IndieView with Stef Smulders, author of Living in Italy

I looked back on what had happened and thought it was worth writing a book about our hilarious and horrendous adventures.

Stef Smulders – 1 April 2017

The Back Flap

Ever thought about moving to Italy? Think again. And do it anyway. Witty expat stories of two Dutchmen and their dog who took the plunge and nearly drowned …

About the book

What is the book about?

The book consists of stories about my experiences living as a Dutch expat in Italy. When I moved here in 2008 to buy a house and start a bed and breakfast we met a range of Italians and were confronted with a lot of situations that were rather different from what we were used to.

When did you start writing the book?

I started a few years after we moved to Italy, once things were settled and the b&b was running smoothly. I looked back on what had happened and thought it was worth writing a book about our hilarious and horrendous adventures.

How long did it take you to write it?

After several false starts in which I did not find the right track and tone I wrote it in two months. Editing and correcting then took another four!

Where did you get the idea from?

I had read Tim Parks’ books about Italy some time before and was a great admirer, so I thought I might try and write something similar.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

The main struggle was to convert the blog posts into stories suited for a general public instead of just family and friends and to create continuity in the story.

What came easily?

Writing each chapter was easy once I knew what it was to be about. Surprisingly easy.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

The book is based on real life experiences and so are the characters, although I chose to emphasize some traits and neglect others to increase interest, without turning the characters into caricatures.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

Yes, Tim Parks.

Do you have a target reader? 

People who love Italy, like to travel and (to be) expats. Plus, anyone who likes to read amusing stories about people and cultural differences.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

With this book, my first, I collected the material for each chapter first, reading the blog posts involved and then just started writing.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I more or less made a timeline of what happened when and what should come before or after what, a general table of contents so to speak.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I did edit each chapter once, the day after writing it and then waited till the first version was complete.

Did you hire a professional editor?

I did not hire an editor but asked an author-friend to criticize and found a range of volunteer proofreaders.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

No, silence is best as I tend to listen to the sentences while writing, to check if the rhythm is okay. Classical music if needs be. No talking!

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

No, I felt that chances of getting published by a major publisher were too small to make the effort. And I am an autodidact in everything, I love to remain in control. And the possibilities were there to publish all on your own.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process? 

I decided to self-publish straight from the beginning, in order to avoid the hassle with a publisher.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I opted for a website where you can propose a project and designers may offer their work. In the end a professional designer made the cover of my book.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I just do anything that crosses my mind or that I find on the internet, no plan.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors? 

Start early, way before the book is finished! Find prelaunch reviewers, start promotion before.

About You

Where did you grow up?

In the Netherlands, mainly in small villages in the countryside

Where do you live now?

In Italy, the wine region south of Milan called the Oltrepo Pavese

What would you like readers to know about you?

I am married to my husband Nico (we are a gay couple) and have a dog, Joia. Love reading, mainly psychological novels and stories. Plan to continue writing, other genres as well.

What are you working on now?

The third volume of stories about my life in Italy, in Dutch.

End of Interview:

For more from Stef, visit the book’s website or like the Facebook page.

Get your copy of Living in Italy from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

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