies or adventures. Anything can connect you with past meaning that may influence your future. Nothing is too small. Maybe you can find a little of that magic now in adulthood so integrate it into your life. I also would suggest a short and long-term goal list. Just like Rachel in The Difference, a list is always welcomed for strategizing. Think about where you may see yourself next week or month, then build from there to a year. Writing down action steps can help you stay accountable and envision your success. Besides these two tasks to try, keep in mind this time is temporary. Even when something feels endless, there usually is an end, a change, and a new beginning. Always reach out to loved ones or community support if needed as well.
Christina: You took a leap of faith and trusted your instincts when you decided to walk away from a publisher and self-publish your novel. Can you tell us a little bit about what you learned from that experience?
C: That was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I knew in my gut what I had to do and it worked out for my benefit. I know to listen to that little voice we all have, but this time tried to ignore it once it started to tell me, no scream at me, to leave. I think I need to refrain from questioning it again because it knows best. Listen to your intuition, people! It saves time and your sense of peace.
Christina: On your blog, you talk about grit and mention that Dr. Angela Duckworth defines the word as “passion and perseverance for long-term goals.” Many writers require grit to ever see their book in print. Do you think grit is an innate trait, or can it be developed? If the latter is true, what are some ways we can cultivate grit in ourselves?
C: I always believe people can do what they want if they want it bad enough, therefore people can develop grit. We don’t have to be born with this quality because environment influences how we grow up and the adults that we are eventually. Grit boils down to a huge desire and never giving up, so if the end goal is important enough, the person will achieve it, no matter the amount of time. Many other factors may be a barrier, but the grit will shine through and prevail if meant to be.
Christina: I also grew up in a family with strong Italian roots, and food plays a central role in many of my memories. You share some of your favorite recipes in your newsletter, but I’m curious to know, what is your favorite memory that involves food?
C: Oh, this is a hard question because there are so many! I hold a special memory of Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house every year when I was a child. My grandma made aiole (garlic and oil on spaghetti) and her beef and vegetable soup, which I still can’t make as well as her. We had other food but those were my favorites. The spirit of the night captured my heart and makes it my favorite food memory because we would have a feast then relax until midnight mass at their church. As a young child I remember sleeping through most of it, but still being excited to go. After all, it was a step closer to Santa coming. 😊 When older, I still loved the tradition of going to their house for that meal and church, then they would come to our house the next day. Those Christmases were the best of my life and I miss my family, but have the memories forever in my heart.
Christina: What’s next for you?
C: I wrote a second novel that I hope to release next year, called The Visitor. It’s about a woman who owns a new age store in New Orleans and it’s being threatened to be demolished by a developer. Well, that developer is led by her nemesis high school ex-boyfriend. She needs to learn to trust her community, a difficult task for independent Mary, to help her keep her store and apartment above or lose all that she’s earned. There may be a mystical customer that wants to help as well, hint, hint. It’s the first time I wrote a paranormal element so I’m extremely excited about it. Halloween is my favorite holiday, despite the Christmas memory above, so this second book fills that part of my soul. Besides that new journey, I will be continuing to tell everyone who will listen about my book baby The Difference.
Thanks to C. D’Angelo for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to leave a comment or email me via my contact page.