An Interview with Catherine Tondelli: Author & Entrepreneur
Sylvia: Welcome Catherine! Its a pleasure to be able to share your story. Please give our readers an introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Catherine: Thank you Sylvia. My name is Catherine Tondelli and I was born – along with my twin sister – into a large Irish/Italian family in Chicago, the ninth of 11 kids (six boys & five girls). Growing up as part of this large, chaotic family has provided me with many entertaining stories that are woven in my memoir. Most significantly, at the age of 13 my father walked out on us all and never looked back. Against all odds, my mother, a school teacher who made sure we all got an education, while raising us with no alimony or child support on her pauper’s salary.
From those humble beginnings and after having met my Italian husband, I am today a cross-cultural expert, living and worked abroad for the past 13 years with several multinational companies in marketing, PR and business development. I am a luxury hotel expert and event manager, assisting companies with their meetings and events worldwide.
My book recounts how my entire life changed in one fateful trip to Italy, with my mom. It all started from the title, “Three Coins in the Fountain” where I through them in — in Rome’s Trevi Fountain, wishing for love and of course, a return trip to Rome. What happened next is a wonderful roller coaster ride which ultimately ended up with my moving to Rome!
Sylvia: Wow, very rich heritage. What inspired you to write your first book?
Catherine: My mother has been a huge inspiration in my life and where I get my strength, faith and determination. My mother’s unwavering faith in God is instilled in me and what got me through so many difficult periods in my life. She would make us pray to saints to help find lost keys, sell houses or get us through our darkest moments. I would tell people some of the wild stories from my upbringing and the struggles my mother had to face as a single mother raising us kids. Coupled with the hilarious antics of my Italian husband, Fausto, well, everyone told me I should share these stories in a book!
In fact, after I was awarded for top sales with a luxurious trip for two to Venice, Italy, I brought my mom along as my travel companion. She was the one who urged me to toss three coins in — and the next thing I knew, the man of my life was chatting us up! It was a GMC moment – as my mom would call it, a “God Manufactured Coincidence.”
Sylvia: Oh gosh… I love it! Your mother – a wise woman. How did your mother manage to feed and raise all those children by herself?
Catherine: Well, with all those mouths to feed, it was difficult even when both parents were around! But if my mother is one thing, she is frugal. We shopped at second hand stores and she taught us all how to sew our own clothes. When we moved to Texas for a 4 year stint, we literally ‘lived off the land’ (and I will tell you right now, it sounds a lot more romantic than it was!) She always bought wisely and gave us food that filled us up a lot: rice, beans, pasta and breads. To this day, I still have a hard time thinking of rice dishes as gourmet food.
Sylvia: I can relate. My grandmother raised several of us. I am still amazed today at how she could make a ‘gourmet’ meal out of a few items in the kitchen. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Catherine: I wanted this memoir to give so many women – and men (after all, Fausto was still single and nearly 50 when we met) – hope. If you believe in it, true love will find you as easily as tossing some coins in a fountain. Settling into a relationship between two people from wholly different cultures and in a totally different country…well, that’s another story.
Sylvia: I can only imagine how challenging it might be. Sound like another book on the horizons. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Catherine: Write what you are passionate about, and the words will flow right from you, believe me. And, dig into your past. There’s a wealth of stories in there that make you who you are today.
Sylvia: Great advice! What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Catherine: Book launch events have been very successful for me as I have a vast network of friends and business associates worldwide who, like me, made major life changes, moved abroad, or simply found love in a strange away. Working with new media for my clients, I have also used social media like Facebook, newly created a blog and focused on distribution through online companies such as Amazon.com
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Catherine: Incredibly, because of all the miles I clock for work and pleasure, I do my best thinking on airplanes, in cars, airports or anyplace where my two Siamese cats can sit on my lap.
Sylvia: Is there anything you miss now that you are living in Rome?
Catherine: All of us expats, despite loving our adopted country all get homesick for family and, I would venture to guess, if they’re like me, Kraft macaroni & cheese!
Sylvia: What projects are you currently working on?
Catherine: My next project will be again working with Francesca Maggi (author of Burnt by the Tuscan Sun) on a toss-up of writing about my crazy family or the daily peculiarities of my husband, Fausto. Between them, I can honestly state that I have more material than anyone could ever possibly dream up.
Sylvia: LOL (laugh out loud). Sound like never a dull moment in your life. Why should we buy your book?
Catherine: Because it is a hilarious story of survival, love, kismet, adventure, family and faith. Three Coins in the Fountain is where Eat, Pray, Love meets My Big, Fat Greek Wedding — with the added family dynamics of The Glass Castle. Anyone who has ever dreamed of living in Italy will find it very entertaining, and as a sort of travelogue of life, readers will be taken on a fun-loving trip to and from fabled Italy, with forays to London, Morocco, Santo Domingo and more; all because a pair of keen, Irish eyes were smiling one moonlit night in front of Rome’s Trevi Fountain. “Love finds you when you least expect it”
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
Catherine: My power word is Gratefulness — growing up with so little and having to do without so much, I am always grateful for everything that has happened in my life and when anyone does something for me, so unexpected. I am also entirely grateful that I am now in a position to give back. I volunteer for different cat shelters in Rome and never forget to say thank you for everything and everyone in my life.
[pullquote]I try to be grateful for the abundance of the blessings that I have, for the journey that I’m on and to relish each day as a gift. James McGreevy[/pullquote]
Sylvia: That is such an empowering word. You inspired me to share one of my favorite quotes about being grateful. Thank you so much for sharing with my readers! Please share your social media and book contact information.
Catherine: Thanks Sylvia for the opportunity. My information is below:
- Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1461128145/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER