Please join me in Welcoming the fascinating (and busy) Maria Grazia to my site today. I hope you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.
What got you first started reading?
It was my sweet, unforgettable primary school teacher. I was 8 when she gave me a book as a gift for my first holy communion. It was Little Women. I started reading it and I discovered how exciting the journey into a book could be. I have never really come back. I’m still on that journey. At that time my great granny used to call me back to reality and scolded me because I was always with my head in a book, now it can be sons or husbands. I can still get lost into a good book.
What was your first favorite book?
I must repeat myself. It was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I fell in love with young Lawrence, dreamt of being Jo and, like her, I started dreaming of becoming a writer one day. But as you know, I became a teacher like her and never wrote my novel. However, I don’t really regret my choices and chances: I’m quite happy with my English literature classes and my blogs.
What is your favorite genre?
Well, actually I haven’t got a best favourite genre, I have read and read very different kinds of books, though If I have to choose classic literature, historical fiction and romance novels are what I’d say I love best.
How does your love of reading relate to your teaching career?
I don’t think there’s any relation because, in fact, I’ve always read a lot, but I’ve never wanted to become a teacher. I wished to work in publishing and, especially, I longed to be a translator of books. I did that for a while but, maybe, I started with the wrong publisher and … I hated it. The pressure with deadlines, the very little money for hours and hours of hard work. I just hated it and stopped.
Then I happened to be offered a position as a teacher for a term and I hit it off with the job. I realized I liked it and … surprise, surprise! I could manage kids or teenagers and they learnt from me.
What got you started blogging? Since you run THREE, there must be something that you really enjoy. LOL
I started since I dreamt of becoming I writer… LOL! Joking. I don’t actually “write”. I’d rather say I “scribble”. English is not even a second language for me, I studied it here in Italy at University and I’m mostly self – taught. However I dare use it to write my blogs. I use it with respect and love, at least.
Honestly I started out to support my students. My first blog was Learnonline (2008) which ended in 2011. because the host, splinder.com, closed. But I then started a new Learnonline on blogspot.com
What inspired your two non-teaching blogs, Fly High, and My Jane Austen Book Club? Could you tell us a little about what you publish in each?
When I began to blog, with Learnonline, I enjoyed the experience so much that I wanted to have a more personal corner in the blogosphere. So first came Fly High! (2009), followed, after a while, by My Jane Austen Book Club (2010).
At Fly High ! I blog about books, literature, films and TV series, historical fiction, theatre, my trips and journeys. My JA Book Club is instead focused on everything Austen.
I’m very proud of them. Blogging has become terribly time-consuming but also so rewarding. I’ve finally met the people I’ve always dreamed of meeting: people who love what I love, who read what I have to say and who contribute their opinions. And I’ve improved my skills and knowledge, widened my horizons, read more, watched more, travelled more, enjoyed life so much more.
One of the most distinct things you do is put out an electronic newspaper, The Everything Austen Daily . Can you tell us more about electronic newspapers in general and about yours in specific?
I had seen other Paper.lis publicised on Twitter. Such a great idea, I thought! I wanted to publish one of my own, but I had to find the right motive and topic. What better than trying to collect all the materials posted about Jane Austen? Do you want to start one yourself? It’s quite simple. Here are my tips:
- Choose a topic/character/issue which is quite popular on Twitter and which interests you
- Sign-up for Google Alerts about that topic/character/issue
- Surf the net and find interesting articles/blog posts about your topic/character/issue
- Choose the links to the stuff you find most interesting
- Set up the editing details with care – use the most authentic and credible Twitter or RSS feeds as a base, then add content from anywhere on the web using the Paper.li Publish.it bookmarklet.
- Then use the Paper.li Nomad to embed your paper on your blog. I like this a lot – all the recent news from the Austen fandom is there, updated every 24 hours. It’s brilliant for when I don’t succeed in posting something once a day.
How do you keep up with all four publications? What are your favorite parts of the process. What could you really do without?
Well, how do I keep up? Since I do everything by myself and I usually work on my blogs at night, I must confess I sleep very little. As for my favourite parts of the process, they are my contacts with authors, publicists, bloggers, interesting people all over the world. What could I really do without? Tough question, I really don’t know. Maybe the pressure of deadlines. I hate working at deadlines.
What’s up next for you and your websites?
I’ll go on spreading the love for what I love: books, films and series, art and theatre, writing and reading, trips and journeys. Do you think I should change? Looking forward to meeting lots of new interesting people through FLY HIGH, Learn On Line and My Jane Austen Book Club.
You can find Maria Grazia at
- How to Talk Like Jane Austen (wordnik.com)
- Jane Austen Bandages (neatorama.com)
- Interview with Susannah Fullerton, Author of A Dance With Jane Austen (janeaustensworld.wordpress.com)
- Jane Austen as Cult Fiction (authormariagrace.com)