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 Our Interview with Marci Alborghetti


What is your favorite Bible verse?

Psalm 46:10: Be still and know that I am God.

What was your inspiration for writing in the CBA market?

I feel that the CBA market welcomes books about families - novels and memoirs - and that the CBA readers understand that every family has its problems and joys, its failures and successes, its troubles and its times of peace.  My story is not a story of perfection, but of seeking and redemption.  I also felt that the CBA  market would enjoy a story about the trials and tribulations of a very extended Italian family with all the geographical reach and tradition.

What inspired the concept for The Christmas Glass?

I love Christmas!  I always have, from childhood, and I have many, many Christmas books and ornaments myself.  One of the books describes the original ornament-making process from the mid-1800s, and this started me thinking about what might happen to 12 ornaments created with such intense love and meticulous workmanship.

Is any part of The Christmas Glass factual? 

Not completely, but the characters and most of the locations are based on people I know and places I've lived or visited.   Some of the ornaments are based on my own.  The character of Filomena is physically based on my great-grandmother ... although she was a bit less vocal than Filomena!   Thank God!

How closely is The Christmas Glass based on your life experiences? 

Parts of the book are lifted from my own experiences:  visits to Manhattan at Christmas time, the incessant emphasis on food - very Italian!, decorating the trees, etc.  The character of Pastor Luke is based on the pastor in Bodega Bay who married my husband, Charlie, and I.  Much to do with the core family in their "Italian-ness" comes from my own family experiences.

How did you choose the location for the setting?

I've lived in or visited all the American locations, so I had a good sense of them in their physicality and beauty.  The places in Italy I chose for the nature of the story and then researched them.  I have good friends from West Africa and Ghana, so I had a sense of that culture and those places.  I really picked their brains!  On Haiti, I wrote a biography of missionary who works in Jeremie, so I know a great deal about that area.

How long did The Christmas Glass take you to complete?

Seven months ... and a whole lifetime before those seven months!

Do you have a favorite character in The Christmas Glass? Why?

Olivia is my favorite character, probably because she is so wise, and yet so put upon!  Everyone needs something from her, and yet few realize what she needs because she is private about herself.  She is very much like my women friends from West Africa: dignified, faithful, strong, funny.  I also love Laurie, the second child of Mark and Serena because she is such a funny kid; also, in my mind, Laurie is so forthright, she could be the one to break free of the family tangles and live a fully honest life.

How much research did The Christmas Glass take?

Lots!  Even though I'd been to most of these places, I had to go back and look at street names, locations, dates, facilities, stores, etc.  Also, the sweep of time in the novel, from the 1940s to 2000 required a great deal of research.  Historically, there was a lot I needed to check on.  For example, I needed to know everything about Italy's role in WWII, about Cuba and Castro, about Accra in Ghana.  When you write a book filled with so many cultural backgrounds, you need to know details about those cultures.  I had to read up on the tradition of the Christmas Posadas in Mexico.  And much of the research didn't even make it into the novel, factually, but I needed it for background.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing The Christmas Glass?

Probably that many Italians were not enamored of Mussolini, and in fact resented and despised him.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

Getting published!  All joking aside, the publishing industry is shrinking and with this economy, it is more and more difficult to even get a hearing or a proposal looked at.  The Christmas Glass is my twelfth book, and it still isn't easy.


What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love every part of the actual writing.  I love the research.  I love living with the charaters and concept for the time I'm writing.  I even love editing.  I'm not a great speaker, so I've always communicated through writing.  It feels very natural to me.

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write ³by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in between?)

Outline!  Outline!  Outline!  I am very methodical.  Once I get an outline done, I'm set!  After I do the outline, I will go back and make notes under the headings as idea occur to me.  By the time I actually start to write, I pretty much know where I'm going. 

Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

Yes!  Sometimes my characters will surprise me by doing something I hadn't intended.  Or sometimes they will do something that is just perfect for them, but I hadn't really thought about it or planned it.  In The Christmas Glass, the little girl, Laurie was constantly making me laugh.  Also, I find that my characters sometimes "soften" themselves, and that makes them more human.  For example, Filomena can be a pretty exasperating character, but along the way, I found her doing things that showed her humanity.  In the chapter, Mark, when Serena loses her temper, that scene took on a life of its own, and at the end, she was a much more interesting character.

Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

To be honest, I'd have to say the Bible influenced me the most.  The rich story-telling, the themes that are inherent in every life, the language, the lessons, the various styles of writing and story-telling.  It has everything you need to know about writing!  I started reading it as a child ... and haven't stopped.  Each re-reading teaches me something new.

What message would you like your readers to take from The Christmas Glass?

When it comes to family and close relationships, our first goal should be ... Do no harm!  Seriously, I want readers to enjoy the humor, the sorrow, even the machinations of the characters, but to come away with the idea that God has a plan and our job is to figure out how best to fit into it regardless of what the people around us may expect.  Also, that forgiveness is always necessary, again and again and again in families.

What is your greatest achievement?

God knows.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

To make the lives of my readers a little better, a little happier, a little freer.  To give them a rest from their own lives.  To help them trust God.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I'm still trying to figure that out!  Actually, I seldom want to get away from it all.  My life is really interesting and sometimes too intense, but I think that's what God wants from me for the most part.  And He's given me an extraordinary affinity for solitude which allows me to get away from it all ... right in the middle of it all sometimes.  My husband says I'm like a hedgehog ... I can hide right in broad daylight.  Also, I walk seven or eight miles a day, and that helps with the writing and the spirit.


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