Interview with Author Stef Smulders

My guest today is author Stef Smulders. Hello! Welcome to Writing in the Modern Age! It’s such a pleasure to have you here.

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it? latest book is actually the translation of my first book in Dutch, about our (me and my husband’s) adventures when we came to live in Italy. It is a collection of short stories, vignettes about all the things and problems you encounter as an expat, but in a humorous tone. It is not a guidebook, but intended to amuse although there's a lot of info contained in it. The Dutch original appeared in 2014, the English translation only just now. The paperback is available at Amazon, the ebook at other retailers (Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google, et cetera) but also about to appear on Amazon.

So, is there anything which prompted Living in Italy? Something that inspired you?

We wrote a very extensive blog when we moved to Italy eight years ago, and I always had the idea that it might be converted into a book. It turned out to be more difficult than I originally thought, but once I found the ‘formula’ on how to do I wrote it in two months’ time.
Wow! That's pretty impressive!

When did you know you wanted to write? Or has it always been a pastime of yours?

I am a late convert. I suspected I could write as in my work I had to write research reports and composing these was always surprisingly easy for me. I wrote some childhood memories fifteen years ago but felt very insecure about these. Then the Italy adventure started and writing the Dutch book gave me the real boost, so now I am in full swing. I rewrote the childhood memories in a form that I am much more confident about and found a publisher. I published a second volume of Italian stories and wrote a third one, to be published next spring. More ideas are bubbling. I would like to have a go at fiction and satire, but that’s another cup of tea. Again, I’ll have to find the courage to take the plunge.
Oh, I know...once the writing bug catches you, there's no stopping it. ;)
Do you have any favorite authors yourself, Stef?

Tim Parks’ novels about Italy actually inspired me to write the Italy books. I wanted my books to be like his. I hope I managed it!

More in general, I admire Ian McEwan for his style, Coetzee for his intriguing parables, Nabokov for his short stories, but there are a lot of lesser known modern authors I like as well. Short stories are a genre I love, especially Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and many more.

All right. you write in a specific place? Time of day?  

Not a specific time but always in a chair in the study, to reduce disturbances of TV and the like. I usually write about 1,000 words in one sitting of an hour and a half.

Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers? Any advice?

Take the plunge and write. These are exciting times, as you can be assured your book will get published if only through the self-publishing canals. The possibilities of INDIE authors in the English-speaking market are much, much better than those of Dutch self-published authors at home, I’ve noticed. So take your chance and do it!
Thanks for offering those words of wisdom to our readers, Stef. 

And thank you so much for stopping by to visit us here today at Writing in the Modern Age. It was wonderful having you!  :)
Readers, here is the blurb for Living in Italy: The Real Deal.


The experiences and adventures of two Dutchmen and their dog in Italy.

"A thoroughly entertaining read and a unique introduction to ‘the Italian way’!"
(Readers' Favorite)

"Smulders' storytelling artistry is wildly entertaining."
(Blogcritics and Readerviews)
In 2008, the author emigrated to Italy, bringing husband and dog along, to start Bed & Breakfast Villa I Due Padroni. But a lot of hurdles had to be taken before the first guests could be accommodated. In 2014 Stef reported about his adventures in buying and reconstructing the house, obtaining a tax number and a bank account, registering at the commune and at the National Health Service, importing their car and a range of other things that lead to a myriad of bureaucratic troubles. These problems were always resolved in a truly Italian fashion, leading to raised Dutch eyebrows and hilarious scenes. As a reader you will encounter a range of characteristic Italians, from sympathetic to villainous, from moving to shameless. Real Italians of flesh and blood, sometimes cliché, sometimes surprisingly original. But always worth encountering.


What people are saying about the book:




"Finished it in one go!" 


"What a great book!" 


"a comical, often downright hilarious account"

"Stef writes in a style all his own that keeps you riveted and thoroughly entertained."

"the true essence of the Italian people without falling into the usual stereotypes"

"A subtle, humoristic and striking portrait of Italy.” 

"Recommended for anyone curious about Italy, who wants to learn to know the real Italian life.”

"Enjoyable from the first page on. Wonderful description of the Italian adventures.”
Here is an excerpt. 

When we bought our home nine months ago it was ready to move into. And now? 
We are shipwrecked in the kitchen of the downstairs apartment. A single sheet of plastic between the hall and the sitting room is the only thing that protects us from the heavy dust of the building site. All day, we are assaulted by the sound of workmen shouting, drilling and hammering. A couple of hours ago the electricity cut out and it’s starting to get chilly in here. Every evening we escape upstairs via the dusty, grimy staircase, where we try to find solace by watching TV in our future living room. The living room is also separated by a sheet of plastic from the kitchen, the bedroom and the office. There are gaping holes in the walls in all of these three rooms, made weeks ago in preparation for the doors and a new window. Now they are serving as tunnels bringing in the draught and the cold. Exhausted and numbed from the endless turmoil surrounding us, we are staring out into space in silence. 
We are hardly aware of what’s on the screen. 

Purchase Links:


Amazon Universal link:

Barnes & Noble:




It certainly sounds intriguing!

We'll be sure to check out this humorous travel book!



Author Bio


Stef Smulders was born in The Netherlands in 1960 and moved with husband Nico and their dog to Italy in 2008 to start bed-and-breakfast Villa I Due Padroni in the beautiful wine region Oltrepò Pavese south of Milan. In 2014, he published his first volume of short, anecdotical stories (in Dutch) about daily life among the Italians entitled Italiaanse Toestanden. It was well received by readers, leading to a second volume of witty anecdotes. A third volume is to be published spring 2017.  


Author Links: 


Stef's Books:

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