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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Interview: Terri Kraus

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Terri Kraus, author of the Project Restoration series. Terri has co-authored eleven books with her husband Jim and now has added her interior designer’s eye to her world of fiction. She and Jim have remodeled, renovated, and restored three residences of their own, plus she’s worked with many talents on their homes.

Terri shared with me she’s been an avid reader from an early age—to the extent of reading under the covers with a flashlight after her lights were supposed to be out! As she walked back and forth to school, she would make up stories and “published” a neighborhood “newspaper” when she was in the fifth grade. And, she was blessed to have an incredibly gifted English teacher, Miss Fina, in high school. “[She] really got me going on my writing,” she told me. “”She was so excited about literature that it was contagious. So, I’ve been writing ever since I can remember.”

Terri is currently working on the story of an artistic Italian-American young woman, set mainly in Italy during World War II. “I absolutely adore researching and writing historical fiction,” she said. “Since I’m 100% Italian and passionate about all things Italian, I’m really having fun with this one!”

In addition to her writing, she’s also the founder of a book club. The group has a particular interest in reading about women in other cultures. They have just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Husseini, and she’s just started The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. The next book the group will be reading in The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig. She added, “There is a stack of at least eight more books on my night stand, outside of my book club reading! So many books, so little time!”

Terri’s office is just off the foyer of their house in Wheaton, Illinois, and has two large floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the street. “I just got new furniture,” she said, “which consists of a large black work table/desk and 2 long matching cradenzas. I sit in a very comfortable Aeron chair and work on a Mac OSX laptop computer. The walls are being freshly painted in a lovely robin’s egg blue. The space is decorated with favorite artwork, framed family photos and other cherished accessories, and Petey the cat will often lie across my desk while I’m working, just to keep an eye on things. My vase is usually full of fresh flowers, which energizes me. I have an additional work space for my artistic endeavors in our lower level.”

When Terri’s not writing, she enjoys photography, quilting, knitting, and cooking/baking. She and her family enjoy traveling, so she’s always planning their next trip. They’ve traveled extensively throughout Europe, the South Pacific and the Caribbean. She also loves exploring Chicago with her family.

One of her trips took her to New Zealand and, while on a farm stay there, she ate a dinner of lamb, freshly slaughtered that very afternoon. She said, “It was incredible.” Another thing she enjoys eating is pizza, especially true Italian pizza. She told me her favorite pizza comes from a little local Italian place near her. “They make the most incredible pizza,” she said, “with fresh tomato sauce, whipped/seasoned ricotta cheese in mounds and Italian sausage topped with mozzarella. The dough is not thin and not thick—medium, just right, and crusty around the edges. Heaven!” She also told me that her least favorite were Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza, calling it “a real travesty to any Italian!”

She comes from her love of true Italian food honesty. Both of her parents’ families came from a northern Italian province called Le Marche. It is, she said, “a very beautiful place; a lot like Tuscany, but without the crowds.” Be sure to visit Terri at her website: http://www.terrikraus.com.

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