I have been on the path of writing a trilogy for several years now, and it has been an excursion with many twists and turns with a massive journey of self-discovery. My first novel, Between the Cracks: one woman's journey from Sicily to America, was an homage to my great aunt who experienced the 1908 earthquake in Messina, but as I wrote the book I discovered there was more to the story. Her influence on three generation of Americans jumped out at me like a jack-in-the-box.
My second book, The Ascent, begins the the 1930's and ends in 1958. It chronicles the protagonist's life, Angela, after she looses one of the most significant people in her life her sister-in-law, Speranza. Angela arrives in America in 1912 from Palermo, Sicily with her new husband not knowing the language or having any connections except her husband, Franco, whom she really did not know very well. Franco immigrated from Sicily when he was twelve years old and had built a life for himself in America. After Angela falls ill and looses the ability to have children, she decides to help raise Speranza's children. Thus begins her influence on future generations.
Editing The Ascent has been a journey of moving deeper into the characters and observing what motivates their behavior. Angela's ability to grow and persevere in a changing environment both locally and globally has become a theme: the Italian community is in flux and World War II affects her life in the decade to come. Angela's ability to navigate difficult conditions and tragedy inspired her friends and family. She develops a dressmaking business that functions as a platform for Angela to connect with people who held a broader vision. Through her sewing she was able to reach beyond the confines of the Italian community and use her creativity to develop garments that transformed people into what the garment represented.
Her ability to transform people through the alchemy of sewing with intention is a theme theme I am now adding to the editing process. my novel have a primary theme of survival through creativity, but many sub-themes have reared their heads for attention. like most writers I adore new themes and ideas, but they can also be a writer's downfall. As i re-approach this second novel, I see many of the new themes will do well in the next book of the trilogy. Even though they persistently beckon to me like lost children, I put them aside reassuring them that they will have a voice in my next novel. Like characters, ideas and themes have personalities with a light and dark side. They are as multidimensional as characters you create and at some point they take on a life of their own.
As writers, we need to be in control of the world we create, but at a critical juncture the ideas and characters of the story we tell become co-creators of our story. It is finding that balance in the editing process that is the challenge. So, I hope you will come on that journey with me in my novels, not only is story telling the job of the novelist, but excavation of characters and ideas is critical to its success. Happy writing!
About the Author
Carmela Cattuti is the author of Between the Cracks and her next novel The Ascent will be available spring 2018. She received her graduate degree in English Literature from Boston College hosts an online talk show called Public Conversations. Join Carmela's online community at www.facebook.com/carmelacattuticreative. If you would like more detailed information about Carmela check out her website at www.ccattuticreative.com.