Nrdly
Get Nrdly Free Trial Built with Nrdly

An interview with Etta Donato

Interviewer: First of all, thanks for joining us today, Etta. We know you have a busy life. Just to set the stage a little, you’re the main character in the book Henrietta, so I guess Etta is your nickname?

Etta: Yes. It’s an old-fashioned name, but I was named after my great-grandmother. Her story is also in the book, so it’s a two-for-one value.

Interviewer: Okay. And you’re also a writer. Is that right?

Etta: Yes. I have an MFA from Northern Michigan University and met my husband while attending graduate school in Marquette.

Interviewer: Great. So, what, to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

Etta: Finding the time. I’m a young mother, with another one on the way. Tom and I own a bed-and-breakfast on the shores of Lake Superior on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, so I’m busy. There’s never enough hours in the day. Sometimes the only time I find to write is when everyone is snoring.

Interviewer: And the easiest?

Etta: Coming up with ideas. I’ve got so many ideas running through my mind. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

Interviewer: How long have you been writing?

Etta: Since I was a little girl. I’d make up ridiculous stories with my cousin Peggy. Sometimes we’d act them out. She and I have been pen pals for forever, so a lot of the time I’d pour what was in my heart out in words to Peggy and eventually I started writing them in story format instead of letters. I’m sure I’d cringe at some of those early stories I used to send her.

Interviewer: What types of stories do you like to read?

Etta: I’m an equal opportunity reader. Of course, I love romances, but I like thrillers and mysteries and sci-fi too. I haven’t gotten into the paranormal stuff much, but I’ve been thinking about it. And, of course, who doesn’t love a good western. There are such predictable characters in westerns. I love ‘em. And like Stephen King says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have a chance to write.”

Interviewer: Please tell us all about you.

Etta: I’m a pretty typical Midwestern woman, about to be a mother of two, originally from Minnesota, the Twin Cities. I’m married to my best friend, Tom, who is also a native Minnesotan. I’m a runner. I try to run at least two miles every day, sometimes more. I’m a writer, but I don’t specialize in any one genre at the moment. Let’s just say I’m finding my niche in the writing world. I’ve published some of my work, a short story in an anthology of Indigenous American folk tales, which was wonderful! I’ve also published two stand-alone mystery novels. I’ve been through a lot in my life. My mother died when I was young, brought up by my dad, who is the world’s greatest dad. I’m the survivor of date rape and violent crime and glad to say I lived to talk about it. I’m a huge victim’s rights advocate and speak at domestic violence conferences on occasion. Otherwise, I’m just me. <giggle>

Interviewer: Would you like to share an embarrassing or funny moment with us?

Etta: That’s an easy question. It’s always the same one. The first time I met Tom. I went to this club, and he sat down. We flirted, then this hypnotist started his act. Next thing I know, I’m on stage with this total stranger, I had been hypnotized, and I just know I’ve kissed this guy while I was out of it. It was incredibly embarrassing, and yet, it turned out okay in the end. I did marry him, after all …. much, much later!

Interviewer: Where do you see your writing career in ten years?

Etta: Wow, ten years. I can’t imagine it at the moment. I’ll have a thirteen and ten-year-old. My life may perhaps be even more chaotic than it is now, but I’m hoping to have found my niche and published a couple of fiction series, maybe more on the American Indians. Gee, I guess I better get started on that, huh?

Interviewer: What advice would you give your teenage self?

Etta: I’d probably tell myself to pay attention, learn a lot. Listen more and speak less. I missed a lot of cues from people that I should have picked up on that would’ve saved me a lot of pain and heartache, so I think, just be more aware. And I’d tell myself to stop taking life so seriously. Have fun! What good is life is you aren’t enjoying yourself? Tom’s taught me a lot about just letting loose and letting go.

Interviewer: Where can we find you on the Internet?

Etta: You can find my whole story in Patricia M Jackson’s book, Henrietta: Book #1 in the House of Donato Series. You’re going to put the links in the same post, I think. My sister-in-law’s story is Book #2, Isabella. She’s a hoot. You’ll get a laugh out of her and Murphy. Murphy’s a little insane, by the way, but only a little. He’s a pro hockey player for the North Stars at the moment. My cousin Peggy’s story, Margaret: Book #3, is due out in the fall of 2016, so make sure you pick that up. Peggy is an incredibly talented pianist and a wonderful person. She’s a lot like a sister to me. Anyway, her story is the culmination of the overall story that began with me. You can find all of that on Patricia’s website: http://patriciamjackson.com and a lot more.

Interviewer: Well, thanks again, for your time, Etta. We appreciate you taking the time to sit down and talk with us for a while. Please give our best to Tom and the Donato family. They have a pizzeria, is that right?

Etta: Yes. It’s a great place to stop for a bite if you’re ever in Duluth, and it’s fantastic food!

ettadonato, henrietta, houseofdonato, interview