Q & A with
Maria Vezzetti Matson
Questions I’ve been asked by Children
…and I’m happy to answer!
Q: Where were you born?
A: I was born in Hancock, Michigan. I call myself an Italian American Yooper.
Q: What is a Yooper?
A: Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary on Monday, March 24, 2014, officially defined the word as a native resident of the Upper Peninsula.
Q: Why do you write about copper mining in Michigan?
A: Mining copper and iron ore during the turn of the twentieth century was a profitable industry—immigrants from many countries arrived and worked in the wilds of northern Michigan. I love the history related to my hometown areas.
Q: Why did you use the name Gelsomina?
A: Gelsomina, or Jennie, was a real person. She was my mother’s mother, and I knew her very well. We all lived in South Range, Michigan.
Q: Who encouraged you to write a story about Jennie?
A: My mother was proud of her family’s history and accomplishments. She was a great storyteller, and I wrote those stories into a book, Gelsomina’s Story in 2011. It was a story worth telling.
Q: When did you begin writing books?
A: As a teacher, I created many books to use in classrooms. One of my favorites is a children’s picture book that I call a physics fiction story. A dot travels through the Land of Hue. Sir Issac Newton’s Theory of Color is proven. At this time, Gelsomina’s travel history in 1902 to America is the basis for a new middle-grade book. Jennie, her American name, comes alone to Michigan from Italy. I started writing this story because I wanted children to learn about a different time period in America.
Q: What is the hardest part of writing a story?
A: The storyline and writing come quickly for me. The hardest part is rewriting and rewriting for clarification, imagery, historical facts, and grammar. Avi, one of my favorite authors, claims he rewrites 80 times.
Q: Who is your favorite character in the story you're working on now?
A: Jennie is first, and then it’s a ten-year-old boy’s mother. She is intolerant, rude, bias, and bossy. Tristen, her son, understands and shares the reason with Jennie–it’s the mother’s fear of the unknown. Jennie dealt with worries and anxiety in a very different way. I hope readers see the contrast and think about it in the unique way people may react.
Q: What happens next in your writing life?
A: I’ve started another book with Jennie as the protagonist. She and I are dreaming up plots.
Q: Where do you write your stories?
A: My office is a small desk in my kitchen. I can look out a window and see rolling hills that remind me of Tuscany. My pets sit quietly nearby.
Usually, I have a photo of Gelsomina next to me. She “nudges” me on.
Questions I’ve been asked by Adults
Q: How do I ever begin to become a memoirist?
A: If you start recording your memories, you can call yourself a memoirist. Writing down memories is an act of love and can be FUN. Start with paper and pencil, a tape recorder or a video camera. Just start recording.
Q: Where can I go for information?
A: If you no longer have a living resource, find a personal journal or vintage photo books, there may be historical records available to you online. Don’t forget to use your local museums or search for archival records.
Q: What is an easy way to get organized?
A: Don’t worry about writing format now, recording information on separate papers and titling them make for easy identification later.
Q: Who should I interview?
A: Consider family members, friends, and relatives. Find photos (respect copyright laws), write captions, dates, and names. Perhaps you’ll find nuggets of wisdom to share with grandchildren.
Q: When and how do I get it published into a best seller?
A: I’m still working on that answer; however, do get your story written down. Your first draft won’t be perfect, so let it rest and go back and rethink, rewrite, add more detail, clarify and do the best you can. You might want someone to check grammar and spelling. Are you having FUN yet?
You can print out your finalized memoir at home, get it professionally reproduced, or make it available through the computer to others. There are many sources online to help you print your work. Sit back and enjoy, you’re now a true memoirist.
See…wasn’t that FUN?