Seldom do I read more than one book written by a particular author, but when I met Margie Miklas and read her first book, Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair with Italy, I was hooked. As I read her story, I felt like I was right beside her every step of the way. I could smell the delicious Italian cuisine, hear the chiming of the village church bells, feel the roughness of the cobbles underneath my feet, and breath in the fresh Mediterranean breeze off the ocean during a dramatic sunset.
Her second memoir, My Love Affair with Sicily, is just as enticing. And she has recently come out with a third book which is very different from the first two. This one, Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast, is a beautiful hard-back book full of Margie’s own photos which are accompanied by snippets of her writing. This book will make you dream of Italy on cool Spring evenings when we begin to crave the warmth of the sun, the splash of Mediterranean waters, and the passeggiata accompanied by the aperitivo with friends. Red Bougainvillea that climb in lush clusters up the whitewashed walls of villas by the sea bring a sense of pleasure.
I met Margie on a recent trip to Italy and had the wonderful pleasure of traveling with her for most of it. She is a true lover of all things Italian and it shows. Her bright smile and kind words to the locals we met along the way won their hearts instantly. I am excited to introduce Margie to you in this author’s interview.
You have written two memoirs ~ how are they different from each other?
My first memoir is based on my blog which I wrote from Italy during my three month solo adventure in 2011. I never intended to write a book while I was blogging, but after I returned home I decided I had a lot more to say, so I decided to write the book. Hence it reads like a journal as I wrote it in the first person present tense. Readers tell me they feel as if they are traveling along with me in Italy. My second book, My Love Affair with Sicily, is written the same way, first person present tense, but it covers five separate trips to Sicily beginning with 2007 and ending with 2013. I traveled with others during these Sicily trips, so it’s different in that it’s not about solo travel.
What made you decide to write them? Did you plan them before you left for Italy, or after you returned?
As I explained, I didn’t plan to write the first book until I came home from Italy. And for the Sicily book, only the last section of the book, which is about my travels in 2013, was planned prior to my going to Italy that year. Since the Sicily book spans six years, the reader can see how I evolved in my appreciation for different foods, compared to my first book when all I wanted to eat was margherita pizza and pasta pomodoro.
What do your memoirs provide that are difficult to find in similar books on the market?
I think they provide a story told as if I’m having a conversation with you. While they can be considered a travelogue, I don’t write a lot about recommendations of places to eat or places to stay. Rather, I like to share my story about the out-of-the-way places and the challenges as well as funny things that happened along the way. Of course sprinkled within some of the stories are names of people and places with prices and instructions on how to accomplish certain things in Italy.
Your third book, “The Color of Naples and the Amalfi Coast” is full of inspiring photos that you took yourself. Was it difficult to pick and choose them out of all your photos?
Yes, it took a long time for me to choose which photos to use because I structured the book to include photos of people, places, streets, food, and traditions. I wanted these loose categories to be evenly represented, and I also wanted the first two-thirds of the book to be about Naples, and the last third to be about the Amalfi Coast. I have thousands of photos so going through them and finding the ones with the highest resolutions that would fit best on the pages was challenging.
Would you travel solo again? Why or why not?
Absolutely I would travel solo again. While I enjoy the camaraderie of traveling with others, as I did this past spring with you and Victoria De Maio, I enjoy the freedom that solo traveling provides. My dream is to travel to Italy solo and stay in one place to do nothing but relax and write.
How did you fall in love with Italy?
That’s easy. From the moment I arrived in Rome during my first trip in 2007, I felt at home. It is hard to explain but it was a feeling that I experienced then, and that same feeling returns every time I go back to Italy. It’s a sense of peacefulness. It’s as if a part of me is always there.
What is it about Italy that fascinates you and keeps you returning?
I guess that feeling of being home is part of it but also it’s the fact that Italy is so diverse and has so much to offer. There are always more things to see, more places to go, and now that I have made friends in Italy, more people to see. Most of all for me though, I do believe that a part of my heart will always be in Italy.
What do you hope your readers will get out of reading your two memoirs and/or your third book?
I hope that they will be able to experience my passion for Italy and maybe want to go there themselves or travel vicariously with me. I hope the stories and the photos might bring back memories of previous travels for some of them. And I also hope that they will realize that if you want something enough, if you are determined, you can make it happen for yourself.
Thank you Susan for the honor of featuring me here. I’m so grateful for the travel experiences we shared this past spring, where we got to know each other in person instead of via social media and Skype. I am glad to be able to call you my friend.