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Part skills lesson, part confession, part peptalk: this is my brand new radio interview on Your Book is Your Hook radio program, hosted by Jennifer Wilkov.  You'll recognize her as an expert-in-resident here at Pitch U!
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Claude Nougat: Writing in Every Language

Member Spotlight Interview by Minion Heather Webb.

Meet Claude Nougat!

Image of Claude NougatI currently live in Italy after roaming the world since the tender age of 16 months. Married for over 30 years to a wonderful Sicilian. Armed with an economics degree from Columbia University, I worked at all sorts of things (like Jack London!): in

  • banking (analyst, First National City Bank, New York),
  • publishing (editor, Harper & Row in Chicago),
  • college teaching (American University),
  • marketing (Coca-Cola),
  • development work (United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, where I finished as Director for Europe and Central Asia).

With the freedom that comes with retirement, I focus on what I love: writing, painting and (occasionally) cooking!

On the painting front, I participated in 15 group shows and had two personals. On the writing front, an Italian small press, E.Romeo Editore, published one of my novels, Un Amore Dimenticato, in 2007 to good local reviews. I am currently pursuing e-book publication of the Fear of the Past Trilogy.

So tell us a little bit about your writing passion: How long have you been writing and what do you write?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember: I used to put together a “newspaper” for my parents when I was a child, complete with travel advice and short stories! I grew up in many places (Sweden, Egypt, Belgium, Russia, France, Colombia, the US) and that gave me an unquenchable thirst for knowing the world, surely the reason why my blog is so eclectic.

My non-fiction writing is based on my MA degree in economics and my varied work experience both in the US and Europe specialized on rural development and fighting hunger.

Forget the Past:Book One of Fear of the Past TrilogyMeanwhile, I continued with fiction and wrote two books in Italian, a historical fantasy for adults and a children’s book, both traditionally published here in Italy where I live; now I’m working on making that historical fantasy available as an ebook, rewriting it in English under the title Fear of the Past, as a trilogy for Young Adults: book 1, Forget the Past, is already available on Amazon and other platforms and book 2, Reclaim the Present, is coming out this month – but I’m still looking for an agent for my women’s fiction! I never give up!

What’s your favorite part of what we do?  

I found your site full of precious advice about pitching, because, yes, I feel awful about pitching!

Even though I’ve been in this game for years now, I still have a lot to learn. I think it was Tolstoy who said, when asked to provide a summary of Anna Karenina, that he needed all the pages in his novel to express his Anna.

Pity I’m not Tolstoy who didn’t need to pitch! The trouble is: selling your book calls on a different part of your brain than writing it. You have to reduce 300 pages into two sentences. Ghastly!

PitchU is truly international! We love it. Thanks for being a part of what makes us great.


Have you participated in Pitch U’s PitchFests? Who would be your dream agent to pitch to?

I haven’t yet been able to participate in a PitchFest. I would love to, it would certainly help me hone my pitching ability!

My dream agent? Finding a partner and a friend!

A savvy partner for the business part and a friend who loves my work, believes in it (because I certainly need the support), yet is still able to provide me with constructive criticism. I welcome real critiques. I firmly believe that anything can be improved (including my English! French is my mother tongue and on occasion I stumble into “Frenchified” English).

I’m testing the e-book road with my Fear Trilogy but don’t get me wrong: I’m still looking for an agent for my women’s fiction!

Do you think pitching is a different skill from writing a query letter? Have you made a pitch video?

I think pitching uses the same skill as querying, the difference is that one is vocal (one line you throw at a person, the famous “elevator pitch”) while the other is written much like a normal business letter. And no, I haven’t made a pitch video. I know I should but I’m terrified of being filmed: I look awful on my photographs, and I can’t imagine how horrible I would look in a video. Scary!

Pitch University can help you overcome those fears! Be sure to connect with our minions or evil expert Diane Holmes for advice on how to construct the perfect video pitch. Also, check out examples in PitchU Articles.

How many conferences or writer’s events will you attend this year?

Living in Italy, I tend to look for events in Europe: travelling to the United States is something I would love, but it’s expensive! I’m attending the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy (29 September-2 October 2011) and I’m looking into several interesting possibilities coming up in the UK next Spring.

If you had a personal pitching motto, what would it be?

You’ll never get it right if you don’t keep trying!

To find out more about Claude, visit her blog to get an independent writer’s views on books, art and politics (and cooking!): or check out the Claude Nougat Daily: for a unique selection of articles, videos and photographs drawn by the computers from my Twitter stream. What makes it intriguing is the wide range of sources: from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, New Yorker, Bloomberg, CNN, Reuters etc., plus selected blogs. And of course, follow her on Twitter: @claudenougat!




by Heather Webb

Heather is a historical fiction writer, but dabbles occasionally in YA. When she’s not writing by the glow of her coffee pot light, she’s chasing her gremlins, ogling kitchen gadgets, sampling wine, or on an airplane to her next destination. Her “real” job is the Executive Director of New England Virtual High School, an online school for teens.

After discovering Pitch U, Heather became hooked to its invaluable columns and wonderfully supportive staff.  When asked to become part of the team, she was thrilled! This is THE PLACE to be. You can also find her on the web at herBLOG for writing tips, recipes, and pop culture rants or follow her on Twitter.

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