Paperback Writer introduces our author today, Stella Mazzucchelli, author of the biography/psychology book, Silk Flowers Never Die (Dynasty Press Ltd, October ’09), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in October on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!
About the Book: Silk Flowers Never Die is an important and intensely personal memoir, powerfully showing with humanity and humor, the difficulties that exist for any family trying to cope with schizophrenia and mental distress. In a compelling story that reveals how much stranger than fiction fact is, Stella Mazzucchelli describes her determination to preserve her son from the worst effects of mental illness, while his young wife is dying of cancer.
In the process of trying to rise to these challenges, Stella is transformed from a beautiful, over-protected Society woman with alcohol issues, to an impressive, courageous earth-mother who now campaigns to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness by using her privileged position to positive effect. This moving book is informative on a host of subjects, ranging from the lifestyle of the International Super-Rich to the profundities of facing terminal illness and mental disease. Due to its intelligence, insight, and compassion the appeal of this amazing story and struggle should be universal.
Welcome to Paperback Writer and thank you for joining us today.
Q: Would you share with us how you came up with the idea for your book?
A: I had an urge to share the devastation I felt when my son was diagnosed with schizophrenia and reassure those who were in a similar position as mine that they were not alone. To those who have no idea what a family lives through, I wanted to enlighten them on: the loneliness and secrecy accompanying mental illnesses, the anguish of seeing loved ones plucked out of a normal world and without warning descend into one of voices, phobias and torment. I believe that it is through lack of knowledge that society shies away from the word “schizophrenia”. I know, I was one them until it happened to my son. I’m sure that by lifting the cloak of ignorance that surrounds mental illness, we will help reduce people’s fear and highlight the fact that the majority of sufferers are sensitive and talented human beings. My son happens to be one of those giving persons. Not only did he cope with his own illness, he managed to nurse his wife Naomi after the birth of their daughter when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My aim is to nudge away the darkness so that mental illness can be seen in a more compassionate and gentle manner. I felt that the quickest way to make myself heard was through my writing. That was the beginning of ‘Silk Flowers Never Die’.
Q: Was it a light bulb moment or something that you thought about for a very long time?
A: My drinking was something I knew I needed to change. The hangovers and my blurry mind impeded my abilities.
Q: How did you come up with the title?
A: The title was the easiest, I came upon it even before I started the first page. My son and his Japanese wife Naomi were both of the Buddhist faith and staunch believers in Feng Shui. One of Feng Shui’s principal rules is to never offer fresh flowers to a patient, because if a bud tilts its head and withers it brings bad luck. Even dried flowers are a bad omen as they were once alive and of course are now dead. Therefore, wanting to offer Naomi (my daughter-in-law) a gift during her last days of terminal cancer in the hospital was a very difficult task. She no longer ate, clothes were unnecessary and reading was out of the question. Scouting the area close to the hospital, I came upon a quaint little boutique that offered scents, candles and colorful objects. The moment I spotted a cluster of silk Lillis I thought ‘Silk flowers never die’ and of course bought an enormous bouquet. Little did I know that according to Naomi’s Japanese belief, if one took silk flowers to a patient in the hospital, it meant that he or she would never leave alive.
Q: How did you find an agent and publisher?
A: Through a friend.
Q: Who reads your work in progress?
A: I test it on my friends and my mother, who unfortunately passed away before my book was published.
Q: Who made a difference in the book’s quality?
A: I think I would have to give credit to my mother and son for assisting me with the quality of the book.
Q: How long did it take you to complete the first draft?
A: If I’m not mistaken a couple of years. I did not have the luxury of writing without the telephone ringing, loads of kids gallivanting around and my dog wanting to sit on my lap.
Q: How long did it take from start to publication?
A: It took five years. If I had tucked myself away in a silent and calm environment, I am sure that it would not have taken me that long.
Q: Do you have any advice for new authors?
A: Do not doubt yourself. If you have a story to tell, tell it with “heart”. Don’t try and impress people with incredibly long words, move fast and be sincere. Most people prefer simplicity instead of having to reach for a dictionary to decipher a meaning.
Thank you, Stella for stopping by Paperback Writer on your virtual book tour. I wish you continued success through the rest of you tour.
About The Author:
Stella Metaxa Mazzucchelli was born in Athens, Greece and married, aged eighteen, Riccardo Mazzucchelli, the famous Italian businessman. During their twenty-two year marriage, they lived in Zambia and London, where she became a well-known figure on the social scene, and had a brief and successful modeling career at the unusual age of 28. Fedele is their only child. After their divorce, Riccardo married Ivana Trump in 1995, though the marriage was short lived. Stella now lives in Athens where she brings up her granddaughter Katerina. As well as being involved in the property and renovation business, which ensures she maintains connections with London, she is also a tireless campaigner for the better understanding of schizophrenia and mental illness. Silk Flowers Never Die is her first book.