- by Karen Tintori
I’m a night person — the type who stays up way too late and then hates to abandon a comfy bed. I will lie there, repeating to myself that the hardest part about getting up is simply getting my feet on that floor. Yet, there are times when a new day dawns deliciously.
My subconscious has the habit of surprising me with inner dialogue that’s been off and running long before I manage to swim up from sleep. I relish tuning in to a conversation already in progress some two steps ahead of my conscious mind, usually catching up somewhere in the middle of chatter that got started without me during sleep. Since my mind is impossible to turn off during the daytime — trust me, I’ve tried mantras, meditation, white noise, music, and more – it truly shouldn’t surprise me that it doesn’t shut up even when I’m dead asleep.
Usually, these “first thing” thoughts are spilling forth the exact solution to a writing problem I’ve been wrestling with. Other times, the morning monologue is about some random person, errand, or project that has no bearing on what’s currently going on in my life.
This morning I came to consciousness halfway through the refrain of a television commercial jingle from my childhood: Two, two, two mints in one. (Yes, I’m facing a special birthday this fall, and no, I can’t recall the last time I’ve thought about: Certs is a breath minute. Certs is a candy mint. No — it’s two, two, two mints in one.) Brow wrinkled, I spent a few bemused moments wondering where that had come from, and then I realized my subconscious was suggesting the subject matter of my first NINC blog.
Certs and I have a lot in common.
I’m an author of fiction and nonfiction. I work with a partner and I work alone. And I am a dual citizen. Born and raised in the Detroit area, two years ago I reclaimed the Italian citizenship I never knew had passed down to me because my Sicilian grandfather had not yet become a naturalized U.S. citizen when my mom was born. The two of them would have gotten such a kick out of it.
Though I knew I wanted to be a writer since age twelve, I didn’t think in terms of books. I just loved to read and to write and wrote obsessively — diaries, letters, extra homework reports, and later stories about me, my friend Tara and the Beatles. Trained as a journalist in college, I wrote for magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and brochures during my career, before writing my first nonfiction book with my best friend of twenty-six years and writing partner, Jill Gregory. Little did I know my fiction career was a single book ahead of me.
Jill and I had so much fun working together — much more fun than working in solitude — she suggested we write contemporary women’s fiction together. I told her I didn’t do fiction, she insisted I sure could, and the next thing I knew we were writing SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING BLUE, a novel about four women about to be married, all of whom had secrets from their fiances. And then we wrote another, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.
Then, on my own, I wrote a nonfiction book, TRAPPED, about our country’s worst coal mine fire, a disaster I grew up hearing that my other grandfather had survived. Another nonfiction book, UNTO THE DAUGHTERS: The Legacy of an Honor Killing in a Sicilian-American Family, the story of a devastating secret kept in my mother’s family for more than eight decades followed last year, just months after THE BOOK OF NAMES, a hidden history thriller written with Jill. Our second hidden history thriller, THE ILLUMINATION, will be out in January, and we are busily plotting away on a third. And there’s another nonfiction book waiting for me to outline it, again a story discovered while working on my Italian genealogy.
Moving back and forth sometimes feels like I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up — but it’s nice to have the dual career, the freedom to move between fiction and nonfiction, to work with my best friend, line by line, word by word, laugh by laugh, and to also work alone. From a writer who thought of herself only as a journalist, I’ve grown comfortable in my novelist’s skin. Each facet of my writing life complements the other, and, with four novels under my belt I like to quip that my nonfiction writing is much richer now that I’ve got myself a novelist’s heart to go along with my journalist’s head.
For more about my books, please come visit my website: http://www.karentintori.com