Patricia V. Davis's first non-fiction book, Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece, an "Under the Tuscan Sun meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding," has ranked in the top five in its category on Amazon.com, #1 in its category on Kindle, and is an Award-Winning Finalist in the Multi- cultural Non-fiction category of the National Best Books 2008 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News.
The memoir relates how Patricia, the Italian-American from Long Island, NY, marries Gregori, the gorgeous" Greek, winds up living in Greece, where she discovers that though she might not save marriage, she will indeed save herself.
Patricia recently wrote a column, "My PhD in Failed Relationships" for More.com:
Praise for Harlot's Sauce:
Marin Independent Journal
"Witty, human, readable"
"Inspiring, great read"
"A compulsively readable, candid story that is both hilarious and heartbreaking"
Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, author, Midori by Moonlight, Love in Translation
"Sex, love, marriage, motherhood, friendship, career - - I have at one time or another failed at them all," says Patricia. "Women are notorious for not taking action, for staying in bad relationships and situations, because they are afraid to be viewed as failures. Because of all the dismal mistakes I allowed myself to make in the past, doors to wonderful, new experiences opened for me, and led eventually to a happier, more productive life. And that's why I am proud to call myself a certified "Failed Relationship Expert."
While on tour promoting the book Harlot's Sauce, and interacting with audiences and readers, Patricia found relationships and her advice on them were what folks most wanted to discuss with her, so she has further honed her failed relationships expertise while touring and speaking. No wallflower she, the dynamic and entertaining Davis has for the last year been promoting her book in the most hands-on and creative manner possible, pounding the pavements, live on tour, in bookstores, at colleges, at writers conferences, using social media, blogging, producing her own internet radio show and e- magazine, a book trailer, website, podcasts, Facebook pages and contests, blog tours, adorable YouTube videos, and even singing rock 'n' roll on stage with other authors, all to tell the world her story and about her book, Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece.
In fact, coming out this November are hilarious podcasts of dramatic readings by professional actors playing the parts of her Brooklyn-born mother, her Sicilian-born father, and her Greek ex-husband. (And the tour isn't over yet: see Patricia's website for a full listing of upcoming events.)
Whence the title of her book? Harlots' Sauce gets its name from the Italian pasta sauce, "salsa puttanesca", a tomato sauce invented by harlots in Naples, Italy, many years ago. The sauce had to be quick to fix - between clients - and economical. Nonetheless, those women made something delicious out of a limited choice of ingredients.
"Something Delicious Out of Limited Choices" are words Patricia lives by, having remade her life at age 40, after a divorce from the man she thought was the man of her dreams. This is the story she tells in her first book, Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece.
Davis is also founder and editor-in-chief of the non-partisan Harlots' Sauce Radio e-magazine and podcast at www.harlotssauce.com, and her essays, opinion articles and celebrity interviews have appeared in various newspapers and magazines nationally and internationally. She blogs on a variety of subjects, most often on political and social satire. And of course, on food, family, love, and loss. Her podcast interviews are with a number of celebrities, too, and are gaining popularity.
Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece has also been picked up as class reading by the Gender Studies Classes at Adelphi University.
In November 2009, podcasts of professional readings from Harlot's Sauce will be available. A new edition with redesigned cover will be issued as well, the first print run having been sold out!
Further information about Patricia Volonakis Davis:
Web site: www.patriciaVdavis.com
Patricia Volonakis Davis's Upcoming Events
1/23/10 Guest author at Capital City Writers in Sacramento, CA (Sacramento State University)
2/13/10. Saturday. 10:00 AM. San Francisco, CA SF Writers Conference (Mark Hopkins Hotel). The 2010 Conference will feature nearly 100 agents, authors, editors, and book industry professionals in a stellar set of opportunities for writing advancement, more than fifty "how to" sessions, panels, and workshops taught by authors you know and love. San Francisco Writers Conference (Mark Hopkins Hotel), 1 Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA.
Harlot's Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece (Paperback)
by Patricia Volonakis Davis
Paperback: 276 pages. / Publisher: Harper Davis Publishing (New Edition Available November 2009).
ISBN-10: 0981915302 / ISBN-13: 978-0981915302 / Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches /
Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
QUESTIONS FOR PATRICIA VOLONAKIS DAVIS:
What is your book Harlot's Sauce about? What does the title mean?
'Harlot's Sauce' - the book - is about defining yourself by your own terms, not your family's, your spouse's, or even by the cultural and social background in which you were born.
'Harlot's sauce'- the title – comes from an Italian spaghetti sauce – salsa puttanesca, which literally means 'sauce of the harlots.' The story goes that prostitutes in Naples, Italy, were hungry and wanted to create a dish for themselves that was tasty, but because they were poor, they had only a limited choice of ingredients on hand. Well, they managed to make that "something delicious out of limited choices" that they wanted to make. Anyone who's ever tasted salsa puttanesca will tell you that it's delectable.
That's the theme of my book – "making something delicious out of limited choices." Also, the sauce is very much a character in this story, because 'harlot's sauce' is the sauce my grandmother used to make, my uncles used to make, and it was that particular sauce that my Greek husband emphatically did not like. Although to be fair, my grandmother's second husband died right while he was eating it, and I think that might have been another factor in my ex's aversion to it.
Your book has been called an Under the Tuscan Sun meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding. How is that true?
Well, first off, there are a lot of comedic elements to this story. Memoirs can be so navel-gazing, so I wanted to write my story in a way that would make people laugh at the same time it made them think. Therefore, since it's a cross-cultural memoir involving a Greek, it deliberately has that occasional slapstick misadventure element of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but it is also a true woman's coming of age story in a beautiful foreign setting, like Under the Tuscan Sun.
Your book will be made into podcasts soon with professional actors playing the parts of your parents, grandmother, and ex-husband. Is that fun to hear the people you know played by actors and reading the script you wrote for them?
Well, the three talented actors we were blessed to find are absolutely incredible mimics. Gaetano Iacono plays my father. He's an up-and-coming character actor who's been in films like Doughboys, Last Rites of the Dead and interestingly, I Hate Valentine's Day with Nina Vardalos. Then, Maryann Maisano plays my mother and my grandmother. She is one of The Italian Chicks, a girl band out of the east coast that mixes comedy into their singing act. Danny Aiello is a big fan of theirs and one of Maryann's song is on his latest CD. And the actor who plays my ex-husband is a British-Cypriot actor named Anthony Skordi. He's got this knock-you-down sexy voice, has been in so many things, but he claims he's known mostly known overseas. All of them literally bring the people I remember back to life, and they do it so naturally that even the producer who was mixing their voice overs – a young man in his twenties - was laughing. You know you’ve got a winner when even people who are not your main audience get a good chuckle.
Is there any element of revenge in your memoir in the way you depicted your loved ones?
No, not revenge. I had my own personal reasons why I needed to tell this story, but revenge was not a part of that, and if you read it, you will see that’s true. I don’t think anybody in the story is demonized. Well…except for maybe one minor character, but it’s certainly not my ex-husband.
You're divorced. How does your experience make you an expert on failed relationships?
It's not only divorce that makes me an expert. It's daring to live my life the way I wanted to, whether I got people’s approval or not, whether there were consequences or not. In fact those consequences were what helped me learn and grow. I feel sorry for any human being who doesn't want to learn and grow, who chooses denial over self-examination, and safety over exploration.
Did writing Harlot's Sauce, your memoir, help you look back and learn about your past?
It certainly did. And it also taught me to laugh about it. That was the trick.
How did you move from feeling crushed to seeing the humor in your situation?
Well, I'm going to borrow from something Nora Ephron wrote in her memoir, I Feel Bad about My Neck. You can continue to have regrets about your personal failures, or you can look at them and say, "Hmm – you know- this might make a funny story one day." If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.
While you publicized your book, you engaged with your readers and found many of them had questions for you about relationships. Why do you think that is? Did you have special insights to offer them from your own experience? What is the most common relationship problem people ask you about? What is your advice?
I think the reason that strangers who’ve read my book or my blog might feel so comfortable revealing things about themselves, is because I make no bones about my major role in the disaster I've often created of my life. And some mistakes are universal, so if you’ve made one of those universal mistakes, you can develop a wisdom of a sort, if you let yourself. Apart from that, people don’t often want to ask friends or family for advice, because they can come across as belittling or judgmental. I guess someone who doesn’t know you well is less threatening to take advice from. And also, there is the cross-cultural element to the story. With globalization and the internet, many more people are meeting people from different cultures and intermarrying.
Do you think cross-cultural relationships are destined to fail?
Not at all. Not if there is mutual respect not only from one partner to the other in a relationship, but also a respect for each other differences. Sure, it can make things harder, because when we marry, we can fight over small things like toothpaste brands, and that can be frustrating enough, but having to decide whether you’ll raise your children Christian or Muslim, or both, can be a lot tougher on a union.
What's the stupidest, funniest thing you did wrong in your marriage that you would like to share with others, and perhaps help them avoid doing in their own lives?
If you are thinking of marrying a man and then you discover that his mother not only still irons his clothes for him, but his underwear, pajamas and socks, too, DON'T MARRY HIM.
Do you think writing your memoir helped you cope with your own divorce?
Well, it helped me cope with myself and the decisions and mistakes I made.
Have you enjoyed talking about your experience while promoting your book on tour?
I actually have more enjoyed listening to readers talk about their experiences. When people say things like, "Your mom reminds me of mine," or "I had an experience in a church once like you had," I feel this sense of camaraderie with them.
Now you are remarried. How do you decide where to go for Thanksgiving? His relatives or yours?
(Smile) Oh, his, honey… definitely his.
What were the commonalities you found between the Greek culture of your first husband, and your own Italian - American background? What were the differences? Was this important in the dynamics of your marriage?
First generation Americans from the time period and socio-economic group from which I came had/have trouble with their identity. I didn’t ‘feel’ American, I didn’t ‘feel’ Italian, I didn’t want what my parents wanted for me, yet I wanted to maintain some of the traditions they’d brought with them to the United States. I was confused. And I explain in my book how that affected my choice of husband and the dynamics in our marriage. It’s a big part of what the story is about, in fact.
What hope and inspiration about life do you hope to offer women who may be facing relationship issues?
As hard as it may be, practice living without fear. Think about what you would do if you weren’t afraid. Start with something small, like taking a course that you think people will think is stupid, or that you think you might fail at. Once you get something small under your belt, work your way up to the bigger guns, like singing in public, doing whatever it takes to make your relationship a happy one, or failing that, getting a divorce.
What's next for Patricia Volonakis Davis? Are you working on another book?
Yes, I am - fiction this time. A murder-mystery/ghost story in fact. Total one-hundred and eighty. But of course, it still involves women, relationships, and food.
MEDIA CONTACT: For further information or to schedule an interview, please contact Susannah Greenberg Public Relations, (212) 208-4629, firstname.lastname@example.org
Causes Patricia Davis Supports
Make-A-Wish International, Girls Inc. The Palermo Protocols, Amnesty International, Valley of the Moon Children's Shelter, Brenda Novak's Online Auction for...