ABOUT ADRIANA

“One of the reigning queens of women’s fiction.” –USA Today

“A comedy writer with a heart of gold.” – The New York Times

“Trigiani is a master of palpable and visual detail.” – The Washington Post

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Adriana works in her home office (Photo: Tim Stephenson)
Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for her bestselling novels including the blockbuster The Shoemaker’s Wife, the Big Stone Gap series, the Valentine trilogy and Lucia, Lucia.  Trigiani’s themes of love and work, emphasis upon craftsmanship and family life have brought her legions of fans who call themselves Adri-addicts (a term coined by book maven Robin Homonoff). Their devotion has made Adriana one of “the reigning queens of women’s fiction” (USA Today).

The New York Times calls her “a comedy writer with a heart of gold”, her books “tiramisu for the soul.” Her books have been translated in 36 countries around the world. Adriana has toured many of the countries, including South Africa, with annual visits to the United Kingdom.

On the set of Big Stone Gap (from left to right): Brandon Beaty, Rick Horne, Patrick Wilson, Adriana, and cinematographer Reynaldo Villalobos (2013) (Photo: Gavin McGuire)
Adriana wrote and directed the film adaptation of her debut novel Big Stone Gap, produced by the Academy Award winning producer Donna Gigliotti, shot entirely on location in her hometown, with an all star cast including: Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, Whoopi Goldberg, John Benjamin Hickey, Anthony LaPaglia, Jenna Elfman, Jane Krakowski, Judith Ivey, Mary Pat Gleason, Dagmara Dominczyk, Mary Testa, Paul Wilson, Chris Sarandon, and Jasmine Guy, with music by John Leventhal, and songs performed by his lovely wife, Rosanne Cash.  Glorious local talent perform on the soundtrack and act in the movie, sharing their gifts beyond the peaks of the Appalachian mountains. Earlier this year, Adriana went in-depth on the experience in an interview for St. Anthony’s Messenger. Big Stone Gap made its world premiere at the Virginia Film Festival on November 6th, 2014, opening the festival featuring over 100 films. 

 

The Today Show for Hoda’s 50th birthday celebration (2014) (Photo: The Today Show)
Adriana has made regular appearances on NBC’s Today Show for 15 years, loving her moments with Hoda and Kathie Lee. She was profiled on CBS Sunday Morning by Rita Braver, featured in a story by fellow novelist Lee Woodruff on CBS This Morning, and selected by Joy Behar for her summer read on The View. Adriana appeared in Mary McDonough Murphy’s PBS documentary, Hey Boo, as well as a documentary about the work of Jane Austen. She has appeared on WNYC’s The Leonard Lopate Show, NPR’s Diane Rehm Show and May Lily Lee’s Virginia Conversations.  In 2015, she will appear in The Italians for PBS which features scenes from her award winning documentary Queens of the Big Time. Adriana has been profiled by publications across the globe, including Publisher’s Weekly and Writer’s Digest

 

Adriana with Michael Patrick King at the London Film Festival (1996)
Her novels have been honored at home and around the world: In the UK, Richard and Judy selected Lucia, Lucia as one of their first picks in 2005. Adriana was thrilled when Richard and Judy chose The Shoemaker’s Wife for their 2012 list.  In Ireland, Lucia, Lucia was long listed for the IMPAC award in 2005. She has been a Library of Virginia Fiction nominee three times, winning for Home to Big Stone Gap in 2007, and a RUSA Award winner from the American Library Association for Very Valentine (click here to see the video of that hilarious evening).

Michael Patrick King tucked copies of her novels in scenes throughout the Sex and the City television series and movies. There’s a drinking game in South Bend, Indiana for the eagle-eyed viewers who spot the novels.

 

On the set of The Cosby Show (from left to right): Gordon Gartrelle, Dick Vitale, Jim Vallvano, Janet Leahy, Adriana Trigiani, Hugh O’Neill (1992)
Adriana’s non-fiction includes the instant New York Times bestseller Don’t Sing at the Table about the lives of her grandmothers, which was nominated for an Audi Award in the read by the author/memoir category.  For fun in the kitchen, she co-authored Cooking with My Sisters with Mary Trigiani, with contributions from their sisters and mom.  The book was featured at a New York Times culinary evening featuring Tyler Florence, Laurent Tourondel, and Rocco DiSpirito. Adriana relished her time as an ‘agony aunt’ when she wrote Ask Adri, a weekly advice column in The Irish Independent from 2007 – 2008.
Adriana on the run at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (1994) (Photo: Antonia Trigiani)
Adriana enjoyed a fabulous run as a writer/producer in series television. She was mentored by the great Bill Persky and worked for some spectacular showrunners, including Janet Leahy, Matt Williams, Alan Zweibel and Susan Fales-Hill. She wrote 15 pilots for wonderful actors including Jasmine Guy, Raven Symone and Mario Cantone. She was a writer/producer for The Cosby Show and A Different World and executive producer and showrunner of CityKids, for ABC/Jim Henson Productions. She also wrote and executive-produced Growing Up Funny, a television special for Lifetime which garnered an Emmy nomination for Lily Tomlin.  Moreover, Adriana wrote for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and a variety of television specials and series featuring great performers, including some of her all-time favorites: Madeline Kahn, Dolly Parton, Whoopi Goldberg, Laraine Newman, Marlo Thomas and Lily Tomlin, among others.

 

The Origin Project team in Big Stone Gap (from left to right): Rhonda Willis, Lacie Holmes, Adriana Trigiani, David Baldacci and Nancy Bolmeier Fisher (2014) (Photo: Eddie Kilbourne)
The Origin Project was established in 2013 with Nancy Bolmeier Fisher, who serves as Executive Director of the program. TOP is an in-school writing program that brings professional authors into the classroom to work with students on their creative writing skills – specifically, stories inspired by their own family history. The organization works in concert with a pool of brilliant, local teachers to bring the students and living authors of note together to guide and inspire the students’ creative thinking and process. In the spring of 2014, the project launched at Union High School in Big Stone Gap, Virginia with the great David Baldacci as its inaugural guest speaker.
The World’s Biggest Book Club (2011)
The World’s Biggest Book Club is a party thrown by the author as a thank you to her readers. Hundreds of readers rally together for the celebration, which is held in New York City and New Jersey.  Furthermore, Adriana Skypes and speaks with book clubs, library groups and classrooms 2 to 3 times a week from home.  Her novels have been selected for the book clubs at USA Today, People magazine and Target.  She was a Pennie’s Pick at Costco, an honoree of Shepherd University’s Appalachian Author Series, as well as a selection for the all-community reads in Ohio, Illinois, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee.
Adriana with the exquisite Diahann Carroll (2008)
As a mistress of ceremonies, Adriana has hosted The Library of Virginia Awards for nine years, the prestigious Poets and Writers Gala in New York City , the Audio Book Awards during BEA, and the Erma Bombeck Arizona Kidney Foundation Luncheon in Phoenix.

She has received citations from The Sons of Italy, honorary degrees from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame and the University of New Haven, and has given the commencement speech at University of Virginia at Wise. A seasoned lecturer, Adriana has also been a guest speaker at New York University and The New School for Social Research in New York City.

Young Adriana with her siblings
Adriana grew up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia in a big Italian family (with roots in northern Italy, the Veneto and Bari).  Her mother was a librarian, her father a garment manufacturer.  Adriana’s first professional writing job was as a news reporter for WNVA radio when she was 15 years old.  While she loved the job, it made her realize that she preferred writing for the theater, where her imagination and the facts could run wild.

Adriana lives in Greenwich Village with her husband, the Emmy award-winning lighting designer for Late Show With David Lettermantheir beloved daughter, Lucia; their rescue cat, Smokey Renee; and rescue dog, Lola Ruby Falls. Earlier this year, Adriana invited The New York Times for a peek into her work and home life (check it out here).

Play rehearsal with Mary Pigott, Patty Koch and Angela Wing (1980s)
While a student in the Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s Theater Department, Adriana was the first student to write and direct an original play on the mainstage with Notes From the Nile, a full-length play about the life and loves of Cleopatra.  In her review in The South Bend Tribune, Elizabeth Christman wrote,“I greet you at the beginning of a great career…this is the debut of stunning new talent…Trigiani’s talent is like an oil well that hasn’t been capped.” Trigiani received the William Mitchell Playwriting Award from the University of Notre Dame for her debut.

While at Saint Mary’s, she also founded, directed, wrote and appeared with The Outcasts, an all-female comedy troupe that began improvisational performances on the shuttle buses between the schools and grew into a musical variety show with sell-out performances in the university theater.

Adriana with The Outcasts in New York (from left to right): Beata Baker, Wendy Luck, Adriana and Mary Ellinger (1980s) (Photo: Steven Baker)
Adriana moved to New York City in the 1980s and into The Milbank House, a boarding house in Greenwich Village. She recast The Outcasts with comediennes in an open audition process in the garment district. They made their New York City debut at Upstairs at the Vesuvio Restaurant (proprietors Rosemarie and Tony Casciole and their son, Ernie, opened the club just for the group). From there, The Outcasts performed on the city cabaret circuit for 7 years, honored as AGVA’s Young Stars of Tomorrow and nominated for the MAC awards .  While Adriana worked with the troupe and wrote plays, her day jobs included: office temp on Wall Street, childcare/nanny (her young charge Emily Bliss became a Fulbright scholar, accident? Don’t think so), ticket seller at Cinema Village and phone installer for the Super Bowl.

Adriana with Roy Scheider, Constance Marks, and Brenda Siemer Scheider at the Hamptons International Film Festival (1996)
While living in the boarding house as a young playwright, Trigiani became an apprentice to Ruth Goetz (who wrote The Heiress with husband Augustus Goetz ) Ruth was introduced to Adriana’s plays by the stage director George Keathley. Trigiani met with Ruth every Saturday for several years for “gardening lessons,” Ruth’s self-styled, one on one playwriting tutorial.

Adriana made her off-Broadway debut in New York City as a playwright in 1985 at the Manhattan Theater Club with Secrets of the Lava Lamp directed by Stuart Ross. She wrote for the 52nd Street Project, was produced in regional theaters including a commission for a full length play from The Missouri Repertory Theater under George Keathley, and helmed a production at Jack Bettenbender’s Rutgers Summerfest of Ethel Zupp’s Amazing Cheesecake, directed by Ed Stern.

Adriana and Constance Marks on the set of Queens of the Big Time
Adriana sold her first screenplay, Three to Get Married, in 1986, with Kate Benton producing. When Adriana was given her grandfather’s 16mm films he had shot between 1936 and 1960, she brought them to the DuArt Labs in New York to be restored. From there, using his films as a narrative ribbon, she wrote and directed the documentary film Queens of the Big Time, the story of her father’s hometown, Roseto, Pennsylvania.  The film won the 1996 Audience Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival, tied for the same award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and was featured at the international festivals in London and Hong Kong.

Adriana’s grandfather’s films inspired her to write and direct movies; with the release of Big Stone Gap, his dreams and hers come full circle.

AND A LOOK FORWARD…

Adriana is writing a new epic novel, out in 2015.  She has been commissioned by the Cherry Lane Theater (Angelina Fiordellisi, Artistic Director) to write a new play. She is collaborating with Amanda Green on a musical. And if you love the movie Big Stone Gap as much as Adri thinks you might, well, there will be more movies too.

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