Posted on 08/22/2018 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Based on its reputation alone, it’s no surprise that Italy inspired author Pamela Allegretto.
But it wasn’t just the country’s beauty that turned this visual artist into a published writer as well — it was something darker.
Allegretto was raised in the United States but surrounded, both here and in her travels, by Italian relatives who had survived World War II.
Their stories of survival awed and chilled her. So did the firsthand tales she heard upon moving to Florence, Italy, to attend college.
What also moved her, though in a much different way, were the casual jokes about Italian complicity and cowardice.
Allegretto knew, from all of the people she’d met and the history she’d absorbed, that this was simply offensive and inaccurate, that countless people had risked everything to stand up for what was right.
She spent years researching the story she wanted to tell, visiting sites and interviewing survivors, to paint the real portrait of the Italian resistance.
That effort became her debut novel, Bridge of Sighs and Dreams.
Allegretto, who currently splits her time among painting, writing, and translating Italian poetry, took time away from working on her second novel to share her journey with us.
SADYE: What inspired you to pick up writing professionally?
PAMELA: I come from a large Italian family where animated story telling abounds.
I suppose having a vivid imagination is as innate as the ability to twirl the perfect forkful of pasta.
Also, after spending years translating for others, I was itching to do my own writing.
SADYE: Where did you find inspiration for your next work?
PAMELA: I spent many years researching and writing my World War II novel, Bridge of Sighs and Dreams.
And although it is a story near and dear to my heart, I was eager to write something contemporary and not-too-serious.
I have visited Venice more than a dozen times and wanted to base a caper (sort of an international “cozy mystery”) in that beautiful city.
SADYE: Your pre-novelist resume is probably the most colorful of any I’ve ever read. What, besides writing, was your favorite job?
PAMELA: Oh boy, I have had such an interesting assortment of jobs that lasted from one day — as a dog shampooer, being bitten three times — to seventeen years as a hairstylist where I was bitten only once!
I will say that my career as an artist brings me much joy. The thrill of selling something that I have created is never diminished.
As a jazz/blues singer, I loved working the small, dark, smoke-filled clubs. That atmosphere always felt somewhat clandestine and a little bit naughty with its colorful bohemian clientele.
I enjoyed my diverse teaching gigs: I taught Italian at Berlitz, I worked as a swimming instructor, and as a hairstylist, I was sent by Citizens International to conduct styling workshops in Russia.
I continue to draw pleasure in translating poetry for various Italian poets.
SADYE: So what about your time as a Playboy Bunny, then?
PAMELA: I hate to burst any preconceived bubbles, but being a Playboy Bunny was not a glamorous job.
I worked eight-hour shifts, carrying heavy drink trays and wearing a costume so tight that it threatened my capacity to breathe properly, while I walked in four-inch spiked heels that barely stifled my toes’ agonizing cries for liberation.
That said, I had wonderful co-workers, met some interesting people, and learned how to keep my tail fluffed and my ears from falling off.
SADYE: Any chance at all you think it helped you as a writer?
PAMELA: It helped me to want an occupation where I could sit down.
Of course, then I went on to hairstyling, where I stood for fourteen-hour shifts, but at least the wardrobe was more accommodating.
Both jobs did allow me to gather interesting character traits from my clientele that I am able to use and embellish in my prose.
SADYE: What has been the most rewarding part of your writing journey?
PAMELA: I am deeply touched when reader takes the time to let me know through email, website, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, etc. that they enjoy my work.
In addition, it has been a delightful and unexpected perk to have developed friendships with so many kindhearted authors.
SADYE: What’s the best writing advice you’ve received?
PAMELA: Don’t force your characters to say or do something against their nature. Set them free, and they will take you to places you might never have imagined.
Don’t overuse adjectives, adverbs, and “tag” phrases. Less is more.
Pay attention to style. Slow down and enjoy the process. Edit, edit, edit.
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Categories: Author Interview