We’ve replaced our Writer Of The Week feature with something new: Writer Of The Day!
This is because we’re celebrationg our 155th birthday issue by featuring seven brand new writers! The “Friend” has always been about supporting and encouraging writers and what better way than introducing a new writer a day for the rest of this week? Their stories all appear in this week’s very special birthday issue.
Let’s welcome our first debut author, Julie Blaho.
Tell us about your story “A Place To Call Home”.
Set in a forgotten town in the Italian Apennine Mountains, it’s a contemporary story about a widowed man’s fierce love for his hometown. However, his resistance to change complicates his relationship with his daughter. It explores inter-generational relationships and the bonding power of children.
Is the character of Ottavio based on a real person?
No, but hopefully, he’s as real on the page as he was in my head. Certain aspects of “A Place To Call Home” are based on true events, but until Ottavio showed up, I had no story to frame the facts. He appeared fully formed, stubborn and annoying. I was busy with other projects and didn’t want to dedicate the time, but he plagued my thoughts until I gave in and put him where he belonged.
How long have you been writing?
Around five years. I wanted to be a writer before attending university, but I was terrible at improv writing (and I still am). I’d sit and stare at the page while all my classmates scribbled. Convinced that I didn’t have what it took, I abandoned the idea and majored in Animal Science. It wasn’t until I turned fifty that I finally found the time and determination to return to my dream of becoming a writer.
Italy is also one of the main characters in the story. How did you make it so authentic?
I’m proud to call the Apennine Mountains my home. With this story, I wanted to share a part of Italy that’s dear to me. I’m American and I originally came to Italy for a job, but stayed because I fell in love with its culture, its beauty and its people–more specifically, my husband!
Family love and tradition are the heart of your story. Is this something close to your heart?
Oh my, yes, family is everything. I left home straight out of university, and maybe because my family is so far away, I treasure every moment I have with them and miss them every day. However, I’ve learned that the word ‘family’ can have many definitions and shouldn’t be limited to just relatives. I’m fortunate to have wonderful friends that I consider family.
What are your future writing plans?
I’ll continue to write flash fiction and short stories. I’m delighted at how welcoming “The People’s Friend” has been and I’d like to submit again in the near future. I also adore writing for children. I have a picture book out on submission and I’m eagerly waiting for news about the possibility of its publication. Fingers crossed! If you’d like to explore more of my work or connect further, you can find additional stories and updates on my website.