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Author Interview: Belinda D’Alessandro

I am happy to feature an Australian author this week, getting away from only seeing American authors for a change. Belinda has an interesting history and like many of us, begin writing as a hobby, but has now gone pro with her writing to the point where she is starting her own publishing house. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did.

Author Belinda D'AlessandroI’m Belinda D’Alessandro. My dad was born in Italy and moved to Australia when he was seven. My mum was born in Australia. My maternal great-grandparents were from both Scotland and Ireland and I have extended family in Italy, New Zealand, the United States and Canada.

I grew up in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast of Australia, and earned a law degree from Bond University in 1992. I worked in the legal profession for 15 years and I moved to Sydney, Australia in 2000 to take a clerkship with a Federal Judge and after he retired, I ran my own law firm for a number of years.

I started my own publishing company in 2007 and worked with other authors (with freelance book design services) to help them get their books published as I was publishing my own. I currently have a “second” job in banking and finance industry… well really to keep my cats, Violet and Charlie, in the lifestyle to which they wish to become accustomed – as “royalty” of the house.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing my first novel, Discovering Wounded Justice: Cruel Menace, as a hobby in 2007 while I was running my own law practice (which I’d started two years earlier), as a bit of an outlet during my “off hours” when I wasn’t working as a lawyer. But then it snowballed and I just had to write it; had to finish. The legal profession is a tough profession for anyone.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I suppose it didn’t hit me that I was an “author” until I saw the finished proof of my first book in my hand. But, looking back over my life, my parents got me started as a writer. My dad helped to start reading as a kid. English was his second language and he always challenged me to find better ways to express myself. My mum started her working life as an English teacher and she helped me to understand the beauty and precision of language.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The protagonist, Alyssa Giordano, is a first generation American, who’d been taught by her grandmothers and her mother that women were the equal of men and there was nothing that they couldn’t do. And Alyssa’s grandfathers, and her father, knew who really “ran” things.

A year into her career, Alyssa’s boss, Duncan Kennedy accuses her of some unethical behaviour and sacks her after she’d rejected his advances.

Alyssa finally gets her career back in order, she finally starts her own law practice and finds that roles are reversed. Kennedy is labeled a swindler and a leading journalist, a woman no less, holds his fate in her hands. But he vanishes in a cloud of lies and creditors before he can be brought to justice.

As Kennedy dies an untimely death, Alyssa’s faith in justice returns and she begins to believe she is rid of the man who almost destroyed her. Until the day he walks back into her life… and tries to take it.

What inspired you to write this book?

I started writing it as a way of dealing with the struggles of being a woman in the legal profession, a profession that, although things are changing for the better, was in some ways still a man’s game when I first started. My grandmothers, and the struggles they faced, also inspired me. My dad’s mum came to Australia 5 years after my grandfather did, with small children in tow, and they spoke no English when they got to Australia. My mum’s mum was in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II and when she returned to Australia from overseas service and married my Poppy, they both ran a sheep farm in Victoria. They’re both very strong women and had to struggle in different ways. They just have an essence about them, quintessentially Australian. They just take the knock on the chin, without complaining, and get on with it.

Do you have a specific writing style?

There are times when my writing style takes a “splatter-gun” approach, when an idea pops into my head and the words flow. Other times, I structure and outline like there’s no tomorrow.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The title came to me last. After I finished the first draft, I saw the potential to write a number of books with the same protagonist, Alyssa Giordano, a lawyer who “discovers” justice doesn’t always fit in with the law. I wanted the series titles, “Discovering Justice” to represent that.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Although my book is set in New York, I’ve written it with a bit of an “Aussie” attitude and spirit: toughen up and just get on with it – you can do anything you set your mind to.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Yes, I did draw on some of my own experiences working in the legal field for the book, but unlike the protagonist of the novel, Alyssa Giordano, I’ve never had a former co-worker try to kill me. I’ve worked with both good and rotten lawyers, and learned just as much, if not more, from the bad ones as I did from the good ones! Let’s just say the location and some of the names were changed to protect the guilty.

What authors have most influenced your life?

Tom Clancy – I love a bit of espionage. I’ve also read some of Ron Miller’s work in the “girl detective” genre. He’s an illustrator and author of over 50 books, mostly in the educational field but he also writes science fiction and in the crime thriller genre. He’s also given me some invaluable advice about what it takes to make a book, well, look like a book!

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I designed it myself, after taking some advice from Ron Miller, who I mentioned before. I chose a stock image from GettyImages from the Imagezoo collection as I had a limited budget at the time.

I understand that you are also a small print publisher. How did you get started in publishing? What are your plans for the future of your publishing company?

As I started writing my first novel, I also started my own publishing company (BDA Books) at the end of 2007 to publish it. I signed with another Australian author, Ray Bird, to publish his debut novel Why, Old Lady, Why?. It is due to be released in October. And I have a number of submissions on my desk to consider, so hopefully I’ll be able to sign with other authors very soon.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Keep reading! And search out independent authors!

Discovering Wounded Justice Cruel Menace book coverBelinda D’Alessandro
Sydney Australia

Discovering Wounded Justice: Cruel Menace, published by BDA Books

Cover illustration: GettyImages / Imagezoo

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