Author Spotlight: Valentina Cirasola

Welcome to next edition of the AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT & BOOK ALERT series. Today, we’re sharing:

Valentina and I met earlier this year through shared comments on another blogger’s website. We began chatting about books and design, and then I found her websites, where she shares all her design projects, multiple books, and a wonderful blog. I was in Italy last year and could completely see the connections among everything she’s doing now and has completed in the past. I thought about writing a stronger lead-in intro, but when I read her own on her website, I thought it was absolutely perfect. Let’s hear from Valentina in her own words…

About the Author

I am Valentina, Italian born, my hometown is Bari the capital of Puglia region. I was born into a family of artists, designers and food connoisseurs. When I moved away from my family and started to cook for myself out of necessity, it was as if by miracle, all those years watching, eating and tasting translated into doing. I recalled the perfection how every dish was supposed to look and taste. Watching my family and eating good food every day, gave me the expertise of a professional chef. I had the first funny episode in my cooking life and the only one of this kind: once, I cooked spaghetti without adding water in the pot and of course it was as if I had started firecrackers in my kitchen.

Today, living in America, among many things, I spread lightheartedness and joy, while passing my notions of the good life and good health through eating real food. Through public speaking and appearances, I educate and inspire people to eat real food and think of cooking not as a chore but a fun moment of the day.  Pour yourself a glass of wine, put on your favorite music or TV program and start cooking with joy, then set your table in a harmonious way, sit down and enjoy the product of your cooking whether there is a family or not eating with you. You are important and your soul will rejoice if you pay attention to it.

I am a passionate cook, avid reader, speak four languages and I trot the world. I also take interest in cuisines of the world and I am especially interested in food in history. These are all the pleasurable parts of my life that have prompted me to start writing books.

However, my main profession is in interior designing with a special focus upon Kitchens. What a better designer than the ones who cook! My passions are showing up in every aspect of my life. I have been in business as a certified interior designer since 1990, working in my company Valentina Interiors & Designs and have served a variegated group of fun people in Europe and in the United States. To remodel homes and to turn unattractive spaces into castles is the specialty of my business, but to design kitchens and wine grottos is my love, as you can imagine. Those are the rooms of a home that make people feel good.

One of the most fundamental areas in people’s lives is the HOME. Home is where people return to relax; a place to resolve any crisis. It is the center of everything and a lot of the answers to questions of life are there. In simple words, I love to harmonize people’s lives by finding their excellence, creating their energy with colors and adding beauty, while designing their palates as well. I care that everyone deserves to live in beauty and harmony.

Previous the interior design business, I was a fashion designer and owned my Atelier Valentina from where I created original one-of-a-kind fashion.
Now, so many years later, I have incorporated fashion in my interior design business and create powerful personal images for high rollers professionals and people who care to look good for themselves first in every moment of the day.

I have loved my professions for so long and never have given signs of wanting to quit. My books are the reflections of my passions.

Welcome to my world. Benvenuti nel mio mondo.

Key Links:

Note: There are 3 blog columns — Home Design Master, Friday Fashion, The Good Life

***

Overview of Book (s)

Valentina has written five (5) books. Today we will highlight a tiny bit about them, but I encourage you to check out her websites and social media profiles to learn even more:

Naked LeMons:

Limoncello is a yellow drink, traditional of the Italian Amalfi Coast. It is a cordial fragrant drink, sweet to the right point, spirited but not too much, it is extracted from lemons, brings people together and makes them happy. Limoncello has a dual function, it can be served with appetizers as an aperitif or a spritz, and it can be served straight as a digestive after-dinner drink. That’s the reason Limoncello is a popular drink among party-goers. In this booklet, I give suggestions on how to turn all the lemons without the skin, used to make Limoncello, into different products for your daily beauty and for your daily house cleaning. The people who have tried my suggestions and my Limoncello are happy people.

Looks inviting

RED-A Voyage Into Colors – second Edition (a new release):

From the dawn of time, every race and population have attributed various meanings and symbolism to colors. This book talks about colors, how humans can benefit from using them, how our health, spirit, and state of mind can improve by using all colors without distinction. The book teaches how to create and mix colors as a study for people who have an interest in becoming artists and are just starting. Also, the book delves into understanding colors from a spiritual point of view and how to use them, in a technical way, for interiors, fashion, food, entertainment and much more. It is so important when mixing colors to look at nature as our best teacher, where all colors are mixed together and co-exist well without rules and prejudices. We can simply copy nature and feel perfect in our choice of colors.  Note: The first edition of this book is no longer available

Finding our personal style is a process, a matter of learning techniques and following certain basic rules. Colors will help us creating a message, a mood, a feeling, a character, or harmony.”

Sins of a Queen:

Bread and wine: table for knights… Valentina “cooked” up another book, a second one of Valentina’s collection she plans to produce for the next few years. Valentina is a native of Italy and as all Italians she has a passion for fast cars, fast thinking, quick actions, snappy temper, hot and vivid colours, but she loves, loves, loves slow food. Her mission is to introduce the southern food of Italy to the world. It is the kind of food she grew up with, made it the centre of attraction for her entertainments and the subject of her classes. Southern Italian cuisine conserves all the flavour of the land, a kaleidoscopic burst of colours and tastes, in an incredible elegant simplicity. With this second book on Appetizers and Sweets, Valentina is aiming at showing the readers how to cook simple, versatile specialties that can be used as appetizers, as much as ideas for healthy meals. Make these specialties in larger quantities and you have a meal, make them in bite sizes and you have appetizers. Antipasti in Italian, Tapas in Spanish, Hors-d’oeuvres in French, Appetizers in English, however you want to say it, they all mean the same: prelude to a tasty meal. Appetizers are the way openers, the anticipation of what ‘s coming an hour later. Always served with lighter wines, Champagne or Prosecco, appetizers are the excitement of late morning before lunch, or the early evening relaxation moments before dinner. Yes, one can allow sweets at the end of a dinner, but they don’t have to add tons of sugar and calories to be good. The sweets Valentina presents in this book are made mostly of fruit. Sins of A Queen contains Valentina’s hand drawings continuing the style of her first book and many historical notes on Italian food and their celebrations, providing a pleasant reading and various subjects to talk about at dinner table with your guests. To know about food and to know how to eat, to know how to prepare and serve, to know which glass to use for wines, is all part of creating your own life in style. 

What a beautiful cover!

Come MIA Nonna-: A Return to Simplicity:

The red on the cheeks comes from the mouth-Old Folk Proverb

Octavian, a Roman Emperor once said “slow down, we are in a hurry”. This book is a tribute to slow food and appreciation of life, a life made with human rhythms. A return to simplicity because these recipes from the Region of Puglia, in Italy are so very uncomplicated that even if you have never cooked in your life, you will be able to put an attractive dinner together in a short, short time. 

The Road to the Top of the World:

When I published the first book, my marketing fantasy was I went to Mars to celebrate the New Year and the New Book. The photo named Kissing Rodolfo was shot a couple of years ago, when I took a group of American with me to visit my native land Puglia, in the South of Italy. One guy challenged me every day to do some spectacular and I did, that’s the reason I was kissing Rudolph Valentino. He also challenged me to write a book about that trip. The Road To Top Of The World was born in 2018.

Interview: Questions & Answers

What are your real, author, and/or pen names?

  • I don’t have a pen name, I go by my real name, Valentina Cirasola.

What is your location?

  • My preferred location is Top Of The World, as it appears on my social platforms. Leaving on Top Of The World is a state of mind, not a location, I don’t want to disclose my real location. However, I am in Northern California.

How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles?

  • The first book was published in 2009, A Return To Simplicity.
  • The second was published in 2010, Sins Of A Queen.
  • The third was published in 2012, RED-A Voyage Into Colors.
  • They are all paper books and were all published with Outskirts Press. During the last three years, this publisher has demanded to retain 50% on my earnings, and I refused to comply. The result was that the first 3 books were made “temporarily unavailable on Amazon.” I am republishing the third book made in 2012, ready to come out possibly next week.
  • In 2018, I decided to go independently and published my fourth book, The Road To Top Of The World, a travel narrative.
  • In 2019, I published my fifth book, Naked Lemons, both in paper and Kindle format.
  • Next year 2020, around March, I will publish the sixth book, So Chic, So Stylish.

Tell us a little bit about your books including the genres.

  • Before I became the authors of my books, I wrote articles for a few publications in Italy (where I am from), then I opened my blogs columns and I always wrote about subjects of my trades: fashion, interior design, homes improvements, colors, and sometimes even about food as a style/good life matter. My books reflect my knowledge in all those subjects, they are practical information for teaching and entertain. The 4th book is a travel narrative and it does resemble a novel, in that, it is made of short stories independent from each other.

Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

  • I want to publish at least 3 additional books and learn how to write screenplays. I love theatre plays and TV. series. BTW, I am a TV Producer as well.

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

  • Right now, my readers are people who want to learn to do what I do without hiring a professional to design their homes or their personal image.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

  • I would say: “Just do it.” I met authors who started to write a book 20 years ago, still tweaking and fussing. Their books are still on “high seas” and publication date is not even close to the horizon. To authors to be, I would say not to let time go buy, because age advances, the energy changes, life gets in the middle, goals change, desire to write might not be as fervent and the future doesn’t exist. The present is the only time we have, do it now.
  • Write about what you know, about the subjects you can talk about really easy and/or the passions of your life, then writing is a piece of cake.

What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

  • Living in Italy, nobody is given the opportunity to publish, unless the author is a political, religious personality, TV., cinema personality, or a personality in the “Illuminism society”. In America I found I had no barriers, and nothing was impossible, thus I made it happened.   

Do you belong to any writing groups?

  • No, I don’t. I am very discipline and I live an organized life. Writing is a lonely business, I would love to be part of a writing group, but my time, between design work, producing TV Shows for a local TV station and speaking in public is very limited. However, I have my method for writing. I dedicate to writing books or blogs, the very first few hours of the day (at least two hrs), those are the most productive times.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

  • I go to the Opera, photography, listen to music, knit and crochet, I used to paint, but I stopped for lack of space, read, watch informative TV, talk on the phone with friends all over the world, shop occasionally, take long walks, and dinner parties with friends. I cook every day, as relaxing moments and because I enjoy good food.

Some authors like to make an argument or address an issue when they write. Is there an issue that you’re addressing with your book?

  • Yes and no. In the book on the subject of colors, RED-A Voyage Into Colors, I make a lot of arguments on why colors are important, and I try not to preach.

What gave you the idea for your book?

  • Nature was the inspiration for the book on colors, also the slovenliness of how people get out of the house, often I think they go out with pajamas.

What are the most important things about you that you would want prospective readers to know?

  • I wished I had funny stories. I think my most enviable quality is I am not a “time waster”. If I have a project, I start it and finish it. I get a lot done, because I do what’s important first.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

  • Being alone is a great challenge for me.

What do you like about writing in your genre?

  • I know the stuff I write about, it comes easy. 

When did you know that you wanted to be an author?  What things, if any, influenced that decision?

  • The economic depression of 2007-08. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity of having less work and do nothing to fill the gap. I used an economic depression to my advantage and get to be known as an author.

With so many books being written today, what makes your books stand out from the crowd?

  • I can say this: I wrote my first book for fun and didn’t have the velleity to write more books afterward. It was a book about kitchen stories from my native land corroborated with some regional recipes. Someone asked me why I was writing another cookery book, since there are millions on the market on that subject (without even knowing it wasn’t a cookery book only). My answer was: “In the world, there is a space for one million and one.”

Do you read your reviews?  Do you respond to them, good or bad?  Do you do anything special to get those reviews?

  • When people buy a book directly from me, I will ask for a review. Generally, the reviews I received so far are good, and yes, I read them, but I don’t answer.

What advice would you give to your younger and/or older self?

  • Being concentrated is good, gets the author far away in writing, but don’t close yourself in solitude just to write.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in someone buying your book(s)? Who designs your book covers?

  • Yes, the cover is important, if it has attractive colors and an intriguing design. I designed all my book covers, the interior of each book, I do my own photography and graphic for each book. My books contain a lot of photos.  

What have you learned about yourselves since becoming an author?

  • There isn’t anything I can’t do. I learned to write better, to use meaningful and sophisticated words, I learned to format, to use computer graphics, and programs I knew nothing about, technical stuff I wasn’t interested. Most of all, I am writing in a language I wasn’t born into and had to learn to speak it better than the natives.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

  • Full time, 2-3 hours a day.

What do you think the hardest part of writing is?  What is the easiest?

  • The hardest part is marketing. The easiest is writing.

What type of books do you like to read?  Who are some of your favorite authors?

  • Historical novels with real fact and places but fictitious characters. Autobiography of famous people in all walks of life. Architecture books. Informational books, how to.

What is the one thing you would like your readers to know about you? Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?

  • Each one of us is a piece of history and a story to tell to posterity. Don’t destroy history, one day you could be destroyed as well by those who don’t believe history should be learned and kept vivid to create a better future. Then all your work will be gone, and your existence will have had no meaning.

Name influential authors on you and tell us why.

  • Isabel Allende, Chilean born, magical realism. I read most of her books in Spanish.
  • Dan Brown, American born, historical novel and action.
  • Sarah Dunant, British born, historical novels, fictitious characters.
  • Beppe Severgnini, Italian born, desecrating political novels.
  • Many more authors in the classic literature.

Which other authors and/or books do you think are similar to your own books?

  • A lot of famous interior designers and architects.

Do you blog and share book reviews of other authors?

  • Yes, I do, I have started not too long ago. I am getting to know some authors in writing communities.

What are your least and favorite characters or genres?

  • I can’t read scary, war, or violence books, I don’t sleep at night if I do.

What are you afraid to write about?

  • Politics, religion, real people with or without consent, occult.

If you could co-write a book with a famous author who would it be? If it was another writer you admire but isn’t well known, who would it be?

  • I would like to write with Scott Fitzgerald. I can’t say about a not well-known author. We all do our part to be known.

Giveaway Contest

Valentina is generously offering two FREE e-copies (different winners) of her book, Naked Lemons. You have 9 opportunities to enter between Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter & commenting on this blog post through the Rafflecopter link. Entry will be thru Facebook or your email address so we have a way to contact you if you’ve won. We will not share your info with anyone else. The contest is open from 10/26 thru 10/31 at 12pm EST, and the winner will be randomly chosen and notified on this post and through their email. To enter, please visit the GIVEAWAY @

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e5ee1a9212/?

Wrap Up

Thank you very much to Valentina for sharing her passion and love for literature, design, and art with us today. I loved being able to chat with a non-fiction author and altering our format and questions to best showcase her work. I hope you’ll check out her sites and find a new author and blogger you enjoy following. Stay tuned for another alert coming up soon this month… Have a great day!

***

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

23 comments

  1. Thanks to everyone, your kind words warm up my heart. I want to thank you, James, for this great interview. There are no strange people in the world, only people we have not met yet. I feel to have known you for a long time. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Valentina Expressions and commented:
    In the event of a new Thanksgiving Day, I am very grateful to have met fine authors and artists such as James Cudney IV and for the opportunity, he gave me with this interview, to be seen in his community of writers. Thank you, James and Happy Thanksgiving. If you were any closer, I would have invited you to my home and celebrate together the release od our new books. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just want to say this was a fabulous interview. I enjoyed learning more about Valentina and her very vibrant life. I can relate to so much of what was shared. And a lot of good advice, like don’t spend too much time alone! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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