Writers Networking: Delia Petrucci-DeSantis
A member of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers, the Canadian Authors Association and the Writers’ Union of Canada, Delia also belongs to Lambton Writers’ Association.
Delia is the author of Fast Forward and Other Stories as well as the co-editor of Italian Canadians at Table and several anthologies. She has published short stories in literary journals and in anthologies, and many of her short stories have been translated into Italian.
G: Delia, when did you first know you were a writer?
D: I don’t think there was a particular time when I strongly felt that I wanted to be a writer. I was a solitary child. As a little girl back in Italy, where I was born, I used to spend a lot of time on my own. My parents were very busy with the farm. My grandparents, who lived with us, were also busy with chores, and I didn’t have any sisters, just a brother four years older, and although we got along, we didn’t spend much time together. I loved nature, exploring the countryside, the river that crossed our land, the bushes at the back of the house, and so on—in those days parents allowed their children to roam around freely, not like nowadays. I more or less lived in a world of my own. A world where I was free to imagine things and no one bothered me. In my innocence and the silence around me, I could say that that could have been the beginning of my world as a writer, even though the imagined events and stories were not being written down anywhere. The landscape was metaphorically a room of my own, for imagining and creating.
G: How do your previous life experiences influence your writing?
D: I am not influenced by my own life experiences that much. My writing, mostly short stories, is character driven. I am an observer, with a great sense of perception and sensitivity. I observe people in any situation. Something as simple and ordinary as a trip to the grocery store could provide me with a catalyst for a story. A little incident, the way someone is dressed, a funny hat, a partly overheard conversation between two people, anything. From there I start to invent characters and I create conflicts that need to be solved by these characters. The strange thing is that I love nature, but I don’t write about nature. I don’t do scenery well. I write about everyday life. The things that happen or can happen to people—set in the present or the past.
G: What are the genres in which you write? Do you have a preferred one?
D: I mostly write short stories. I also do some creative nonfiction. In fact I am starting to like that genre more now.
G: Are you working on a project currently?
D: I always have a short story on the go. In the next couple of years I would like to put out another book of short stories. I had good reviews with my first book Fast Forward, which came out in 2008, so that gives me encouragement. I actually have enough stories to make a book, but they’re stories that have already been published elsewhere—in literary magazines or anthologies. Usually publishers like to see quite a bit of original writing in a collection. But in the last few years I have been busy doing editing. I have co-edited four anthologies and I am presently co-editing with my good friend, writer and poet Venera Fazio, a book about 26 Italian Canadian women writers. We are including their creative work, plus an essay by each one of them about their writing, their life, etc. The book will be published by the Iacobucci Centre, at the University of Toronto.
G: Do you have a favourite location for writing?
D: I always write at my computer, in a room with a nice window that looks out on the street. When I want to rest my eyes, I can look outside.
G: What kind of books do you read?
D: I haven’t been reading a lot lately. I had some issues with my eyes, so after working on the computer, I need to rest them. I don’t want to strain them. But I do like to read short stories, of course, and novellas. Mostly literary works. I also enjoy reading plays. I find that the dialogue in plays helps me with the dialogue in my own work. And I read some poetry, especially that of local poets.
G: Do you wish to share anything about your personal life?
D: My husband and I celebrated our 52nd anniversary not long ago. I have two wonderful sons, and two teen age grandsons—and a very special daughter-in-law. I do a lot of volunteer work with the Association of Italian Canadian Writers. It’s a national organization and I am the treasurer, so that keeps me pretty busy. I love to cook for family and enjoy having friends over. I like traveling, especially going to Italy and visiting the relatives who still live there.
G: Have you participated in writing contests?
D: I used to, years ago. And I won several times—first, second and third prizes and also honorable mention. I remember once winning first prize in a contest in Italy for a story that had been translated into Italian. The prize was a paid holiday at a mountain resort for a week—but I couldn’t go. I can’t remember why, it was a long time ago..
G: What works have you published to date?
D: I published my short story collection Fast Forward and Other Stories and many short stories in literary magazines and in several anthologies. Quite a few of my stories have been published in Italian. Last year, my short story “Blueberry Muffins” was picked up for reprint by McGraw-Hill Ryerson publishers, for an educational publication.
G: What are your thoughts on traditional vs indie publishing?
D: For myself I prefer traditional publishing because the author is not required to do all of the promotion. Although publishers seem to be doing less and less of it anymore. I think indie publishing is great for authors who know how to market their work. It can also bring to the public great works of art that have been overlooked by traditional publishers—they seem to stick to publishing “name” authors rather than a writer that no one has ever heard of.
G: Anything else you wish to elaborate on?
D: I just want to say that I appreciate all my writing friends in Lambton County. I know that along the way I have been encouraged and helped by everyone, either directly or indirectly. The local support is great. I couldn’t have done it alone.
Thank you so much, Delia, for sharing some of your thoughts on writing, and for delighting us with your interesting background. All good wishes for a creative future.
Thanks for this most informative and beautiful article about Delia. I’ve known Delia for many years. She does not flaunt her successes so I was happy to read them here. She is a keen observer of life and a gifted writer. She is delightful and I am honoured to say I know her.
And thank you, Heather! Your professional opinion is greatly valued.