Q&A With Rose's Will Author, Denise DeSio
What happens when you mix a lesbian atheist, a resentful people-pleaser, a Bulgarian millionaire, and one very nasty matriarch with a colorful cast of extended relatives? Denise DeSio’s debut novel, “Rose’s Will”.
Brooklyn-born author, Denise DeSio joined us for a Q&A to discuss her debut novel, Rose’s Will. If you haven’t had a chance to read the book, it is currently available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers (see links at the bottom of the interview).
Your background is pretty diverse. Although you consider yourself a writer first, you also have experience teaching kindergarten, sales, web design, marketing, and the list goes on and on. Were all these jobs part of your journey to discover a true passion or a writer's pursuit to find good characters and stories?
My diverse background has been the result of either necessity or curiosity. Although I have been writing all my life, I've never subscribed to the one, true passion theory. The idea of committing my life to any one activity no matter how much I might like it, is my version of Hell. In retrospect, however, I should have paid more attention to all the people who said, "You should write a book." Maybe I wouldn't have waited until I was 59 before I published my first novel.
You managed to turn your personal experience as a property manager during the real estate crash into a comedic tale entitled "Tenants Straight From Hell". Was writing this story your way of coping with the economic crisis? Do you generally try to find the humor in trying situations?
Yes and yes. I had no idea how many crazy people live in apartments. Documenting the absurdity of it was the only way to process it. Among our tenants, we housed two crackheads, a suicide attempt, a domestic abuser, a hoarder, a case of bedbugs, a Mexican chihuahua-breeding cartel, and a tenant who tried to sue us for allegedly stealing his TV. Believe me when I tell you, dealing with these people was not a deliberate attempt to pursue writing material!
Congrats on your debut novel, "Rose's Will". Can you tell us a bit about the story and your inspiration for the book?
Thank you. "Rose's Will" is the story of a Brooklyn family, broken by one woman's inability to love, and Eli, the Bulgarian Holocaust survivor who loved her unconditionally.
"Rose's Will" began as a memoir inspired by my terrible relationship with my mother, Rose. It turned into a novel after I'd written a short story about the man who loved my mother. I brought it to a writer's conference and the agent who read it said, "This is amazing! Send me the rest of the book." There was no "rest of the book." So I went home and called Eli, who I met years earlier at my mother’s funeral. I asked him for an interview, hoping he would tell me more about his relationship with her. Instead, he chose to entrust me with much of his personal history and his unique tale of survival in Bulgaria, a country allied with Germany during the Holocaust. At that point, I abandoned the idea of a standalone memoir and incorporated Eli into the book, making him one of three main characters. Although I did fictionalize much of his relationship with Rose, I was very careful to remain true to every detail that he shared with me about his experience in Bulgaria. Eli is 83 now and still lives in Brooklyn.
How has the novel been received thus far?
Rose's Will" is getting almost unanimous 5-star reviews. My publisher, 48fourteen, originally published it as an eBook, but they are so delighted with the response that it's now in the process of being formatted for a print edition to be released this summer. I'm so grateful for this interview and your help in reaching the Jewish community, who I'm sure will want to read and recommend Rose's Will at a time when it's more imperative than ever to document and recognize every single Holocaust story before the survivors are no more.
You describe "Rose's Will" as upmarket fiction. What exactly does that mean? Are you hoping this terminology will attract a specific demographic of readers?
Upmarket fiction is a relatively new term made popular by agents and publishers to describe commercial fiction with enough literary elements to appeal to readers of literary fiction as well, thus gaining a wider audience, and therefore more book sales. Books that are tagged as such are generally character driven novels with a focus on relationship dynamics, rather than plot-driven, formulaic novels like romance, mystery, paranormal, etc.