Italy with a Side of Mayo
Tonight our guest is Kelly Matczak, author of "Italy with a Side of Mayo." She currently lives in West Palm Beach, FL. We have conducted an interview with her.
What was the first experience that inspired you to begin writing humorous travel adventures?
I credit my first grade English teacher, Mrs. Cooper, for first building my confidence. She fed me the positive attention that I needed. I was hungry for it. This teacher’s support meant a lot as I was a child from a family of eight. Individualized praise at home was as scarce as the "good cereal" was an hour after it was brought home from the grocery store. Hearing that somebody liked what I wrote was a really positive feeling, so I focused upon it. I might want to mention that my early mentor was also good at teaching vocabulary. Being a woman of her word, she said to a wiggly student, "If you don't stop getting up out of your desk I am going to tape you to it!" She taught me the true definitions of figurative and literal while we watched her duct tape the defiant child to the seat. It was a pretty monumental day at school. No one was hurt during the incident, there was a lot of laughter, even from the child that was being taped to the chair and she got her point across. She taught me that words can have many meanings.
As for the travel related humor that morphed into “Italy with a Side of Mayo,” well, that just kind of happened. I have journaled most of my life, whether it was while I was traveling or not. After I stopped sugar coating my journals is when it became good. For years I would journal as if someone would read my words to judge me, so I censored a lot to protect myself. I would write in a fashion that I couldn't get in trouble for. Now I write knowing that I probably will get in trouble for most it, but I know someone gained a good laugh from it. That is worth the risk for me.
Which kind of materials/content do you read that makes you laugh the most?
I've always loved George Carlin's "Brain Droppings." I remember reading that in college and recognizing that George Carlin was not just a comedian, but a philosopher as well. He questioned life at its core, twisted it, made you laugh at it and then reinvented it.
Another read that I recently enjoyed was "Too Close to the Falls" by Catherine Gildiner. It was very relatable as I grew up not too far from Niagara Falls, where her book takes place, and had a similar upbringing. The humor is very clever and I thoroughly enjoyed each moment of it. Her characters are delightful!
How long did you take to write "Italy with a Side of Mayo"?
Total, it probably took four years, mainly because I buried it for three years. As I said before, I felt like this story would have repercussions and I was at a point in my life that I really wanted to publish, but not tick anyone off. I have some wonderful friends who got me an iPad for my birthday and the writing just poured out after that. I couldn’t stop. It was like someone turned on a faucet. After my mom passed away from battling breast cancer for the third and last time, I gained some moxie to finalize my story. I realized how short life is. Soon after, my wonderful editors, Jason Kisielewski and Caitlin Cantrell, presented themselves when I really needed them. These talented artists helped me sift through the content and refine it. Then it was born. It felt so exciting to give birth to this story.
Why do you think humor is important?
I think humor is one of the most important things in life. If you can't laugh through good times and in stressful times, then where is the joy? Humor is a tool that can make everything feel better physically and emotionally. It brings people together, fights depression, creates lasting friendships, softens tension and creates memories. It’s meaningful!
What is your secret in writing to literally make people laugh out loud so many times while they are reading your book?
My secret is being myself and writing as if I am talking to a friend that I trust to not judge me or snitch on me. That vulnerability allows for honesty. That honesty then allows for the humor because the guard is down. There is something to be said about the phrase “just be yourself.” Life is really too short not to do so. Anita Moorjani, author of “Dying to Be Me” and “What If This Is Heaven” is a huge influence in my life and my writing. I have to credit her for finishing what Mrs. Cooper started. She was the inspiration that gave me the final push to publish. The information she shares is uplifting and encourages people to share the gift of being you. I have always known I’m the weird, quirky, funny girl. I might as roll with it and have a good time and share my stories to make others laugh. So far my readers have seemed to get a kick out of it and that makes me really happy. To transport people to another place and make them laugh feels wonderful. I look forward to publishing two more books in the works to keep the laughter going.
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