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SMC alumna visits campus to host special writing classes

Meaghan Daly | Friday, April 20, 2012

New York Times-bestselling author Adriana Trigiani, class of 1981, will come to Saint Mary’s April 26 and 27 to share her experiences in the “Golden Age of Televeision.” Trigiani will be joined by television producer, director and actor Bill Persky in two master classes for Saint Mary’s students.

Trigiani said she is known for her best-selling “Big Stone Gap” series, the novel “Lucia” and her latest book, “The Shoemaker’s Wife.” Before she focused on writing books, she began her writing career in television with Persky, she said.

Trigiani said she started as part of the writing staff for Persky’s television show, “Working it Out.” She also worked as a writer-producer for the “Cosby Show,” a show runner for “City Kids” and for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Trigiani said the impact Persky has had on her goes beyond working together for television.

“Above and beyond that wonderful piece of luck, I became dear friends with his daughter Dana, and then [his] twins Jamie and Liza,” Trigiani said. “Through the years, he evolved from mentor to family for me. I adore him.”

Trigiani has worked with Persky and Max Westler, an English professor, to make this event possible at Saint Mary’s.

“Max Westler thought of it, and I asked Bill and here we are. I love a women’s college hosting a brilliant creator of comedy,” she said. “He’s a woman’s man, father of daughters, by extension dad to a few non biological daughters, and mentor to countless more.”

Trigiani said holding the two master classes was actually Persky’s idea. She said Persky hosts workshops at New York University and wanted to bring the experience to Saint Mary’s.

“Bill understands women, respects us and celebrates us, Trigiani said. “This is a very rare thing – and it’s perfect that a venerable women’s college is hosting a man who has long championed our struggles and joys.”

The first master class will be held on Thursday, April 26, and is open to all students, she said. The second master class on Friday is open to writing majors only. At the Friday class, students are instructed to bring an idea for a sitcom for Trigiani and Persky to evaluate.

“The master class is Bill’s idea – he wanted to bring a structure to the conversation that will really help you decide if you’d like to pursue this kind of work, and find your own voice in the work,” Trigiani said.

Trigiani said her time at Saint Mary’s did not pass by without the impact of influential professors. Trigiani said theater professor Reg Bain, English professor Sister Jean Klene and Wrestler were among those who played a significant role in her education and career.

Today, Trigiani said she focuses on writing books. When looking for inspiration she needs not much other than a closed door and silence, she said.

“I love to be alone, so writing novels is also a spiritual and creative match for me,” Trigiani said. “I love the process of naming the characters and building their lives. Hearing their voices. Letting them live in the imagination.”