The year is 1936, the place, Chicago, Illinois, and Meg Cavelli has achieved her life-long dream — her ticket as a Private Investigator. Until one day, USAAC pilot Seth Truitt, an old flame and pain in her side, roars back into her life with his own problem. Should she take on Seth’s case and let the only man she ever loved back into her life? Or say — no thanks, ace — lesson learned…
Today I’m chatting with Annalisa Russo, author of the ‘Angel Boy’ the final instalment of the The Cavelli Angel Saga. Annalisa, thank you for setting some time aside for us to discuss your approaches to writing and this novel of yours. How did the foundational threads of this book come into being?
I usually start with a picture of the character in my head. So, I keep files of images torn out of magazines, shopping flyers, perfume advertisements, etc. and when I see an interesting face, sometimes it will prompt an idea for a story.
That’s pretty cool, so you’re working as essentially as a human bowerbird, picking up what is visually appealing to you and then crafting a story from the little treasures that you collate. Do you view this process of collecting as research, or do you separate hard research out into it’s own step?
For the first three books, I did exhaustive research on the 1920’s. For Angel Boy, the last in the series, I had to research the 1930’s.
What kind of ideas did you want to draw to the front for your characters to explore during this period of time?
All of my books revolve around love of family. The Cavelli Angel Saga tells the story of the five Cavelli children and the men or women they choose as mates. They are a big Italian family in the early 20th century.
Do you come from a big Italian family too?
Yes, I grew up in a large Italian family in the burbs of Chicago, just like the Cavellis. It wasn’t a stretch to imagine what their family life was like.
Do you have a favourite family member that you would go out with if they could come to life?
Oh, yeah. Gabe Cavelli, the bad boy of the Cavelli family. He’s right up my alley.
*Laughs*. Ahh, the thrill of the bad boy. After three books many authors might say that what they set out to do in the initially had been accomplished. What drew you back to Seth to write a fourth and final novel in this series?
Seth Truitt was an enterprising young man in the first book that I couldn’t seem to let go of. The Cavelli Angel Saga was supposed to be a trilogy, but I kept asking myself what happened to Seth. Hence, book four, Seth’s story: Angel Boy.
As this is now your final outing with Seth, have you already allowed your mind and pen to wander to the next story?
Ooooh. Can you offer tempt us with a little sneak as to what this story is about?
What would you do if your mailman delivered a box of diamonds to your front door? That thought became the idea for the book I’m writing now.
I do like that idea. Ideally I hope that that box of diamonds is legally requested and addressed to me so I keep the diamonds without any concerns, but I doubt that your characters are going to be that lucky. As your inspiration has already been fired on the next narrative, how long would you expect the writing process to take you?
Now, I can usually finish a first draft in three months, but the first book took ten years.
That first book does take a long time as you’re just getting into the groove of becoming an author, but three months is working to a more energetic timeline. Do you use any tricks to keep your energy up?
I aim for 1500 words per day, five days a week. After that, I seem to get what I like to call “fuzzy brain.”
That’s a pretty solid number of words. Do you also use certain routines to make sure that you aren’t editing on a fuzzy brain?
I do a thorough editing process every five chapters. Waiting until the end is too daunting for me. Then I set the book aside for two weeks and do a final edit.
I find that setting aside the book is a good tip for new editors. Now Annalisa, we’re onto the quick fire round where I throw a barrage of random questions at you to parry back at your own leisure. We’ll start with:
If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?
A horse that could fly? Think Pegasus.
No bad. Can you stand on your hands unassisted?
Maybe…when I was ten.
If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
Nope. Can’t steal. Don’t try to make me.
Can you curl your tongue?
Nope, apparently this talent is not bestowed to all. Which are cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
Dinosaurs. Definitely the big T-Rex.
What’s the most unusual name you’ve ever come across?
La-a Pronounced: La-dash-a
Wow, okay I have not heard of that one before. Quite a different concept on the application of English too. I will have to think about that one a bit more. Finally, What is your best tip for authors?
Keep writing. When one book is finished, start another while promoting the others.
Promote, promote, promote, ever the good tip for authors. Annalisa, thank you again for setting aside this time today to chat with me and I hope that you have the best of luck with your promotion of Angel Boy.
Want to find out more about Annalisa Russo? Connect here!