Interview with Juliet Grames

By Shelagh O’Neil (’20) and Hope Winkin (‘21)

Photo by Nina Subin from
Photo by Nina Subin via

Students Shelagh O’Neil and Hope Winkin conducted an interview with Grames to not only discuss her novel, but also her writing process and any advice she would give people who are interested in writing their own novel one day.

When asked about the writing process and how long the novel took to complete, Grames stated that her process involved a lot of note taking, the pre-plotting of each scene before writing, and then researching and conducting numerous interviews starting in 2011. Another key component in completing this story involved traveling to Ellis Island, Italian ghettos in Hartford, Connecticut, and living in Iveoli, Italy, the first location of the story. By going through this extensive writing process, Grames knew that when her story was completed, she did everything in her power to tell the story of her grandmother.

After discussing her writing process, Grames touched upon the importance of this story and how completing it with every detail, including some that talked difficult subjects like rape, was necessary. At one point in the novel, Stella is raped by her husband in the bathroom while on their honeymoon in Canada. Grames expressed how difficult it was to write and talk about the sexual abuse of her grandmother, but without these tough moments in the novel, she stated, “I do not think the book could have survived without it.” By including these moments, Grames knew that she would not only be defending her grandmother who experienced a tragedy that was viewed as nothing during this time period, but she also wants to defend other women who were abused in this same way and express the wrongfulness of this abuse.

“Abuse is passed down through generations and victims are made. Their damage can be passed on if you do not talk about it which is why I knew I needed to include this in the novel.” -Juliet Grames

Juliet’s concluding thoughts and advice

By the end of the interview, Grames expressed the great joy she had towards her story and that there was nothing that she would change about it. To conclude our discussion she provided advice for any aspiring writers:

“Editing is everything for new writers… edit edit edit. Just don’t give up, it is a lot of work and it is hard, but always write.” -Juliet Grames

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