teaching and writing: Immersion in the Female Universe
Interview with Federica Storace
by Maria Teresa De Donato
Today I have the honor of hosting, here on my Blog and Virtual Cultural Salon, a person who immediately impressed me for her grace and sweetness. She is a very sensitive and intelligent woman and professional, beautiful inside and out, hence I am very pleased to introduce her to my readers.
I am speaking about Federica Storace, Genoese, author of many publications that we will be considering today.
I wish you all a good reading.
MTDD: Hi Federica and thank you for participating in this interview.
FS: Hi Maria Teresa. Thank you for hosting me on your Blog and Virtual Cultural Salon: the honor is mine.
MTDD: Federica, why don't you start by introducing yourself and telling us who you are, about your studies and profession and whatever else you wish to share with our audience?
FS: Happy to do so. I am Genoese, married, mother of two grown children, literature teacher and writer. Passionate about the humanities, I attended the Liceo Classico and the Faculty of Arts. I then obtained the teaching qualification for literary and philosophy subjects.
I am ... unstoppable in affections, passions ... I like reading, writing, traveling. I love beauty in all its forms: works of art, the wonders of nature, good food, friends and hugs, every small gesture of tenderness ... I am a member of a non-profit organization IL NODO SULLE ALI DEL MONDO (www. sullealidelmondo.org) which deals with interculture, education, support projects for young people in difficult situations both in Italy and abroad ...
MTDD: From teaching you then ended up writing. How did it all happen in your case, spontaneously and just as suddenly or rather did the desire to write slowly develop within you until you decided that it was time to work on a publication?
FS: I… entered the publishing world in a spontaneous, almost casual way. I wanted to write to tell the adventures of our family dealing with small children and the thousand logistical and organizational needs as well as the profound experiences related to becoming parents. Thus was born my first book, an irresistible novel, La famiglia non è una malattia grave, published by San Paolo Edizioni in 2007.
MTDD: Your books have not only nice covers, but also and above all titles that intrigue or at least catch the attention of potential readers. Some of them seem to have been inspired by your profession and consequent experience as a teacher: Scialla e poi splendi, Banchi di squola (with the provocative 'q' used instead of 'c'), Impossibile ma non troppo and La famiglia non è una malattia grave.
How did you come up with these titles and what are the themes you consider in these publications?
FS: Of course as for the titles we have let our imagination run wild! I use the plural because I have always researched the titles of my books together with the Publishers, asking for advice ... to my children and, in the case of Scialla e poi splendi, to my students. Originality is important because the title and cover of the books are the first "elements of impact" that may attract the readers.
Banchi di squola (Macchione Editore 2010) and Scialla e poi splendi (Placebook Publishing & Writer Agency 2019) certainly refer to my teaching experience. In the first book I approached the subject as a parent, in the second one as a teacher. While Banchi di Squola is a novel that can be considered the ‘sequel’ of the first, Scialla e poi splendi is, instead, a collection of stories, true stories, inspired by the events shared daily with my students or with people I met thorugh volunteer activities. Each short story deals with a problem that our young people often have to face. Hence, they relate to issues such as bullying, anorexia, addictions, bereavement, learning disabilities ... in a perspective, however, of hope because, despite the difficulties, the younger generations have the right to be able to follow their dreams, shine, and to become happy, mature and responsible people to the fullest extent they can.
Impossibili ma non troppo. Storie di cuore e fantasia (Elledici Editrice 2017) is one of my ‘special’ books. The first in which I experimented with short stories and the first I co-authored with another writer, Anna Maria Frison. Essential stories, ‘disguised’ as fairy tales or fables, which, however, address current issues related to young people, their dreams, expectations, fears ... The red thread that unites these very different stories is the Impossible that, against all expectations, thanks to courage, solidarity, tenacity, can turn into possible and radically change our life. For the better.
For me and Anna Maria the impossible becoming possible is linked to our experience and personal sharing because Anna Maria was sick with Parkinson's so writing this book was a challenge for her, a test of courage against the progress of the disease and, at the same time, the desire to prove that love makes life a wonderful adventure in spite of everything, especially when loving each other takes place through sharing ...
And I also learned the importance of essentiality, the regenerating touch of tenderness, the great value of the dignity of existence even when it becomes fragile and precarious ... I shared a deep emotional relationship with Anna Maria, built on the mutual gift of what we had in common and our differences. Our being different women and mothers but united by an indissoluble bond that made us ... mother and daughter.
Even from a professional point of view, the experience of collaboration with the then General and Editorial Director of Elledici Published and his staff was, for me, fundamental because I was able to learn a lot, humanly and professionally: a ‘heritage’ I shall never cease to be grateful for.
MTDD: Your latest work is Madri per sempre. Donne raccontano maternità possibili. The theme of motherhood is very important and represents a particularly delicate aspect both for women who choose, or in any case have the possibility of having children, and for those who, despite their great desire, unfortunately have difficulties - for one reason or another - to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term.
Where does your desire to write this book come from and how can this publication be of help to female readers?
FS: I had long wanted to write about women and motherhood. A fundamental, essential aspect of my life. An experience shared with Anna Maria especially in our different way of living motherhood. For me, at the same time, biological and ‘spiritual’, for Anna Maria identified with the choice of chastity since she had responded to the vocation of the consecrated life. Two different experiences but equally lived in unison and in fullness. When Anna Maria died a few months ago, the desire to write this book became a need to tell and remember.
After all, as someone said, you write so much to write only the shopping list because then you throw it away. Everything else that is translated into words comes to life to communicate a message to others.
Of course, Madri per sempre is not limited to narrating our personal story. It is a real journey into the female universe, of the typical characteristics of femininity that make significant contributions to society. I tell about special women whose stories will thrill readers and I have included four interesting interviews with as many special women.
I believe that readers will appreciate the originality of the book that ‘mixes’ different textual genres but above all the contents, the passion that emanates from each page, the profound relevance of the interviews.
Madri per sempre offers readers a different interpretation on the world of women and on motherhood, indeed on motherhood, and more. It crumbles prejudices, it amazes ... At least these are the first feedback I received from those who have already read it and appreciated it very much.
MTDD: I would like you to explain the second part of the title of your book: why "possible motherhood"? What exactly did you want to highlight with this expression?
FS: That motherhood is, indeed, possible, in a thousand different ways, even without having children ‘in the flesh’. That of motherhood is a reality that can be declined, lived, experienced in many realities disconnected from the purely generative dimension but equally authentic and significant.
MTDD: Life is sacred and the very conception and consequent development of the fetus in the womb until delivery have fascinated since the dawn of time and, despite the detailed medical-scientific explanations, still remain among the Great Mysteries of Life.
What are some aspects that are particularly important to you about 'motherhood' and that you have tried to communicate in all possible ways through your publication?
FS: The mystery of life and of generating life that is so unique and special, reaches horizons so wide, and goes far beyond medical-scientific explanations. Giving birth is possible in many ways and women's wombs are fruitful when they are welcoming, when they make room for life not only in a physical sense ...
MTDD: Female universe, womb, motherhood, and community are aspects that are firmly anchored to each other and equally intertwined with one other. Ancient cultures and civilizations, native ones, and especially those based on matriarchy, have always shown a greater awareness and sensitivity about these dynamics, unlike the more developed nations in which they often seem to have been forgotten.
Did you address these issues in your book? And if so, in what terms?
FS: Yes, I dealt with them in the first part of the book in which I considered the cultural, social, economic, spiritual aspects of the female condition over the centuries as well as the relationship with man.
I made an excursus that is not intended to be an essay but a shared reflection with the desire to offer new food for thought starting precisely from the man/woman relationship in society yesterday and today. Evolutions and involutions, conquests and defeats, extraordinary women, perhaps little known of, who, with their lives, have left indelible marks in history ...
MTDD: In part of the synopsis of Madri per sempre. Donne raccontano maternità possibili we read “… women, their particular sensitivity, motherhood, and the different motherhoods that are expressed in many, creative paradigms of deeply lived experiences. Lives and events that can regenerate society, ... and contribute to the common good ...”
For those who need further help or clarification…: How can such maternity experiences “regenerate society”?
FS: It can do so above all by bringing our fragile and deeply in crisis society back to a process of humanization that is dangerously losing its way with very serious consequences for the present and the future. In fact, an egocentric and indifferent society is not destined to develop its full potential.
The various ‘tangible’ ways are described, for example, in the four interviews. Four consecrated women, despite not having generated children, speak to readers through me and explain their living motherhood as a ‘tool’ to regenerate society.
Sr. Alessandra Smerilli, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, economist, university professor, councilor for the economy at the Vatican Council of State, is the woman of economics and care,
Sr. Gabriella Bottani, Comboni missionary, social educator, international manager of the Talitha Kum network that fights human trafficking in 92 countries around the world, is the woman who defends human dignity at ... 360 degrees,
Mother M. Emmanuel Corradini, Benedictine nun, Abbess of the Monastery of San Raimondo in Piacenza, and who, before choosing religious life, was an infectious disease physician, is the woman led by Grace because she lives motherhood in the light of a spirituality which, however, concretely inhabits reality,
Sr. Caterina Cangià, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, known as SisterNet, university professor, expert in multimedia applied to teaching, larger then life, and with a thousand resources, is the woman who has translated her life into a passion for education through the media and he world of communication.
MTDD: The desire to become parents is a characteristic that not all, but certainly many men and women have in common.
Those who are not parents and perhaps will never have the opportunity to become such unless they opt for adoption, how will they benefit from your work?
FS: They might do so, by just knowing the stories of so many women and men who have lived the experience of ‘parenthood’ even though they are not mothers and fathers from a biological point of view.
Madri per sempre (Mothers forever), which is not a book for women only, offers numerous food for thought and various life experiences on this theme.
MTDD: Who could be interested in this book of yours and did you target a particular group of readers?
FS: It is a book that is intended for adult readers. I didn't think about a particular audience because it deals with current topics that can greatly interest a wide audience.
MTDD: Those who wish to get in touch with you or just buy one of your publications, how can they do so?
FS: My books can be purchased in bookstores and on online platforms or through the websites of the various publishing houses.
Anyone wishing to get in touch with me can do so through my Facebook page:
Or by contacting me via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also have an Instagram profile: just look for Federica Storace.
I always answer and with great pleasure. If readers would like to have the books with a dedication, they can contact me and we will make the due arrangments.
MTDD: Thanks Federica for participating in this interview. It has been a great pleasure. I hope to have you again as my guest in the future.
FS: Maria Teresa it is I who thank you for your availability and professional competence ...
I believe, if that is ok with you, that I might be able to be your guest again, from March onwards, as soon as my next book is published. An exciting story for children, Il ladro di sogni (The thief of dreams) by Tomolo Publisher, which has already been launched, as a preview, at the Italia Book Festival and at the Barcelona Book Fair.
Thanks again and congratulations for your valuable work.