I recently received an email that made me wonder whether I had just met “Jo March.”
A newly established publisher of variations of the classics, Daniela Mastropasqua struck me as someone as passionate about books as Jo.
Amused by the idea that I might have met Jo from The Courtship of Jo March were she a twenty-first century woman living and working in Italy (or at least someone she might have been friends with), I asked Daniela whether she was Team Laurence or Team Bhaer. Of course I asked other important questions like how one goes about establishing a publishing house and tips she might have for young Jo Marches. Graciously, she answered my barrage of inquiries.
How did you come to develop an interest in variations of the classics?
The classics accompanied my adolescence, marking my romantic soul irreversibly. It was only in adulthood, however, that by chance as I was looking for works to read in their original languages, I learned that there was an entire literature dedicated to variations. I began to read more, and became and more fascinated by how authors invented new endings as a tribute to the original authors.
As a romantic, are you Team Laurence or Team Bhaer, or neither? (And why?)
Team Laurence, of course. Like a true romantic, I feel love should be requited. The truth is that when Jo refused it, my heart broke. During my first reading of Little Women I got angry with Jo.
How did you go about starting your own publishing house and why?
My publishing house was born during a period of profound change in my life. Once I became a mother, in fact. I didn’t feel like going back to my old job which took me out of the house from morning to night, and I decided to dedicate myself to my true passion. For years, I have been working as editor and translator for various publishing houses, so I simply thought that the time had come to set up my little reality. The choice to publish variations was then natural, given my desire to make this genre known to the Italian public who loves classics.
When did you first read The Courtship of Jo March?
It was pointed out to me by other readers who are passionate about variations. I first read it three years ago.
Any favourite scenes?
I reserve the right to answer this question once I have finished translating it! 😉 I remember I was very impressed that it was able to move me like Little Women. I found it to be a well written, sparkling and lively work.
Do you have a favorite classic novel? If so, what is it?
I swing between Little Women and Pride & Prejudice. Little Women was the first classic I read. I’m fond of it because it reminds me of the little woman I was when I read it for the first time, the dreams I had, the expectations for the future. I believe that the classics teach us to dream, and this is why I like them so much. Pride & Prejudice, on the other hand, I read as a teenager. It was nice to know love through the words of Aunt Jane.
Any favourite scenes from Little Women?
In Little Women there is an atmosphere of familial warmth that runs throughout and makes the whole book special. Perhaps the scene of all the March sisters reading their father’s letter.
Which of the March sisters do you relate to personally the most, if any?
To Jo, of course, for her passion for books, her determination. But, the truth is that I would like to have a characteristic of all the March sisters: I would like to have Meg’s beauty, Beth’s sensitivity, Amy’s flair and…Marmee’s patience.
What are 3 pieces of advice you’d give to aspiring young authors/editors/translators?
Read!!! And not because it will serve you for your work, but because it will serve your person. I read an average of three books a week, a little less since I became a mother, and I live the lives of all the characters I meet. It is a continuous enrichment that really saves your life.
If a reader out there wanted to apply to join your team – as in, work with your publishing house – how would you like them to approach you?
As a new publishing house we are looking for authors who believe in our project, translators and, above all, readers who want to dream with us. Anyone interested can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media.
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