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Pucker Up: This Summer Prepare to “Kiss Carlo” [Costco Connection]

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Freelance journalist, www.Powered-by-Hope.com

If you are looking for a page-turner this summer, pick up Adriana Trigiani’s “Kiss Carlo.” It’s the latest from the New York Times bestselling author of “The Shoemaker’s Wife,” and the 2001 Big Stone Gap series — which became a motion picture in 2014, starring Ashley Judd, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jenna Elfman.

This new epic transports us to South Philadelphia, post-war 1949. Protagonists Dominic Palazzini owns the Palazzini Cab Company & Western Union Telegraph with his three sons, but a decades-long feud that began in 1933 split Dominic from his brother Mike and his family business.

“The plot sets the stage for a Shakespearean conflict, for it’s a story of love, loyalty and creativity that is filled with everything we all struggle with as humans,” believes Trigiana, who spoke to the Costco Connection from her home in New York City.

“As I go through my life, it becomes increasingly clear to me that at our core, we all want peace — a satisfyingly sweet alchemy where all of our needs are met.

“So my stories explore how families can work together, even when there is tremendous conflict, and move to a higher level,” she notes. “I believe that if there’s peace at home, there can be peace in the town, state, country — and the world.”

In this tome, she taps into the world of her grandfather, Michael A. Trigiani, a machinist-turned-mill owner who was something of a closet filmmaker. He spent years shooting home movies of his family and important events in his chosen hometown of Roseto, PA, in the Lehigh Valley.

“This town was cited in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, ‘Outliers: The Story of Success,’ in part because very few people died of a heart attack,” Trigiani explains. “When asked why, the townspeople explained they were simply carrying on the traditions they learned in their motherland — Roseto Valfortore — in southern Italy’s Province of Foggia.”

To see what all of the hoopla was about, Trigiani traveled to Roseto Valfortore.

While walking along the main road, she envisioned what life might have been like for her forbearers before they immigrated. It didn’t take long for the tale of the Palazzini clan to unfold in her mind’s eye.

Such an evolution of an idea is the secret sauce in Trigiani’s writing process. “First I get hooked on the story, then I do the research, and I keep doing research until I find answers to the question, ‘What really happened here?’”

Trigiani admits her process borders on insanity.

“It makes my editors nuts because I spend years sleuthing, solving, writing and rewriting. Just this morning I was re-working a chapter. It’s almost like the publisher is going to have to pry the final version out of my cold dead hands, because I’m continually perfecting it.”

Finding the perfect way to help under-served students catch the writing bug is another passion for Trigiani, who in 2013 co-founded the Origin Project, http://adrianatrigiani.com/the-origin-project/.

“We seek to inspire students to find their voices through the craft of writing about their Appalachian origins,” says Trigiani, who grew up in the mountains of Big Stone Gap, VA. “We started with 60 ninth-graders at Union High School in my hometown, and realized we needed to reach kids much earlier.”

As of December 2016, the organization has worked with more than a thousand students from 4th to 12th grade in four southwest Virginia counties. She also brings some of her bestselling author buddies into the classrooms, including Virginia-native David Baldacci, popular young adult author Mary Hogan, and novelist Meg Wolitzer.

“In everything I do, my ultimate goal is to lift people’s spirits,” Trigiani insists. “That’s what I care about, and what I’m best at. I follow whatever road takes me toward that.”

Hope Katz Gibbs is a freelancer writer based in Richmond, VA and Washington, DC. She first interviewed Adriana Trigiani in 2012 upon the publication of “The Shoemakers Daughter.” Read that review here.

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"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.

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