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October 31, 2019
The following is a transcript of a twitter thread with @joannevannicola discussing the crafting of and reactions to their memoir All We Knew But Couldn’t Say, edited for maximum blog-readability. If you would like to interact with the thread on Twitter, click here: Jo Vannicola Author Chat
WOTS: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, Jo! You’ve been at events all over the country this fall speaking about your memoir—could you share a memorable moment or two?
Jo Vannicola: Yes. There were a few people who came up to me to tell me their experiences of childhood and/or current situations as survivors or people just coming out. Exchanging moments with those people and signing their books was why I wrote my memoir, to connect and reflect.
WOTS: The personal is universal, and we’re not surprised your story has inspired others to share! The process of memoir writing is different for everyone – in the writing, what was the biggest challenge and triumph?
JV: A big challenge was exposing family secrets and finding a balance between writing my story and protecting the privacy of people. Also writing about violence issues, homophobia and the death of my mother… all of it was hard to explore in a book with 250 pages. So triumph!
WOTS: Absolutely a difficult line to walk, but you made it look graceful. Is there a piece of writing advice you would give yourself now, at the “end” of the process?
JV: Good question. Advice to myself before writing: Don’t beat yourself up. People will support. It will get published. It is important. Voice matters. Women, LGBTQ people, the voice of advocacy, mental health issues and so much more-are needed. Don’t worry so much younger Jo!
WOTS: All true! The book has been described as cinematic, in reference to the way you structured the story – was this intentional?
JV: I grew up with screenplays, and I think my writing style incorporated that, but in literary/memoir format. Many have said it is cinematic. It wasn’t so much the intention but also, I hope it does get picked up because it would be awesome to see it come to life through film.
WOTS: A film adaptation would be incredible – in reading it was already very engaging. Did you pick up any “writerly habits” while working on the book?
JV: I did find myself looking for places to write, playing music before writing, creating space while writing so it was comfortable. Sometimes I would read for inspiration. 🙂
WOTS: All the hallmarks of a writer! 😉 We hear that music playlists & cosy coffee shops are key. What’s one piece of advice you share with other emerging writers?
JV: People tell me they want to write their stories & are afraid or don’t know how. I tell them to keep writing, to not let inner critic stop them. Telling our stories is so important, esp. for women, LGBTQ and POC. Keep writing! The world wants us to be silent. Write!
WOTS: The best advice! We’re excited to read the work of all those inspired writers. Last one before you go: What are you excited to be working on next?
JV: I’m working on a few projects: a picture book about gender, screen writing projects, and a new book YA or maybe just fiction. Depends on voice, but lots of writing and some with other women. Exciting time. Thank you for the questions.
WOTS: A full plate! We’re so excited to see what’s coming next. Thanks for chatting with us today, and have a great time at the Edmonton Lit Fest!
Check out Jo’s website joannevannicolaauthor.com for more about their memoir, upcoming projects, and events!