Award-winning author Tony Romano likes to write about things that disappear. His books focus on families of Italian immigrants in the 1950s—When the World Was Young and If You Eat You Never Die. Tony has also published two textbooks. He was born in Italy and moved to Chicago with his family when he was eleven months old. He now lives in Glen Ellyn, IL, with his wife and teaches English. Fourth grader Samantha Valente was happy to interview Tony last June in our BuddingWriters workshop.
Q: How did you get started writing?
I got started writing because I wasn’t able to swim. As a kid everyone in the neighborhood would go down to Lake Michigan and swim. But I was never able to go because I wasn’t able to swim. So I sat on my front porch and read comic books and that’s what got me started as a writer.
Q: How do you get your ideas about what to write?
It’s difficult to say where writing ideas come from. It’s like asking people why they had a certain dream the night before. That would be hard to answer but at night the dreams are random. While writing, ideas arise, almost like dreams! Maybe not as random, but still, it’s hard to say where the ideas come from.
Q: How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for 50 years. I’ve been doing it for so long because I love it.
Q: Where is your favorite place to write?
Sometimes I like to go down to Panera in the mornings. I write there with my favorite purple pen and sometimes my laptop.
Q: Are you planning on writing any more books and if so, how many more would you like to write?
Yes, I’d like to write ONE more book. When that one is finished, I’ll want to write ONE more. And so on.
Q: Do you write any poetry?
I don’t write poetry. But I’d like to think that each sentence I write has poetic qualities.
Q: What is your favorite type of book and why?
My favorite type of book is a novel that explores family issues. I’ve also been reading a lot of biographies and histories. My most recent favorite is Valiant Ambition about George Washington and Benedict Arnold.
Q: Who is your favorite author and why?
That’s a tough question because I have so many. But probably Richard Russo. He makes me smile. And his books are full of wisdom.
Q: Do you like to doodle?
I do like to doodle. Sometimes I doodle when I’m writing something and I can’t think off what to come up with next. I will draw stars or other doodles on the paper on which I am writing.
Q: What do you do when you have writer’s block?
I guess I don’t believe in writers block. I think writing involves discipline. If anything, I’d call it lack of discipline or discipline block!
Q: How long does it take to get a book published?
For me, it takes at least a year to get a book published.
Q: If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
If I were not a writer I would probably be a rock star because I like the whole feeling of that.
Q: Do you have any advice for young writers?
Don’t let anyone discourage you.