About the Author
oe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. His father and grandparents immigrated to New York from Naples. Joe and his wife, Jane have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas with their shih tzu Sophia. Joe's stories have appeared in more than sixty magazines including Bartleby Snopes, The Newfound Journal, and The Summerset Review
1. How did you get started as an author? What or whom inspired you?
My wife Jane and I lived in Greece. We loved the people and I became fascinated with ancient history. I decided to write an historical fiction about the Persian Wars: Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis. The novel took some time and the prose was terrible. I realized that I needed to learn how to write. I took a creative writing class from Ben Fountain at the University of Texas at Austin. I walked out wanting to write short stories. I toiled for three years, amassing a landfill-worthy pile of rejections, before my first piece was accepted. Since then, seventy of my stories have been published and now my novel, Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story.
2. How many books have you written and in what genres?
The Persian Wars novel is on the scrap heap, leaving only Birds of Passage. The piece is literary historical fiction with a touch of romance.
3. What writing projects are you currently working on? What can you tell us about these projects?
I’m working on a modern literary thriller about an Italian-American who runs afoul of the Russian mob. I hope the reader won’t be able to put it down. I continue to write short stories that explore various aspects of human nature that I’ve either experienced or observed. A sequel to Birds of Passage will be written if readers demand more.
4. What does your writing process look like?
A hurricane. There’s a lot of spinning, sometimes careening off in unpredictable directions, but the intent is to land with some oomph.
5. Where is your favorite place to write?
I write in a computer equipped man-cave. The shelves are crammed with travel memorabilia. Our shih tzu, Sophia, is often in my lap.
6. How important are the names in your novels? How do you choose names for characters? Do you have any name resources you would suggest?
Some names are suggestive, for example Basso (short), Drago (dragon), and Innocenti (innocent). Leonardo was chosen because it sounds powerful and is also the name of a friend. I kept the Italian character’s home region in mind when selecting surnames.
7. What authors/novels that you enjoy would you recommend?
Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk was excellent. Cormac McCarthy cynically explores the depths of human evil. As I’m writing a literary thriller, I’m rereading Le Carre. I also read a lot of short stories for enjoyment and inspiration. Chekhov, Salter, and Richard Yates are favorites.
8. Where is your favorite place to read and why?
A: I read a lot in my computer man-cave, but otherwise there’s no special place.
9. What period of history interests you the most?
Recently I attended the University of Texas as an English and History major. So, I was able to explore many past periods, e.g. The French Revolution, The American Revolution and Civil War, ancient Greece and Rome. Recently, we traveled in Ireland and I was turned onto Irish history.
10. If you could choose someone famous to star in one of your books made into a movie. Who would you choose and for which character?
He’s probably too old now, but Leonardo Di Caprio as Leonardo Robustelli. If Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Copolla directed the movie, I’m sure they’d find the right actors for Birds of Passage. I’d love to see who they’d pick for Azzura.
11. What inspired the idea for your novel Birds of Passage, An Italian Immigrant Coming of Age Story?
All my grandparents and my father were immigrants from Naples. They entered the United States during the Progressive Era. I was curious about the period and took a graduate course at UT Austin. My term paper focused on Italians who were called “birds of passage” because they were the first immigrants who returned to their home country. Many made numerous trips until the immigration laws tightened. During the semester, I wrote a short story, “The Sour Smell of Pain” about an Italian immigrant’s experience. Since my Greek novel tragedy, I had a number of short stories published. so I tackled Birds of Passage. The novel is not about my family, although insiders will recognize many veiled references. I’m old enough to have known people born in the nineteenth-century. I tried to capture how people of that time thought and acted.
12. What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
Jane and I love to travel. We also play bridge and golf together. I’m always working on my Italian.
Check out my review of
BIRDS OF PASSAGE
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