Local Author Anthony Paolucci Recalls 'Memories of Winter'
September 16, 2013
The creator of more than thirty titles, Paolucci writes for audiences that range from preschoolers to adults. His stories embody a wide variety of subjects and themes, and he credits his daughter, Eden Rain, and wife, Christine, as having served as the inspiration for many of his ideas. All of his books are produced through Broken Moon Publications and available for purchase in paperback or hardcover editions on Lulu.com; Kindle books and select paperbacks are also available on Amazon. Paolucci is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. He makes his home in Milford.
Paolucci is currently focusing his attention on the young adult genre and published his most recent book, Memories of Winter, for that audience at the end of August. Reader J.F. noted, “It was a very interesting, slightly darker story. I liked the passing through generations idea. It’s really cool when a story has that much depth and history to it. Overall, a very involved story, and I was intrigued and entertained by it.” The first chapter can be read here.
From the publisher:
Daydreamer Winter Mitchell struggles to find balance in her life, torn between the need to maintain her grades and appease the budding artist within. Escaping the rigors of adolescence by way of her art, music, and books, Winter copes with the pressures of being the daughter of two working artists, and the heartache of a younger brother with a life-threatening ailment. Her best friend, Taliba Jones, accompanies Winter on this never-ending quest for personal acceptance and understanding, yet there are times when Winter feels as if she's destined to be alone, and a failure in her endeavors. Then comes the day Winter's mother presents her with a curious heirloom-an ancient bracelet that is bequeathed to the women in her family at the age of thirteen. Winter's dreams soon become a doorway to the past, as she bears witness to the magical awakening of bracelet owners past. Forever changed by their newfound abilities, will Winter be next in this long line of girls whose lives are touched by the bracelet's power?
Now, Anthony Paolucci offers a revealing look inside his writer’s journey:
1) At the moment, your focus is on writing young adult novels. What is it about this genre that particularly appeals to you, and how does writing for a teen audience both challenge and invigorate you creatively?
The plight of the American teenager hasn’t changed all that much in the last 50 years. Most are struggling to discover who they are, figure out their place in the world, and succeed academically. All the while, they’re contending with emotions and physical changes that only mange to complicate everything. Unfortunately, a lot of parents forget what it was like to be that age, and, as a result, they have a difficult time understanding and relating to their own children. They tend to have a hard time seeing past the surface level of the situation, which only breeds resentment on both sides. They can be impatient and set standards and goals that are difficult for their children to achieve. They forget what it was like to fall in love for the first time at that age, to believe with all your heart and soul that, even though you’re only fourteen, you’re going to be with this person forever. And despite all the angst and frustration that a teenager experiences, regardless of how vulnerable they may feel at times, there’s an underlining of sheer invincibility. Old age is still far off, the need for a serious career a million miles away, and susceptibility to age-related disease in another universe entirely. You’re right on the cusp of maturity, which can be both a very exciting and very terrifying time. You’re overwhelmed, over stimulated, and over informed. What kids don’t understand at this age is that all the terrible things they feel and experience as a teenager doesn’t necessarily vanish when you reach adulthood: they merely change forms, or exist on a different scale. Adults still experience social anxiety, relationship issues, identity crises, peer pressure, things of this nature. The only advantage that adults have is the experience of having gone through it all before, and they don’t have things like puberty making it seem a thousand times worse. These are the most crucial years in a person’s life. A lot of important decisions are made, unknowingly or not, that affect the rest of your life. Ask any adult what they would change about their life, and they’ll likely mention one or more things that took place in their teens. These are the years when you become the person you’ll be until your dying day. And because you feel indestructible in a sense, you’re more inclined to experiment with danger, whether it’s driving excessively fast, drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, all of which can have a lasting effect on your health and personality. As a teen, you feel you have something to prove, to yourself, your parents, your friends, the opposite sex, the world, and you feel this incredible pressure to do so, or risk being worthless and insignificant. I’d like to think that I’m one of these adults who hasn’t forgotten what all of this feels like, who can still recall the lessons of these experiences vividly enough to pass them on to others. These books are my way of saying, “I understand what you’re going through, and this is what I learned from my own experiences.”
2) Tell us about the inspiration for your most recent release, MEMORIES OF WINTER. How do you feel that this book represents your evolution as a writer?
Like a lot of my stories, the inspiration for an idea is completely random. I never sit down to write; I never get writer’s block. Stories generally seek me out and haunt me until I give them life, so there’s an element of profound release during the writing process. Like George R.R. Martin said, “I don’t enjoy writing. I enjoy having written.” In the case of MEMORIES OF WINTER, it began with my daughter, who was 8 at the time. She was having difficulty remembering to bring home her homework. I decided to utilize the classic method of tying a string around one’s finger, but I substituted the string and finger for a bracelet and a wrist. I was hoping that seeing the bracelet throughout the day would serve as a reminder to put her homework in her backpack. As I was explaining this to her one night, another voice in the back of my mind began whispering how this idea could be turned into a story. As far as how it helped me to evolve as a writer, I don’t generally spend this much time in the modern world. I prefer villages in the Middle Ages, and early American colonies. I like these simpler time periods and settings, because they allow the heart of the story to shine through. There tends to be less to be distracted by technology, pop-culture, etc. MEMORIES OF WINTER takes place in the present day, and I had to write about things like school and school life. I was definitely out of my comfort zone, and it’s the only book I’ve written where I had to go back and rewrite the ending, because I wasn’t satisfied the first time around. As I said before, these stories seek me out; I don’t go looking for them, so they have a tendency to write themselves. The characters tell me what they want to do, and how they want to do them, and I rarely have any say in the matter. The last chapter of WINTER, however, required me to step in, and say, “No, we need to do it THIS way, because your way was a little anticlimactic and abrupt.”
3) You are quite prolific, and have also written for children and adults. Can you briefly compare and contrast these disciplines? Also, what would you say to aspiring writers who are trying to both find their voice and achieve a sense of balance?
As I said before, I never set out to write a story. I generally get an idea, and I have to decide in what format and genre the idea would best thrive. When I was writing strictly picture books for young children, the biggest decision I had to make was whether to tell the story as a poem. If I were to advise another writer, I would probably suggest letting the story happen naturally, and never to force it. I could never imagine sitting down to my computer and saying, “Today I’m going to write a romance story set in Victorian England,” and then expect an acceptable and believable story to unfold. To me, that’s forcing an idea, and chances are it’ll sound that way to others who read it. If you’re a writer, then you’re a writer, which encompasses many subjects and styles. Famous authors like Stephen King write mainly in one genre, because it’s likely his preferred genre to write in, but also because that’s the genre he’s most known for. If Stephen King had an idea for a romance novel, yes, some people might be inclined to read it, but others might be turned off. My favorite author, Neil Gaiman, has managed to achieve mainstream success, while not pigeonholing himself into any one genre. He can write a fantasy novel as easily as he can write a horror story, or a fairy tale. These authors, however, are few and far between. As an unknown, I’m basically free to write anything I want. I don’t have diehard fans or a publisher to answer to. The same goes for aspiring writers. Explore every genre and find out into which genres and categories your ideas best fit. Along the way, you may notice a pattern, all of your ideas tend to be horror, or mystery, or even realism. I would suggest not trying to write in any one genre, but to let the idea decide. A fight with your imagination is a losing battle, and when you let the creativity flow naturally, the results are always better. Always.
4) In addition to serving as the inspiration for EDENISMS, how has fatherhood influenced your writing? What do you hope that your daughter might garner from your literary legacy once she’s old enough to appreciate it?
I began writing my fantasy novel, “Gabriel Thorn: A Faerie Tale,” before Eden was born. Otherwise, with the exception of one or two others, everything I’ve published was written after, and in some way has been influenced or inspired by her. Either the story was written with Eden’s interests in mind, or was based on something she did or said. I never thought in a million years I would ever write anything for children, of any age. That alone is the most significant way becoming a father has changed me as a writer. I have a new audience, where before I wanted to write scary stories for adults. My idols once consisted of Edgar Allen Poe, Poppy Z. Brite, Anne Rice, Nancy Collins, and Neil Gaiman. Now I’ve added Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, and J.K. Rowling to the list. As far as what I hope Eden will take from these books, I hope she sees how much she was loved, adored, and worshiped by me. How profoundly and wonderfully she affected my life, shaped and molded it into something worth living. I hope she sees herself in every story, looks deep into the cracks and crevices and sees her own young self, peeking out, because she’s there. I want her to be proud of me, as I’m proud of her, and I hope these books give her some insight into who her father really was.
5) In looking back, what are the greatest lessons you’ve learned through creative expression, and, in looking forward, what is your greatest literary ambition?
Trust your instincts. Never compromise the integrity of an idea. Be the audience as often as you are the performer, and understand and appreciate the nature of each. Everyone has a creative voice, and the hardest part is discovering in which form that voice will manifest. Are you a writer, a musician, a poet, a sculptor, or a painter? Sometimes you think you’re one, and then many years later realize you’re another. Everyone has a story. The most difficult part is finding the courage to tell it. Right now, Eden can sing and play the piano very well, and at such a young age; however, she’s terrified of performing in front of anyone. I told her that’s like being able to fly, but afraid of heights. Never deny your gifts. They’re called gifts for a reason. Talent should be nurtured and explored. And if you’re a writer, write. It sounds complicated, but it’s really that simple. As far as my greatest literary ambition, aside from someday doing this as a full-time career, is to simply be remembered. And I’d prefer to be remembered because I wrote something that truly enhanced or changed someone’s life. It’s never about sales in the monetary sense, but the idea of reaching out to many people and affecting them with something I’ve written. I don’t want to merely be a distraction, or an escape from reality. I want them to learn something about themselves that they never knew before, or understand something about themselves because I helped put it into perspective. The first time I read “Interview With the Vampire,” something changed in me, and I’ve never been the same since. In fact, the idea of possibly not having read that book terrifies me. I doubt I’ll ever write anything of that caliber, but to me, as a writer, that has to be the greatest reward. Not writing a bestseller, but simply touching someone that deeply and profoundly, to the point where they’re never the same person again.
6) Finally, leave us with a teaser: what comes next?
Like any good madman, I’ll continue to obey the voices in my head. If more stories want to come out, then they’ll be written. As usual, however, I have nothing planned. In the meantime, I’ve written over 30 books in four years, a few of which are receiving the finishing touches as we speak. One of them is a children’s picture book called A MOONFLOWER GROWS BY THE ROADSIDE, which is illustrated by Christopher Mamone (aka Tourniquet Jones). He and I did one other book together called GREEDY GUTS, and he’s done a couple of book covers for me as well. MOONFLOWER is about two races of Elves, who collect animal remains from the side of the road, each for very different reasons, and the predicament they face when their territories shrink and they begin laying claim to the same remains. I’d like to do more school readings and less promotional events. The best time I ever had at any book event was reading GREEDY GUTS to 125 fifth graders at Judson Elementary School in Waterbury. The Q & A afterward was so interesting and entertaining; it really let me know how fulfilling writing can be, and in a way I never imagined.
Printed in September 16th 2013 edition of the "Hartford Books Examiner"
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The Milford Patch
May 9th 2013A Chat w/Milford Author Anthony Paolucci
"To this day, my appetite for reading is insatiable, and I’m always hoping to be as moved as I was by those classics. I didn’t begin my foray into writing, however, until I was in high school."
How did you first get involved in the arts?
I would have to go as far back as second grade. Seeing that I loved to read, my mother bought me all the classics: Moby Dick, Oliver Twist, Tom Sawyer, etc.
Mind you, these were the children’s editions and not the originals, but they were still over 200 pages long. At the time, I had no idea they were literature, or anything important. To me, they were simply great stories, and I wanted more.
To this day, my appetite for reading is insatiable, and I’m always hoping to be as moved as I was by those classics. I didn’t begin my foray into writing, however, until I was in high school.
I discovered Jim Morrison, and for the first time I felt validated as an odd and socially awkward teen who liked to write poetry. I was a good student, but only because I didn’t have to try.
At this time, I had strict plans to be a rock star, and school was merely something that I had to do. As far as I was concerned, the only place writing had in my future was in writing song lyrics.
Then in my junior year something significant happened. My English teacher had assigned us a project. He wanted us to illustrate a song using magazine pictures, and we would put them on an overhead projector as the song was playing.
The idea was that it was supposed to be a music video. I wasn’t a fan of the project, so I simply picked a song that had a lot of images in it: “One in a Million” by Guns N Roses. The song is about the singer’s first impression of Los Angeles. Being from the Midwest, it was quite a culture shock.
Unfortunately, there were some offensive words in the song and my teacher gave me a bad grade. Other students that hadn’t put as much effort into the project, however, received an A. I was outraged, but my idea of rebelling was to simply stop trying in his class.
Naturally, I failed English and had to go to summer school. This had never happened before, so it was really upsetting. Not only was summer school infringing upon my two months of freedom, but I had a girlfriend who I couldn’t see because I was stuck in a classroom.
The first assignment was a narrative. I vowed to write something that would make an impression, yet would also communicate my anger and resentment for being there. The story I wrote was intentionally offensive, and somewhat graphic.
The teacher read it right away and asked to see me after class. Class ended, and she asked if I had written the story or had gotten the idea from somewhere else. I assured her it was mine and that I had come up with it in class that morning.
She then did something I didn’t expect: she praised it. Though the content was, in my mind, lewd and inappropriate, I guess I had pulled back just enough, and thrown enough of a poetic/romantic flair on it, to make it somewhat tasteful.
The teacher then said she intended to show the Assistant Director, who was an English major like her and would likely appreciate it. The Assistant Director praised it as well, and asked if she could show it to the teacher who ran the school literary magazine. I was too nervous to say no, so I complied.
Fast forward to the beginning of my senior year, and not only did the literary magazine want it, this teacher wanted me to be on the committee. All I could think was “This isn’t what was supposed to happen.”
I was trying to rebel, express my anger, and it was completely backfiring, yet in a strangely positive way. So the story goes into the magazine, the magazine is printed, and eventually distributed one morning during homeroom. By noon that same day, it was recalled.
I had upset so many teachers that they had planned to retract every copy and redistribute it without my story. Teachers that had liked me for 4 years wouldn’t even so much as look at me in the hall, but students who I had never talked to before were suddenly saying hello.
At first, everyone refused to hand in their copies, and a couple of the students even wanted me to sign theirs. Then the school said that anyone who didn’t hand in their copy would receive 3 days suspension, and that was the end of that. From this experience, I saw for the first time the power that writing had, and how differently it could affect different people. In this particular situation, I had caused this. With a few minutes of writing, I had impacted an entire school.
I was very shy, and didn’t have many friends, so this was quite an accomplishment. Still committed to the rock & roll dream, however, I wouldn’t get serious about writing until my daughter was born, fifteen years later. I wanted to write stories that she would enjoy, and she was constantly inspiring me with her comments and questions.
Having worked in book stores for years, and avoiding the children’s department at all costs, this was new and frightening territory. Yet I did it, and learned more about the craft in those first few years than in all the years I had been writing. Those books evolved into stories for older children, and now I believe I’ve found my niche: the Young Adult genre. A person’s teen years are the most terrifying and exciting ones of their lives. They’re simultaneously saying farewell to their childhood and welcoming adulthood. They’re right on the cusp of maturity.
To me, there’s enough freedom to write about topics that are more grown up, but the target audience is still young enough to appreciate silly humor and magical creatures. You can write about these things in other genres as well, but in the Young Adult genre there’s still a certain innocence, and everyone can relate to and understand the trials and tribulations of adolescence, perhaps more so than they can those of adulthood.
What is your latest project?
I always have a multitude of books in the works. Even after writing and publishing over 20 titles in four years, I seem to get the opposite of writer’s block and can never turn my brain off. Ideas hit me at all different times, for all different reasons, even in my sleep. At the moment, I have 6 picture books being illustrated, and two Young Adult novellas being proofread called “Memories of Winter,” which takes place in Milford, and “The Reckoning of St. Valentine.”
Currently, I’m promoting one of my favorite Young Adult titles, “Creatureton Elementary,” a Harry Potter meets Monster High kind of story, and “Deathly Pale,” a Young Adult vampire story, which was actually illustrated by my cousin’s 15 year old daughter Kaylee. I have a whole list of events and appearances coming up this year, all of which are mentioned on my website: anthonypaolucci.webs.com.
What advice do you wish you'd received
when you first got started?
Know who you are as a writer, accept it with every fiber of your being, and then be that writer. For many years, I tried to imitate my idols: Edgar Allan Poe, Neil Gaiman, Anne Rice, which led to a sort of identity crisis. I was trying too hard to copy their style without devoting any time to finding my own literary voice. This isn’t something that is learned easily or quickly. You have to keep writing until your voice evolves into something personal and unique, which it eventually will if you persevere.
Who are some local artists people should check out?
There are so many authors and artists from the area that deserve recognition. For writers, there’s Suzanne Palmieri, Jennifer Recupero Mamone, my aunt Ann Pasko, and Michelle Reynolds Hydeck, to name a few. Artists, many of whom I’ve worked with, there’s Matthew Fletcher, Christopher Mamone, Kaylee Velez, Vincent Vernacatola, Robert J. Beam Jr. , Maya Szatai, Stephanie Hammond, Albert Lopez, Liza Sivek, I could go on.
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Teen’s Passion for Art Illustrated in New Book
Friday, May 10, 2013
By Luke Marshall, Staff Writer
Woodland Regional High School sophomore Kaylee Velez, 16, holds a copy of “Deathly Pale” by Anthony Paolucci in her home May 1. Velez created the illustrations for the book. Velez and Paolucci will be signing copies of the book from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Saturday at the Beacon Falls Public Library.
BEACON FALLS: A local teen has a drawn blood for a new book.
Woodland Regional High School sophomore Kaylee Velez, 16, created all of the artwork for “Deathly Pale,” a novel by Anthony Paolucci of Milford.
“Deathly Pale” is about vampires and humans who are able to coexist peacefully until a disaster begins to threaten that harmony, Paolucci explained. He described the story as a paranormal romance.
Paolucci said he asked Velez to do the illustrations for his book because he was impressed with her talent.
“She had drawn a picture for my daughter, and it was apparent that she had a gift. She approached me about doing a book last year, and I had just started writing ‘Deathly Pale.’ When I reviewed some of her work on Facebook, I realized how much she had grown talent wise and agreed to a project right away,” Paolucci said.
Velez said Paolucci suggested what scenes he would like to have drawings for and, after she read the book, she drew what she imagined. She drew seven pictures for the book in total.
She drew them as they inspired her, not necessarily in chronological order with the story.
“All of them I did out of order and took my time with them,” Velez said.
Velez is no stranger to the artistic world, and has had a passion for creating artwork since the age of 5.
“I started getting into drawing and, since then, never stopped,” Velez said.
Velez said she began honing her drawing style after a friend introduced her to anime, a Japanese style of drawing.
“I thought the style looked really neat so I started practicing it around sixth grade. Then I tried developing my own style,” Velez said.
Her preferred method of creating artwork is with PaintTool SAI, a computer painting program, which she used to design and create all of the artwork in the book.
“I mostly do stuff on the computer, but when I’m at school or somewhere I can’t access one I draw in a sketchbook,” Velez said.
When she is not drawing vampires for Paolucci’s book Velez prefers to draw fantasy creatures such as dragons, angels, and demons. However, she does not want to limit herself and has recently been trying her skills at realism.
Paolucci and Velez will both be at the Beacon Falls Library from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday to sign copies of the “Deathly Pale.”
in May 10th 2013 edition of the "Citizen's News"
* * *A Father’s Day tribute: Opening day
By Anthony Paolucci on June 13, 2014
My grandfather died on November 19, 2008. Born Alexander Paolucci, this master fisherman was known among his family and friends as “The Bass Hunter.”
My father was the only son of five children; therefore, his relationship with my grandfather was different than that of his sisters.
They were best friends, two strong links in a long family chain. When I was old enough, I was introduced to fishing. Being five years old at the time, I was a casualty of impatience.
I had an Atari waiting for me at home, and a slew of Star Wars toys just begging to be played with. Yet, I could never deny the thrill of seeing a bobber plunge beneath the surface, or the sudden jerk of a pole.
Fishing with my grandfather was both an exciting and stressful endeavor. There was the pressure of catching a fish, but there was also the stress of catching one before my grandfather threw his line in the water.
Fishing with my father was slightly different, yet no less memorable. A gifted storyteller, he enjoyed reciting tales of past excursions with his own father, tips and advice that my grandfather had given him, and stories about his uncles in Pennsylvania who could give us all a run for our money.
I always knew he
wanted me to fall in love with the sport as deeply and as easily as he had
done, so he was careful to make it a pleasurable experience.
He expressed his disappointment colorfully whenever we left empty handed, but he always vowed to one day return and make up for it.
The ride home was spent recalling previous trips where the day had proven bountiful, as if he was trying to reassure me that people do actually catch fish sometimes.
All the regaling and bonding aside, anyone could see the true essence of these experiences for what they really were.
It was the celebration and honoring of a family tradition, the reinforcing of old links in the family chain. Stories of these experiences were being written on the face of our family history, which those of us who participated would recollect over time.
When my grandfather died, my father underwent a profound change. He was 60 years old and suddenly without his best friend and mentor.
My father had lost contact with a lot of his old chums, and my brother and I were busy with our own lives. For the first time in his life, after having lost his mother only a few years prior, my father was alone.
He still had his sisters, with whom he was close, but his role model and lifelong companion was gone.
The one act in which he found the greatest solace was fishing.
My father was in mourning, and he was desperate to connect with his late father. When he asked me to go fishing on opening day, my father also mentioned taking my daughter to the Milford Fishing Derby the following month.
I knew that this was more than a casual invitation. In each of these outings, he was both mourning and celebrating his father. By strengthening his relationship with his son and granddaughter through a treasured family pastime, he was keeping his father alive; he was keeping him close.
Opening day was spent listening to stories about my father and grandfather, both humorous and endearing.
I listened attentively, appreciatively, asking questions when necessary, and always expressing my sincere interest.
In his tales, I could feel my grandfather’s presence, as I’m sure my father did as well.
On the drive home, my father beamed with fond reminiscence of trips past, as he recounted every funny mishap and impressive haul in vivid and entertaining detail.
I could almost see the pain lifting away from his heart and knew the healing had officially begun. He had learned how to cope with his grief in a way that made sense to him, but more so, he had learned how to survive his loss emotionally and spiritually.
My father had
connected with his past and present through a seemingly lost family art, and in
doing so rejoiced in the memory of a legendary fisherman, the fabled Bass
Printed in May 29th 2014 edition of the "Milford Mirror"