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In Conversation With Best-Selling Author Carol Gino Whose Me and Mario – Love, Power & Writing with Mario Puzo, author of The Go
From:
Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Montreal , QC
Tuesday, October 6, 2020

 

Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest New York Times andLos Angeles Times best selling author, Carol Gino RN, MA.

Carol has been a nurse,author and teacher for many years. She has worked in all areas ofnursing including Emergency Room, Intensive Care, the Burn Unit,Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics, Pediatric Intensive Care, and HospiceCare for the terminally ill.

Carol has appeared onmany television and radio shows including; The TodayShow,  Charlie Rose,  Houston Live,  Regis, AMLos Angeles,  AM San Francisco and she has beenfeatured in several publications: People Magazine, NewYork Magazine, American Journal of Nursing,  Nursing, andother Nursing journals.

Her first book, TheNurse’s Story was published by Simon and Schuster,sold to nine foreign countries and is still in printinternationally.  It was a feature of  the Book ofthe Month Club and Nurses Book Club. It wason Publisher Weekly’s list for six weeks and was#2 on the Los Angeles Times Bestsellers list.

 The Nurse’sStory was serialized in the New York Daily News, ChicagoTribune and Washington Post and the screenplaywas completed by Mario Puzo and submitted for a feature film or majorTV series.

Carol was the longtimecompanion of The Godfather author,Mario Puzo for over 20 years, until his death in 1999, and in 2001she completed his book The Family, which was published by HarperCollins. It was a best seller.

Her latest book, amemoir titled, Me and Mario – Love, Power & Writingwith Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, offers an intimate lookinto the man and the myth and the magic between them. Oftenfunny—sometimes raw—always true. It’s a journey of love,friendship and playful competition that pushed them both in life andwriting.


It was a creative partnership that spanned 2 decades. Filled with Puzo’s tips onstorytelling, fellow authors and writers-to-be will love thisinside-look into the mind and art of a legendary author and the woman who he chose as his closest friend and last love.

 Norm: Good day Carol and thanks for participating inour interview. 

What do you consider tobe your greatest success (or successes) so far in your career?


Carol: Norm, success issuch a funny word...for me, success is sharing my books which werewritten to give a voice to the voiceless...to tell stories thatshowed how in the most difficult situations many “ordinary”people act heroically.

I try to tell stories that show how we can be better human beings, because if any of us can, all of us can. Sort of like the 3 minute mile. I have a great gift ofbeing able to see the potential in most people and at a time of suchcynicism and distrust, I think it’s important to remind ourselvesthat each of us has a special gift.

Whether something is a gift or atragedy is a matter of perspective. I guess within all my books there is the message that we are all connected, and truly never alone. That anything that unites us is of value and anything that separates us isimmoral basically...so I write to honor diversity but also to showthe truth of our similarities. 

Norm: What has beenyour greatest challenge (professionally) that you’ve overcome ingetting to where you’re at today? 

Carol: The struggle to choose which stories to tell and which stories offer the most value.To honor the difficult challenges we all face, and yet to show thereis always a chance for learning or for a hopeful outcome. 

Norm: If you couldrelive a moment in your life, which moment would you choose and why? 

Carol: Norm, that’s so difficult...I have had so many amazing moments in my life...which isnot to say that my life wasn’t difficult because it was, but stillit was in perfect balance with the beauty life offered me.

I mean life did knock meon my butt more than once. I was a single mom with two kids. I had a couple of strokes, lung cancer, a grandbaby who died, no money, thenlots of money...but in each case there was also enormous beauty that balanced the hardship.

With the first stroke camea spiritual emergence and a completely different vision of life witha near death experience which saved me from many fears. With an operation, the lung cancer was cured, with the stroke, I was able tolearn to walk again. With the grandbaby’s loss, there came an angel...not saying that was the trade I would have made...but therewas a gift that helped me throughout all my life. 

But my favorite moment that I wish to relive?? I remember standing in a hospital corridor looking out the huge plate-glass windows as the red sun came up inthe red, red sky, making everything in the hospital lobby pink. Thesmell from the operating room came sneaking through the doors; came running up my nose screaming Hope. We were going to Save people! Wewere going to do Big things! At the beginning of that day, my firstworking day, I stood by the elevators, thinking, I'll never be this happy again. This is where I belong. Somebody should have turned meinto salt. (That was why I wrote The Nurse’s Story

But there is also another moment. I was with Mario (Puzo) on our way to Venice in a small motorboat surrounded by water everywhere. Suddenly, I saw this incrediblevision of a magnificent glimmering city begin to rise up before us. Like some magical sequined dragon, it glistened in the afternoon sun,still wet from the sea as though from its own birthing. Pastelcastles with luminous gold and silver rooftops appeared as we gotcloser. It was so magnificent, it took my breath away. Within me, atthat moment, something new had been born. I could see myself in timeand in eternity! (I write about that moment in Me and Mario

Norm: How do you getstarted writing and how long did it take you to get your first majorbook contract? As a follow up, why do you write? Do you have a theme,message, or goal for your books? 

Carol: I wrote because Ihad to. My passion was nursing, and caring for patients. I worked in hospitals for too long and knew that people needed information to make decisions about living and dying. But they seemed to be comingin on conveyor belts.

And I knew in order to touch enough people to change the healthcare system, I’d have to write to reach all those people who I would never have a chance totouch. In that book I told what was going on in the hidden corridors of hospitals. And tried to show the value of nurses as well aspatient rights. Now with HIPAA laws I would have been hung. Yetnothing much has changed. 

Norm: How many times inyour writing career have you experienced rejection? How did theyshape you? 

Carol: Well, my first book was picked up by an agent pretty quickly but I handed it in as a 750page manuscript which makes me laugh now. So it took a lot of cutting and rearranging before publishing. At the time, each of those edits seemed like a rejection. But when I wrote Rusty’s Story (atrue story about a girl with epilepsy who was wrongly diagnosed andlocked up in a mental institution) they wanted me to change theending and suggest that medicine “cured” her when that is notwhat happened.

But I couldn’t do it because I didn’t want other people to have hope when there is no real cure for epilepsy. I stood firm and allowed my contract with thepublishing house for the hardcover book deal go and settled for onlypaperback. I had to make that choice and it was a difficult choice.Between values and commerce. 

Besides that, when I wrotebooks about angels before angels were “in” as a New Wave genre,the books were rejected so many times, I had to open a publishinghouse of my own. 

Norm: In your opinion,what is the most difficult part of the writing process?

Carol: When I first get anidea for a book, it comes with all kinds of energy and excitement. Maintaining the energy and the belief in the story, trusting the process, and choosing to focus on one book or idea rather than allthe others is the biggest challenge for me.. 

Norm: Do you write moreby logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Pleasesummarize your writing process. 

Carol: That all depends on the subject. If I’m mission-driven like I was with The Nurse’sStory or Rusty’s Story or even Then An Angel Came,I was trying to educate people so that they could protect themselves from judging themselves harshly for information they didn’t have,in those cases logic was the prime motivator. But at some point inthe writing, my intuition tells me that for better storytelling,logic is often too dry and we need other elements to drive thestory...that’s where intuition comes in. 

Norm: How did youbecome involved with Mario Puzo and what was it like to collaboratewith him? 

Carol: I was taking care of his wife, Erika as a private nurse when she was dying at home.More accurately I was helping the family take care of her, when she was at home. I had already taken several courses in writing at NewSchool in NY and at Hofstra...so we spent lots of time talking aboutErika and about writing. 

Norm: What motivatedyou to write Me and Mario – Love, Power & Writing with MarioPuzo, author of The Godfather

Carol: It is a difficult time in transition of roles between men and women. I was an ardent feminist and Mario had written a book about the most romantic patriarchy ever. By any logic we should have disliked eachother...but I found his loyalty to his family admirable, and I was curious because the man who wrote The Godfather was so far removed from the true man himself.

When I asked how that happened, Mario said, “Oh, that’s not the man I am, that’s theman I’d like to be. It’s an Olympian myth my dear.” 

All I said was “My dear?Ugh!” 

Norm: Could you tellour readers something about the book? 

Carol: Me and Mariois really a look at a man who was bigger than the myth he wrote.Strong women are looking for men who will love them for who they arewithout having to betray themselves, and I believe young men are nowlooking for a map of the whole man of tomorrow. Mario had bothqualities.

He could stand for himself without knocking anyone else over. He was the only man, who overtime, enchanted rather than disenchanted me. Besides, we made each other better. The book is all about what we taught each other about Love, Life, Power and writing. I was a nurse so I was familiar withthe “mysteries” and he was a writer who taught me carpentry ofwriting. :) 

Norm: What was thetime-line between the time you decided to write your book andpublication? What were the major events along the way? 

Carol: About 3 years. I had started writing stories that I showed Mario...but he was not one to give advice. He always said “You can’t teach writing but itcan be learned…” When he saw my stories, he said, “You havetalent, you have a voice...but I wouldn’t want anyone I loved to bea writer..it’s too tough a job..” 

I just made a face..andsaid, “I’m a nurse… 

Ah…”he said…”Okay,take a shot.” 

What changed? Erika died.I got divorced. I kept nursing. And I kept writing... 

Norm: What is the mostimportant thing that people don't know about Mario, that they need toknow? 

Carol: That he was hurt that most people thought he was a “mafia” guy. Mario struggled financially until he was 45 years old, when he wrote TheGodfather. Before The Godfather, Mario wrote two books,The Dark Arena and The Fortunate Pilgrim, which became literary classics and yet made no money. But, the most important thing that people don’t know about Mario? Perhaps, the most important thing to know is that when Mario was dying, I asked himwhat the most important thing he’d learned during his lifewas...and he said, “Never harm another…” 

Norm: What purpose doyou believe your book serves and what matters to you about the book? 

Carol: I wrote it as a homage to a very good man. I hope it will offer hope to those people who stick by their passion in spite of all the obstacles. And maybethey will learn what I did about writing and what each of us learnedabout relationships. 

Norm: What would yousay is the best reason to recommend someone to read Me and Mario

Carol: If they need to understand themselves, and need hope in Life. If they need to knowthere are miracles and that sometimes life is awesome...and sometimes terrible. But any one person can change another’s life and changethe path to their tomorrow. 

Norm: Are you workingon any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We wouldlove to hear all about them!)

Carol: I have several I’mworking on now..:) One is called How to Feel Safe in an UnsafeWorld, another is called Not Just a Stroke I’ve started,My Soul Has No Wrinkles, and have to finish The Azurite andall my Rashana stories which are new tales for a new time. 

Norm: Where can ourreaders find out more about you and Me and Mario

Carol: I have a FACEBOOK PAGE

MY WEBSITE  where readers can download afree chapter of Me and Mario. We have a fun free virtual eventon October 15 in honor of Mario’s 100th birthday - anyone who is interested can register at meandmario.com and can join thecelebration. I will answer questions live and give away free prizes. 

I also have an INSTAGRAMaccount or they can write to me at admin@carolgino.com. Readers canfind all my books and projects at CAROLGINO.COM

Norm: As this interviewcomes to an end, if you could invite three writers, dead or aliveinto your living room, who would they be and why? 

Carol: Dostoyevsky becausehis characters were so rich and the books share a culture I knewnothing about. Doris Lessing because I think we need a new narrativefor a new time. Alice Walker who wrote The Color Purple andToni Morrison who wrote Song of Solomon. 

Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors Carol: Thank you somuch Norm!

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