About the Author
Family dynamics, genealogical research to solve ancestral mysteries and international travel are Marianne Perry’s priorities. A second-generation Canadian-Italian, she is the author of The Inheritance, a historical fiction set in Calabria, Italy from 1897 to 1913 inspired by her grandmother’s early life in Calabria. With a thirty-year career in education and communications, Marianne holds a Master of Education Degree from The University of Western Ontario (Canada).
A past member of the Board of Trustees, the Canadian National Arts Centre Corporation, she has also published non-fiction genealogical articles throughout North America. As a girl, Marianne fell in love with The National Geographic Magazine and dreamt of exploring the world. With her recent visit to Antarctica, she achieved her goal of stepping foot on every continent. The mother of two grown children, Marianne and her husband live on the shores of the St. Mary’s River, which drains Lake Superior on the outskirts of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. She continues to research family history and write non-fiction genealogical articles. In addition, she is working on her second novel and planning further adventures.
Marianne blogs about genealogy, travel, family and writing on her website. Visit her at http://www.marianneperry.ca. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Goodreads.
1. How did you get started as an author?
As a girl, I dreamt of being a travel writer for The National Geographic Magazine. My parents took us to the library every Saturday and when a teen, I read historical fiction by Taylor Caldwell and Irving Stone. My high school English teacher encouraged my writing and I majored in English and Dramatic Arts at university. I am retired from a thirty year career during which I held various positions in education, communications and public relations. I’ve also written policy documents, speeches, local television commercials, scripts for radio shows and community events, newsletters and career advice columns. In addition, I served as project director and primary writer for a commemorative art book published in honour of our city’s Homecoming Celebration. Over the past five years, I’ve launched a website, written regular blogs on genealogy, travel and writing, had genealogical articles published in North American magazines and journals plus written The Inheritance.
2. What writing projects are you currently working on?
In May 2013, I returned to Calabria, southern Italy for an extensive two week research trip geared to future projects. The novel I am currently writing is set in Italy; Switzerland and South America are secondary locations and countries I have also explored. The period is modern and the protagonist a woman of Italian ancestry who inherits a century old deed to property in Calabria under strange circumstances. She travels to Calabria to solve its mystery but forces thwart her along the way. My third book will be a sequel to The Inheritance. In addition, I continue to publish non-fiction genealogical articles for North American magazines and professional journals.
3. What does your writing process look like?
I value authenticity as an author and set my stories in places I have explored. Research and travel, therefore, are integral to my writing. With respect to The Inheritance, journeying through Calabria, southern Italy familiarized me with the region and, in particular, helped me pen vivid descriptive passages. The story unfolds from 1897 to 1913 and to recreate the era, I studied the history and social customs of the time, scoured genealogical documents to develop characters and thread their lives with real events plus referenced an antique map to validate locales. The Villa San Michele is a real turn of the century villa and I stayed there while visiting Cetraro, Calabria, a fishing village central to The Inheritance.
4. Where is your favourite place to write?
I have a den dedicated to writing and genealogical research with windows fronting Lake Superior in our Northern Ontario, Canada country home. I believe in positive energy and every item in the room honours family, cherished mementos and treasured books. I have travelled to the seven continents and there is a map of the world on the wall on which I record places I have visited.
The photograph shows me feeding Priscilla, a nine-month old rescued Dromedary camel at a farm in Uluru, Australia this past winter. To commemorate this marvellous experience, I purchased a miniscule camel figurine at the farm, which I’ve since displayed in my den.
5. How important are the names in your novels? How do you choose names for your characters?
The Inheritance is set in Calabria, southern Italy from 1897 to 1913.Names help create authenticity and I reviewed Italian genealogical documents to determine those appropriate for this era. Ship manifests identifying passengers who journeyed from Naples, Italy to Ellis Island, New York plus birth, marriage and death records were particularly valuable sources. As a result of my efforts, I chose Mafalda, Fortunata and Armida for minor characters. St. Catherine of Siena is a joint Patron Saint of Italy along with Saint Francis of Assisi. The name is a perennial favourite in Italian families plus has personal significance for it honours my late paternal grandmother, Nana Caterina and Catherine Rose Perry, an older sister who died in infancy.
This is a photograph of my late grandparents, Nana Caterina and Nonno Pietro Perri (Perry) taken September 21, 1915 on their wedding day that I inherited from my late father, Arnold Joseph Perry.
6. What authors/novels that you enjoy would you recommend?
Travel provides opportunity to learn about the world and my adventures influence my reading. Given my trip to the Northern Territory, Australia this past winter, I’ve read two books by Australian authors to deepen my understanding about the country. For those with a similar interest, I’d recommend The Waddi Tree by Kerry McGinnis and Tracks by Robyn Davidson. Venice, Italy is a favoured city and I enjoy Donna Leon’s crime fiction featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti. Visiting bookstores is on my travel itinerary and when I was in Reykjavik, Iceland this past summer, I purchased Silence of the Grave, a murder mystery by Icelandic author, Arnaldur Indridason. Other authors I enjoy include: Adriana Trigiani, Susan Vreeland, Tracy Chevalier, Ken Follett, Anne Perryand John Grisham.
7. What inspired the idea for The Inheritance?
Family mysteries intrigue me and I’ve been researching ancestral history for about twenty years. I wanted to understand why my paternal grandmother, Nana Caterina left Calabria, southern Italy in 1913 as a young woman; sailed on a steamship across the Atlantic Ocean; landed at Ellis Island, New York; settled in Canada and never returned to her homeland. Our large family knew scant about Nana’s early life so I started genealogical research to investigate her history, which eventually inspired The Inheritance.
8. What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
Travel and photography. I have explored the seven continents and this past summer, travelled to Iceland. On every trip, I’ve maintained a journal and taken photographs, which I compile into reference albums for my fiction and non-fiction writing projects. I took the photograph of the crumbling stone cottage on the cover of The Inheritance on a research trip to Calabria, Italy. The image is intrinsic to the story plus reflects the authenticity I value as a writer.
I snapped this photograph of a Gentoo Penguin at a rookery on Pleneau Island, Antarctica in February 2014. It seemed as if the little fellow were posing for me.
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