Cristina Tarantino is one of the first memoir authors I’ve had the privileged to interview and wow, does this woman get around! Not only a writer, Cristina does photography and creates journals as well. She’s filled with creative and spiritual insight and I hope you enjoy looking through her work as much as I have.
All of the pictures, besides my “Author Interview” picture above, are works of Cristina Tarantino. Enjoy.
Q. Let’s start off the way I always like to. Tell us a little bit about yourself, outside of your writing life.
My name is Cristina Tarantino, and I am 35 years old. I am married and have two boys. I am originally from Spain, but was born and raised in Germany. I thought growing up with two cultures was fun, until I married my American husband, and added yet another culture to my life. Being immersed into so many cultures is a blessing, since it has enabled me to be a very accepting and open person. I am also a very spontaneous person with lots of hobbies. Adventuring and traveling is one of them, which came in handy during my 13 years as a military wife, and is still a big part of my life today.
Q. Along with writing, you also draw and take part in photography. Which of your creative outlets do you find yourself more competitive than the others?
I would say that photography is the outlet I find myself more competitive in, since I most often compare my work to other photographers, and often forget that just like in writing everyone has their own style. I had to remind myself that to stand out one has to be different, and not the same as everyone else. This mindset helps me a lot when I am being creative.
Q. Judging by your twitter and blog, you travel quite a bit. Which location do you find yourself most inspired by?
I have to say that I feel happiest and most inspired when I am surrounded by nature, preferably mountains. We usually try to take trips every weekend, if it’s not to a neighboring European country, than to a neighboring town. Nevertheless, cities and their old architecture can also be an inspiration for me; however, I would go extremely early in the morning as to find it empty. During the day the city is just a bit too busy for my mind.
Q. As you say on your websites, English is your third language, with your parents from Spain, and having been born and raised in Germany. How have these many cultures influenced your writing and do you find yourself drawn to one more than the other?
Surprisingly enough I find myself most drawn to the American culture and the English writing. As far as being influenced, I think all three cultures have influenced my writing in different ways. Nevertheless, I feel that the political state in these countries have influenced my writing more than the culture has.
Q. You said you were creating a memoir based off your life while your husband’s been deployed. What do you find is the most difficult part of writing about your past?
Actually I find writing about my past extremely liberating. I feel as if I have bottled up all the stress, worries, and struggles I faced growing up, as well as before, during, and after my husband’s deployment, and can now finally let it all out through my writing.
Q. Many writers have to find a balance between family and their work. As a mother, how do you make time for your craft while working on your novel?
When my children were little I used their nap time, and the evenings, after they went to bed, to pursue my interests. Now that they are older I use the time they are in school to write and market my work. When I am busy with the kids, or my daily routine and something pops in my head, I just take out my phone record my thoughts for later when I have more time, and move on with what I was doing.
For my photography, I use our family weekend trips to take my pictures. Usually it’s a family affair where I propose a location, and my sons and husband either agree or disagree. If they disagree we just find another location. Beauty can be found everywhere in nature, so I am not very picky, and of course I am trying to make it fun for everyone.
Q. What do you find is the best part as a writer living the military lifestyle?
Well my husband separated from the military five years ago; however, when we were still living the military lifestyle I think the best part is getting to know new places and new people. I find meeting new people inspiring, since everyone has a unique life story. I think there is much we can learn from each other, much that could possibly influence our writing positively.
Q. You live a very active lifestyle. Hiking up mountains, taking long walks with your camera, and of course keeping up with your sons. What advice do you give to writers who are trying to spend less time in front of their computers and more time outdoors?
Spending time outdoors is extremely important for our mental well-being, and not to mention for our eyes. Sitting in front of the computer for hours, sometimes frustrated because of writers block, cannot be healthy. I would say set a goal for the day and stick to it, then go outside find a nice path to walk on or bench to sit on, and reflect. You can even bring a pen and paper, just in case that the fresh air and new scenery will inspire you.
10. Do you find yourself inspired by your boys’ interests when working on children’s books?
Although my boys are a bit too big for the children’s book I published, they were my inspiration. My children are growing up as American Muslims, and that in itself can be a bit of a challenge today. With them as inspiration, I wanted children of different faiths, race, and ethnicity to know that it is great to be different. I titled it “I Belong Here” because that pretty much sums it up.
Q. You created a journal for first time Muslims, titled My First Ramadan Journal. Tell us a little bit about it and what would you say is the hardest part in today’s world to live a more spiritual life?
My First Ramadan Journal is a journal I published for people to record their own experience when they fast 30 days for the first time, during the month of Ramadan. It can be fun and entertaining to read later on in life.
As far as the difficulty of living a more spiritual life goes, I think life as we live it today it quite distracting. We are constantly bombarded with the latest gadgets, cars, and brand names that we seemed to sometimes forget all the blessings that we already have. I think we just have to lose the feeling of entitlement, and become thankful.
Q. What made you want to write memoirs, and what part of your writing process do you take the most joy in?
Before my husband deployed I bought two journals. My plan was for my husband and I to write in them, and then send them to each other every other month. With such a long separation, 15 month, I figured that the small things would not come up in our phone conversations. So I wanted the journals to catch all those small things that we were missing in each other’s lives while he was deployed. Somehow we only sent the journals to each other ones, and after the deployment I kept writing into mine. With all those journal entries I thought it might be interesting for other people to read what I went through in my life, not just the deployment, but also my conversion, and other things that happened to me throughout my life.
As far as the writing process, I would say I enjoy the prewriting the most. Being able to read my old journal entries, and remember certain life experiences while writing them down is nice.
Q. Many writers have said the hardest part about the work would be the rewrites. What’s your editing process, and how much time do you spend reworking your novels?
My memoir is the first big project I have written. Although I have edited some parts, I have not officially finished it so the editing process that fits me is still to be determined.
Q. Who would you say has been the biggest help in realizing your dream as a writer?
I would say all the authors of all the books I enjoyed reading have helped push me into the direction of writing. (My favorite author would be Jane Austen, and I like the works of Bronte, just to name a few).
Q. On top of all your creative works, you’ve also designed “My Panic Journal”. How
do you hope this journal helps others, and what advice would you give to those who suffer from panic attacks?
In Jan of 2015 I had a panic attack while picking my son up from school. Since then I have been struggling to gain my independence back. Writing has helped me cope with this, and I thought I would provide a journal to possibly help someone else coping while writing.
My advice is to stay strong and let this experience in life make you stronger. Stay positive and try to get out of your comfort zone on a daily basis, this will make you more confident, thus more your old self.
Q. To wrap things up, tell us a little bit about what you’re writing next, and when you hope to accomplish it?
I am trying not to start any other big writing projects next to my memoir, since I think it would just delay the editing process and publishing date. Nevertheless, I am always trying to publish my picture e-books of my latest adventures, so stay tuned and follow me on Amazon.
Want to know more about Christina? Check out some of webpages and social media below!
Facebook: @imagesthroughmylens @tarantinoc @tarantinosart
Instagram: @tarantino_C & @tarantinosbooks
GoodReads: Cristina Tarantino