Monday, February 24, 2014

Author Interview: Barbara Oliverio

Barbara Oliverio
author, Love on the Back Burner: A Tasty Romantic Comedy

Give us a bit of your background (where are you from, your family, traveling adventures)

I am a first generation Italian-American born to a coal miner and his wife in north central West Virginia. (Yes, I’m an actual coalminer’s daughter!) Our small town was a hodge-podge of immigrants from Italy, Poland, Spain, Russia mixed with people whose ancestry stretched back to the 1600s. Because our roots were so fresh, living in our house was more like actually living in Italy. My parents were devout Catholics and from them I inherited a love and respect for the faith.

We never travelled much when I was a child, but I have since made up for it in my adult years. I have lived and worked in five different states as well as in Italy. While in Italy I took advantage of being bi-lingual to travel throughout the country, as well as throughout France, Germany and Switzerland. I married a man who loves travel as much as I do, and we love to vacation throughout the US as well as abroad.

Most writers are readers. What are some of the books you have on your nightstand and/or on your "must read" list?

I could open a small lending library with the breadth of reading material that I collect. At any given moment, I’ll be deeply entrenched in a book on Catholic history, moving to the history of salt, then turn to a multi-volume family saga, switching to a sports autobiography or a romantic comedy. I just love to read. Currently I am re-reading some G.K.

Chesterton, along with Herman Wouk’s latest, and recently took a break to catch up on the Divergent series. I recently returned from the used bookstore with a pile of chick-lit so that I can keep up on the genre in which I am focusing my writing.

What is one silly fact about you?

I stay away from most reality TV, but do not get between me and my “Dancing With the Stars”. If I could only have one reality competition show – and who would be giving me THAT odd Sophie’s Choice?? – it would definitely be “Dancing..”

Why do you choose to write clean/sweet romance? Do you write steamy romance as well?

For one thing, I felt that young Catholic women did not see themselves represented in popular literature yet I know that most of them are fun, normal girls who live out their faith but sometimes get into kooky escapades. I also felt that young women in general needed role models who did not jump into bed on the first date – discourse without intercourse, as one of my readers called it. And finally, I began to see a disturbing trend in not just sexy novels, but nasty sexy novels and I wanted to offer a counter to that.

I have the writing chops to create a steamy romance, but I won’t. I’d rather show that a reader can be sufficiently engaged with dialog and plot.

What other things do you have planned with your writing for the next year or so?

I’m currently finishing the sequel to my first novel and have an outline in place for another one that is not in the series.

In addition, I do non-fiction contract writing for the web.

Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader?

My favorite comment was from this reviewer: “A steer away from my normal erotic or paranormal review this book was SO GOOD! I loved it. ”

I figure if someone who doesn’t normally read clean romances can like it, then it stands on its own merit.

Please share about your book 

Readers' Favorite Award™-Winning Love on the Back Burner spins the story of sassy Alexandria D'Agostino.

She is youngest in a tight-knit Italian-American family with a successful marketing career and a passion for cooking, yet her romantic life is less than 4-star. For years, she has tried cooking her way into men's hearts by flaunting her old world culinary skills, but now, she's changing the menu. She dishes up childhood favorites to a succession of first dates (recipes included). The book features an engaging cast of characters including a rock-star-turned- priest brother, a no-nonsense Italian immigrant grandmother, and a crew of friends who are always up for a good meal. With a dollop of persistence and a dash of laughter, will Alexandria discover the recipe for happiness -- and perhaps love?

If you could sum your main character into five words, what would they be?

Lively, Vulnerable, Resourceful, Clever, Witty

Do you have a favorite character you have written so far? 

My favorite character in “Love on the Back Burner” is Nonna Teresa. She is based on my own late mother and is a loving sketch of her. Every quirk and every funny comment is one that is directly attributable to the indomitable Teresa Oliverio. Some people have told me that nobody can be that exaggerated, to which I can only say (and my family can verify) I have actually toned her down for the book.

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