Today I’m pleased to introduce you all to Trini Amador, author of the thrilling historical fiction novel Gracianna. Trini’s story is based on the life of his great grandmother Gracianna and I’m very excited to hear a bit about how he wove together fact and fiction. Hi Trini and welcome!
Awww, thanks so much for having me.
Would you please start by telling us a bit about the kind of research you did while writing Gracianna?
Where do I start? Firstly I went to the Basque country, Paris and Auschwitz aside from the “book” study work and interviews I did. It was bitter sweet. Seeing the homeland where my great-grandmother was from was wonderful. I felt at peace knowing the place where she grew up. Compared to the comforts of today I can barely imagine heating a place by wood and the effort that it would have taken to do that. Listening to her native tongue all around me was mystical.
Paris was gorgeous of course.
Seeing the opulence of Le Meurice Hotel where the Nazi Command had set up was overwhelming. It is beautiful to but to know that the Nazi’s had once dominated it was chilling.
I went to Auschwitz one day. I took about 700 photos. I have barely looked at them since.
When I landed in Warsaw I had realized that I had left my big jacket at home. Not hard to do since I had been on the road for three weeks and in temperate South America for two weeks prior.
When the door of the airplane open WHOOSH! The rush of the cold air hit me like a truck. I was drawn to Auschwitz knowing that Gracianna’s sister had been there during the winter. How someone could live through a day of that weather was unfathomable.
While doing your research, did you learn anything that particularly surprised or inspired you?
On the day I stared writing the book I learned that Gracianna’s sister had lived through a Nazi concentration camp! That was a revelation that added a complete new dimension to the book. It was shocking and made sense all at the same time. I was compelled to write Gracianna and find write a story behind the whispers.
What gave you the idea to turn your great-grandmother’s fascinating story into a book?
When I was five years old my grandmother caught me walking around the house with a loaded German Luger. It came back to as a teen and I stared wondering. Why did my great-grandmother have a loaded German Luger in her house? I started piecing it all together in my head.
Could you please talk a little about which parts of the story are fact and which are fiction?
There are tons of facts in the story. It started with me picking up a gun and walking around her house with it. “Put it down” was all she said. She was nonplussed but serious. Everything about the Basque country is factual along with the war, the Resistance and the concentration camp references. Gracianna’s sister was in a concentration camp and lived according to my Aunt Kathy. There are many many references to my own live that are woven into the story that are true as well. As my publisher told me, “The moment you add dialogue it is fictional.” Makes sense, who knows who said what to whom?
Your family runs a winery named after your great-grandmother. What made you decide to name the winery after her?
That is an easy one. When I was a boy my great-grandmother used to talk about being thankful a lot. At that age it is impossible to fathom the meaning. But over time it started to come to me… “grateful.” I have said that one must hit their 40’s or maybe 50’s to “get it.” If one ever does. But I started to realize that appreciating what we have is a fruitful, calming and humbling frame of mind. We had always considered that a value important to pass along to our children as well. Gracianna came to mean “thankful” to us and gratitude came alive as a result.
Do you read as well as write historical fiction? Or do you have another favorite genre?
I enjoy non-fictional really when I have time to read. But the classic are my favorite. Stephen Crane, F. Scott Fitzgerald, I read them over and over. I have no idea what I am looking for but these books are well worn and comforting.
Do you have any plans to continue writing or was this a one-time thing to tell this particular story?
Huh, funny you should ask. There is another story and my publisher has asked if I would be interested to write it. I will decide as we get into the New Year. I would LOVE to write again and hope to be able to do that.
Where can readers go to learn more about your book and about your wine?
Thanks so much for asking www.gracianna.com If folks are coming to the wine country please send me an e-mail and I will be happy to arrange a personal tour and tell our story. Trini.Amador3@gracianna.net
Thank you so much for joining us today Trini! As a lover of non-fiction, I’m always fascinated by the parts of fiction that are true and the research that goes into making historical fiction believable. I really enjoyed your book and hope someday to visit your beautiful winery!