Ciao! Thanks for opening your blog to me, Chris. I’m happy to be here.
I have to say, when I learned I was supposed to write an introductory post, I cringed. I hate being the center of attention. Then, I laughed at myself. When I used to be a professor, turning the spotlight on my students was one of the first things I did to them. After a brief hello from me (with all eyes focused on yours truly), I took roll. And, of course, I made everyone say a little bit about themselves. Yes, it took the heat off me for a moment. But that wasn’t the reason I did it. (Well, not the only reason.) It was so I could start to get to know my class and put names with faces.
I taught because I love the field of writing. It’s what I was trained to do and what excites me. But I asked my students to tell me about themselves so we could connect. Those connections helped me reach them. I could tell if someone didn’t understand something, then I could tailor my message until I saw the light dawn. Without taking the time to forge those bonds, I ran the risk of my lessons being ineffective. Worse, I ran the risk of not knowing we weren’t in sync.
It’s been more than a decade since I’ve been a professor, but I still find ways to put my education and work experience to use. Sometimes that’s through writing guest posts on industry sites. Other times it’s by being a contributing author on the Story Empire blog. Still other times, it’s by working as an editor. All of these things have the benefit of two-way communication. A dialogue. And exchange of ideas. It’s gratifying and fulfilling. I hope the people involved get as much from it as I do. And believe me, I get a lot from it.
But as often as I can, I use my skills to write fiction. And while that is my passion, it’s largely a one-way message and can, at times, feel isolating. The introvert in me might find safety in that, but it’s not healthy. Or practical. It also makes it incredibly difficult to know if my themes and ideas are translating to readers the way I hope.
I wrote my Medici Protectorate series because of my grandfather’s heritage. Obviously my family isn’t magical, but the core premise of the saga is about strength of lineage, and that’s important to me. There are plenty of Italian references in there, many of which came directly from my family. We aren’t warriors, but we are intensely, fiercely loyal to each other and will absolutely fight to protect each other’s honor against outsiders. (You should see what my daughter has me listed as in her phone contacts. Her friends are shocked, but I own it. We know who we are.)
My Cathedral Lake series was born from a mistake in a blood lab. The wrong results were sent to a family member and some feelings got hurt. I did a TON of research on Rh factors before the lab contacted that family member and admitted their mistake. Crisis averted, but my interest was already piqued. From that one error came a single novel that blossomed into a whole world of intrigue. Secrets can never stay hidden, and they always reveal themselves in the most painful ways. This series played with how relationships can turn toxic because of lies, how dispositions might change once the truth comes to light, and how family dynamics may shift for better or worse after those deceptions run their course.
I think it’s a lot easier to explore big themes in series than in stand-alone titles or short works, though I’ve written my fair share of those, too. But I keep going back to the long, sweeping sagas. I like to dig deep into characters and the messes they can make. And I do like to put my characters in sticky situations.
Sometimes my ideas start from something that happened in real life. Other times they come from the oddest places, completely unrelated to my world. I think there’s always a little bit of ourselves in our fiction and never anything one hundred percent autobiographical. But, unless you count reviews (and I don’t, because writers shouldn’t respond to them), fiction is the one kind of work I do that doesn’t let me interact with people. It fulfills my need to create, but it doesn’t let me connect with people the way editing, teaching, and blogging do. And, even though I’m definitely an introvert, I need that connection to know I’m reaching people in a meaningful way.
That’s why I find it so gratifying that, more than a decade since I stopped teaching, some of my students still keep in touch with me. It makes me feel like I did something right.
It’s why I enjoy editing and blogging, too. The chance to interact with others keeps me on my toes. It lets me know I’m helping people, too. And that matters to me.
Maybe today I’ll go against my nature to be a glass-half-full kind of girl—I’ll be grateful for the chance to be both an introverted author and a social blogger who gets to talk to people in the comment boxes of posts. It probably doesn’t get much better than that.
Thanks for listening. And Chris, thanks for opening your blog to me. Saluti!
Staci Troilo grew up in Western Pennsylvania writing stories and poetry in her free time, so no one was surprised when she became a writing major in college. After receiving creative and professional writing degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, she went on to get her Master’s Degree in Professional Writing, then worked in corporate communications until she had her children. Now she’s a freelance writer and editor who spends many of her days happily immersed in fictional worlds. She’s a multi-genre author whose love for writing is only surpassed by her love for family and friends, and that relationship-centric focus is featured in her work.