Mary Hoffman, author of the wonderful Stravaganza series, answered a few questions that I’d love to post!

When and where did you get the idea for Stravaganza?
There is a full answer to this in the FAQs on the Stravaganza website, which I can’t improve upon.

Who does Stravaganza 4 feature?
Matt Wood, a seventeen-year-old dyslexic boy.

If you were a stravagante, where would you want to stravagate to? Under what position?
It would have to be Remora for me and I’d want to arrive in the Ram like Georgia. I’m travelling more conventionally to Siena on 13th June and we’ll be staying not far from the contrada of Valdimontone, which is the model for the Ram district in City of Stars.

What are you working on now, other than Stravaganza 4?
Stravaganza 4, City of Secrets, is all finished and printed. I am finishing writing Troubadour, another historical novel, set in the early 13th century. Then this summer I shall write another adult novel.

How long does it take you to write a book?
See FAQs on“That’s an unanswerable question. It depends how long the book is. White Magic took a year and a half, but the first drafts of Nancy No-Size and Amazing Grace were written in a day.”

How many Stravaganza books do you have planned?
Twelve but writing them depends on the publisher wanting to publish them, not on me.

What did you do before you were a writer?
I gave home tuition, in English and Latin, worked as a reading consultant for BBC Schools TV, taught English to bankers at evening classes and worked at the Open University writing courses for teachers about the teaching of reading. But all this was while writing books, until I could afford to stop everything except writing.

Which characters do you relate to most?
Silvia and Rodolfo.

Horses are very important in the Stravaganza books, especially City of Stars. Do you ride horses or own a horse?
No, but I used to go riding when I was about 12/13. I love horses but am just a bit scared of them.

What are you currently reading?
Books for the Guardian Children’s Book Prize, for which I am a judge, so I can’t tell you what they are. But next on my list after that are some Italian books I own but haven’t read yet.

What are some of your favorite non-fantasy books?
Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff.
Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atkinson
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Myth of the Goddess by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford

What makes you love Italy? Are you at all Italian?
I am a secret Italian. It must be somewhere in my DNA, don’t you think? Or perhaps I was Italian in an earlier life. My daughters are all dark, because my husband is half-Indian, so when we are in Italy everyone addresses themselves to them but I’M the one who speaks the language!

How do you divide your time between writing, reading, Armidillo magazine, your family and friends?
Very badly! I’m having a very tough and busy three months (nearly two-thirds through it) And after that I’ve promised myself not to get so over-committed again ever. And I’m giving up Armadillo at the end of this year.

Thanks for the interview!