Today we travel to Brooklyn, New York to chat with Andrew Cotto about how living in the hills south of Florence, being a Professor of English, The New York Times, martinis, Ernest Hemingway, Italian food and wine, being a rockstar, and having a sense of empathy come together as part of Andrew’s current and and past life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live and write in Brooklyn, New York. The city is my physical home as well as a source of much inspiration.
In which genre do you write?
My genres vary – including coming-of-age, noir, and upmarket/commercial – which is probably not the best strategy for building an audience, but I tell the stories that come to me in the style in which they arrive.
How many published books do you have?
As of now, I have three published novels with two more under contract to be released in the next six months.
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
My latest, Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure, came to me a dozen years after living in the hills south of Florence when writing my first novel. I don’t know why it took so long, though I suspect it had to do with just having enough command of the territory (which I acquired after many subsequent visits).
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I’m a Professor of English, and I also write articles for newspapers, magazines, and websites. The majority of my contributions are with The New York Times.
If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I don’t know about coffee or tea, but I’d like to have martinis and then a long, wine-soaked meal with Hemingway. I’m not sure what I’d ask him, but I imagine we’d get along well.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
I’m fairly surprised by the breadth of my interests. I’ve covered a lot of territory, in both fiction and journalism, and I like that.
What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?
I love the satisfaction that comes from telling a story well and the impact this can have on other people. It is among the best feelings in the world when someone says that they have been touched or honored by what I wrote.
List 3 interesting facts about yourself.
I’m a really good cook and am an expert in Italian food and wine.
I’m lots of fun at parties.
I’d choose being a rockstar over a writer in a second.
Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?
I’m not sure, but if I did, I’d say that my itinerant childhood is why I’m a writer since it provided me so many personal challenges and exposure to so many different types of people/environments. It provided me with plenty of time to use my imagination, required me to be resourceful and resilient, and fostered a sense of empathy.
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
I set this up with the previous answer…Empathy! Being able to relate on a profound level to the experiences of others is what allows for effective storytelling.
What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?
Another one that’s been alluded to…Italy is my favorite place to visit by far. I don’t want to go anywhere else. You want to go to Disney World or Hawaii? Fine. Knock yourself out. I’m going to Italy. I’ve channeled this love into my latest novel and its forthcoming sequel, as well as many of my articles, and I am certain I will go to my grave loving Italy like no other place on earth. I even hope to literally go to my grave there after I retire to Italy at some point or just move there regardless of age. It’s the lifestyle that’s so accessible in Italy: great food, wine, cultural experiences all among the most physically beautiful natural terrain on earth.
What are you currently working on?
I’m just putting the finishing touches on the Cucina Tipica sequel, which will take place mostly in Rome (the original is mostly Tuscany-based) and will be published in March of 2021. I’m also helping to provide some marketing help for a novel due this December, Black Irish Blues, which is a noir and a sequel to my second novel, Outerborough Blues: A Brooklyn Mystery. I’m really excited about both projects.
Tell us about your most recent book.
Cucina Tipica: An Italian Adventure is the story of a disheartened American who arrives in Italy on holiday and decides he never wants to leave. What follows is a food-filled, wine-soaked travel adventure about one man’s quest for an antiquated existence in the modern world.
It was great to have you on MTA, Andrew. I read the digital version of The New York Times, so I will keep an eye out for your articles. Cucina Tipica sounds like a wonderful book. I’m adding it to my list! Wishing you all the best in future books and travels! – Camilla
Where to find the book:
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and through any other bookseller.
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