What do you read that people wouldn’t expect you to read?
Maybe because I’m a children’s and young adult author and I’m female, people might not expect that I read the sports section every day; I am a baseball fanatic and love the backstories of every game and the human drama involved. Many sportswriters are very entertaining and they know how to spin a tale and engage readers. When I was a kid, I loved playing softball, even though I wasn’t all that good at it. At least I was fast! I had my own glove and bat, which was kind of different for a girl back then (think living in the Middle Ages). In Secrets in Translation, Alessandra is a good tennis player, but she doesn’t play tennis in the main part of the plot; it only helps her make friends when she moves to the U.S. after having grown up in Italy. Playing any kind of sport can bridge lots of cultural gaps and can bring people together. Reading about them broadens horizons.
Are you fluent in any other languages? If so, do you find that knowledge has any effect on your writing? Is it important for people to learn other languages? Why?
Anything that helps us to understand and connect with others is important, and learning other languages is most definitely a window into other people and different cultures. The way we express ourselves in our languages is hardwired into our brains, and if we can speak other languages, we can have insights into the thought processes of other people that we otherwise wouldn’t have. I loved writing Secrets in Translation, because I could use my Italian, which I began speaking when I grew up in Southern Italy as a little girl. It made me feel at home again! I speak other languages, as well, but Italian is the language of my heart.
For our authors who use non-English vocabulary or passages in their work, how do you feel doing so enriches the story, the setting, or your characters?
The fact that the main character, Alessandra, speaks Italian, gives her the “inside track” for her experience in Positano. The family that employs her as a nanny trusts her translation, the Italians she meets are affected in many surprising ways by her knowledge, and her Italian language is the key to solving the mystery she confronts in Positano and, most important, the key to making a discovery about herself.
What surprising skills or hobbies do you have?
I play the guitar and sing country music. Well. I try. ?
What’s your favorite joke?
Ole wore both of his winter jackets when he painted his house last July. The directions on the can said “put on two coats”…. I know. It’s not Italian, but I’m married to a Norwegian, and this is a typical Norwegian Ole joke. ?
Do you view your current genre as being your one and only, or are you tempted to try your hand at others? If so or it not, why so, or why not?
I have been published in different genres, primarily for young readers from 4 to 18. It is so much fun to play with words that I can’t really say one genre is my favorite. The story just develops and takes its own form; it’s out of my control. I’ll bet most authors would say the same about what they’re writing. I’d been wanting to write about Alessandra for a long time, and, after one of my return visits to Italy, her story just came to me. With the help of my friends in Italy who guided my research, it took shape. Italy is a beautiful country and the people are warm and generous, a wonderful place to make the kind of discovery that Alessandra is finally able to make, and I hope it resonates with readers of all ages.
Author of twenty-eight traditionally-published books, Margo Sorenson spent the first seven years of her life in Spain and Italy, devouring books and Italian food. A former middle and high school teacher, Margo has won national recognition and awards for her books, including ALA Quick Pick Nominations, recommendations from Multicultural Review, and being named a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award in YA Fiction.