Author Interview: Ivani Greppi

1) Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer?

As an avid reader since childhood, I was passionate about books and stories. My first hardcover book was Alice in Wonderland translated into Portuguese. It was a gift from my aunt in Brazil right before we immigrated to America. My favorite places to hang out were the library or bookstores where I immersed myself in magical worlds, real or imagined.

When I was a teenager, I returned to Brazil for a few years. At that time, I was introduced to books by Jorge Amado. His books took me to another level of passion for reading. His stories opened up a world with characters that became so real, that even decades after reading the stories, I still remember them as old friends.

There are so many authors who have inspired me, but some of my favorites are Flannery O’Connor, Elena Ferrante, T. C. Boyle, and C. S. Lewis.

2) Do you prefer eBooks, printed books, or audiobooks most of the time?

When I read, I prefer printed books over eBooks. However, there have been times when I truly enjoyed audiobooks. One of my favorite audiobooks was Angela’s Ashes, a memoir by Frank McCourt narrated by the author in his unique Irish brogue.

3) Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?

Personally, writing can both energize and exhaust me. It took me years to finish my first draft of Cast Out. When I first started writing it, I attempted to write it as a memoir. After many drafts, I gave up on the manuscript. But the desire to share my and my ancestor’s immigration journeys combined with our past occult experiences before coming to Christ would not let me go.

Then I read two books that inspired me to write the story as fiction: The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis, and This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. What was most draining about writing Cast Out was writing the story through a demon’s point of view. When Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters he said, “Of all my books, there was only one I did not take pleasure in writing.” The Screwtape Letters, his most famous work, written from the devil’s point of view was “fatiguing” for him. And writing Cast Out in a demon’s voice was emotionally and spiritually taxing for me as well.

4) How did you come up with the title for your book?

Coming up with the title of my book was a long process. Initially, it was titled In Gods We Trusted. Then I decided to go with Chronicles of a Familiar Spirit. However, after doing research, I learned that the main title needed to be more direct and relatable to the story. Cast Out came to mind after I read the following biblical verse in John 12:31: Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And of course, it was fitting since the demon in the story was cast out of Branca, the woman he possessed since childhood.

5) How do you come up with character names for your stories?

The characters’ names in the story are mostly nicknames given by the demon to address the human “charges” he controls. Since the demon is narrating the story, he refuses to use the character’s given names and assigns monikers that align with either the physical or personality attributes of each character. 

6) How much research did you need to do for your book?

One of my favorite things about writing Cast Out was doing historical research. Since the story spans 100 years, I used historical events that intertwined with the characters’ lives. It was so interesting to learn how Brazilian soldiers fought in Italy alongside the Allies in WWII during the final stages of the war. Finding my great-grandmother’s Ellis Island documents where she, her sisters, and her mother were held Liable to Become Public Charges because they arrived in the US from the Azores unaccompanied by a male was mind-blowing. To read the ships’ manifestos with my Italian great-grandfather, and Spanish great-grandmother’s names’ arriving in Brazil to work as indentured slaves in coffee fields was truly humbling. Writing this book was incredibly eye-opening and rewarding to see not just how much my ancestors sacrificed to give their families a better life, but most importantly how much God loves us unconditionally by forgiving us, and giving us eternal life.

7) If your book were made into a movie, which actors would play your characters?

It would be a dream come true to have Cast Out made into a movie. As far as what actor I would like to play my main character, Vincent Price comes to mind as the face of the demon, but since he’s dead, maybe Christoph Waltz?

8) What would you say to an author who wanted to design their own cover?

Coming up with a cover design idea was daunting. Thankfully, my son André Greppi who is a very talented published art director, illustrator, and visual artist, created the perfect book cover for Cast Out. I believe that having a professional artist design a book cover is very important. The book cover is the first thing people see. It should be striking and impressive and fit the author’s specific brand.

9) What’s your favorite writing snack or drink?

When I write, having a cup of coffee is crucial. My parents gifted us with an espresso machine recently. Best of all, my husband learned how to make the most delicious lattes. This is the perfect treat when I need a boost in energy.

10) Whom do you trust for objective and constructive criticism of your work?

One of the best experiences that I had while writing this book was being a part of a Christian Writers’ critique group. We met once a month, and the objective and encouraging critiques helped me to keep going and not give up on writing Cast Out.

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