Saturday, March 08, 2014

Author Interview: Agnieszka Paletta: DOING GERMANY

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Agnieszka Paletta (née Mroszczyk) was born in Cracow, Poland in 1978. When she was 9 years old, her family moved to Toronto, Canada. She graduated with a BA from the University of Toronto. Many jobs followed, both in North America and Europe, with no sequential relevance or career logic. By the age of 32, she had already worked in the fields of publishing, IT and teaching, been an executive assistant and a waitress, anything and everything in order to pursue adventure, travel and a restless spirit. At present she makes her home in Wörth am Rhein, Germany with her husband and children.

Welcome Agnieszka!

Your real name and pen name?
Agnieszka Paletta - it is the same.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood
Somewhat typically, I tend to glorify some moments of my communist childhood. Like the rest of the country, I didn't have Barbie dolls or bananas for that matter. We had two TV channels. (And we were lucky - we had a TV.) There was no luscious playground; the local carpet-beater-apparatus was our amphitheater. But all that "poverty" and simplicity meant that kids were out there in the yard all day long. Imaginations flourished. Kids socialized. People socialized. Now it takes a dozen emails, texts and cell phone calls just to establish a potential time and place. Communism did have its perks.

About your education
I have a BA from the University of Toronto; a double major in English and Criminology. I thought about going to law school for a while. Then one day I looked into the cost of such an adventure, and that was the end of that idea.

What languages you can speak and write?
I'm fluent in Polish and English, but during my life I ran into four other languages as well. I studied French for many years because it is the second official language of Canada, I had Latin for one semester in university, I lived in Italy for about five months and learned (imperfect) Italian, and now I live in Germany so I'm battling German. What I've learned over the years is this: I'm incapable of keeping more than three languages straight in my head. How others do it, I have no idea! Wow. I remember coming to Italy (with absolutely no knowledge of Italian), and speaking French to some people in the first few weeks while there. But as I learned Italian, my French went out the window. And many years later, when I moved to Germany, the same thing happened again: as I began acquiring German, my Italian dwindled into nothing. I am in awe of anyone who can handle a mix of languages in their head.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life
Put simply, my mother.

What hurts you most in this world
The fact that there is a huge, deep ocean dividing me from my parents, and a long and sometimes bumpy highway dividing me from my brother. I wish my family was together.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?
Hmm...without thinking too much about this, I'd say Jane Austen. I love her books, the poetry of her prose. Would be pretty cool to experience such a mind for a day. Any longer than that, and I'd probably blow a gasket. 

What is your favorite genre and why?
Tough one. I don't have one favorite, but I guess I have a weakness for anything set during the Roman Empire. Sienkiewicz's "Quo Vadis" got me started, and Colleen McCullough's Master of Rome series got me hooked. Between reading whatever else I am reading, every so often I have to take a breath of familiar air and devour a book or two about all that went on during that profound period of time. 

When did you start writing? What is the purpose of your writing?
When I finally found the time! I quit my job and moved to a foreign country where I had no friends and no job. I had the whole day to myself. At first I just read a zillion books. After a while, I tried to write one...

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?
DOING GERMANY is my first published book. I would love to write a sequel, but with two young kids on my hands, my time is not my own. So between the diaper changes and building airport luggage systems out of Play-doh, we'll just have to wait and see how quickly I can get the next book out.

Your dream destination on Earth?
A palm tree, some ocean waves, something with a paper-umbrella in my hand.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed. What best things you liked in these countries around the globe?
I was born in Cracow, Poland. It's who I am; where my heart will always belong. But I grew up in Toronto, Canada. The thrill of a pulsing city is something I've come to appreciate only just recently; the endless possibilities, the energy, the skyline at night... During my twenties I fell in love with Italy and Italian the minute my plane landed in Milan. For me, Italy is like being a kid and going into a candy store. Unsupervised. Need I say more? And last but not least, Germany. Definitely a pleasant surprise even if not quite a candy store. 
Your favorite time of the day?
Funny how things change once you get gray hair. I used to be a night person. Perhaps most young people are. After sunset - that's when I came alive. At midnight the party was just getting started. Nowadays I start yawning even before my kids go to bed. Sunrise. That is my favorite time now. The quiet of the morning, the crispness of the air, the knowledge that I have an entire day still ahead of me.

Your zodiac/ sunsign?
Libra. I always thought that perhaps that's why I have such "scale" issues. Dieting all my life.

Your favorite food?
Unfortunately, chocolate. I wish it was carrot sticks or something. Maybe then the "scale" issues would be non-issues!

   The last line of your autobiography would be…
"Finally, I have found a place to call home."
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