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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

SMC senior interns with alumna author and director

Saint Mary’s senior Hannah Drinkall interned this summer for a Saint Mary's alumna, bestselling author and director Adriana (Adri) Trigiani, who graduated with the class of 1981. Trigiani released her new movie based on her novel, “Big Stone Gap,” on Oct. 9 and a new book titled “All the Stars in the Heavens” on Oct. 13.

Drinkall said working for Trigriani was a “dream come true.”

“I got to see firsthand how a writer not only works day-to-day, but also how a writer works under highly stressful times,” she said. “This summer Adri was preparing for two major releases in the fall ... Both expected to come out in October, only a few days apart, and both she worked extremely hard on.”

Aside from directing the 1996 documentary film, “Queen of the Big Time,” this was Trigiani’s first time directing a movie for the big screen, Drinkall said. Trigiani was a theater major when she was a student at Saint Mary’s.

“I know she felt far too passionate about [‘Big Stone Gap’] to not direct the movie,” she said.

Trigiani has incorporated Saint Mary’s values and the campus into her works, Drinkall said.

“In the novel “Big Stone Gap,” it is mentioned that the main character, Ave Maria, is an alum of Saint Mary's,” she said. “As for the movie, from what I can tell, I think Adri tries to reflect some SMC values in Ave Maria's character. For example, her latest book, ... ‘All The Stars In The Heavens,’ features a prologue that describes the beauty of the Saint Mary's campus. It is a really beautiful piece.”

Drinkall said she worked directly with Trigiani and her assistant, Sarah, while learning what happens behind the scenes including social media, emails and book clubs.

“Adri's fan base is incredible, and she does so much for them, and I had so much fun sending out signed books all summer, corresponding in emails about book clubs and library visits and maintaining the social media accounts, which Adri loves to always have updated,” she said.

Drinkall said there was always something new for her to research during her internship, and that Trigiani was more of a mentor than a boss.

“Adri was always asking what I thought about an idea," she said. “Adri is never not working, even when's she's relaxing, her mind is always writing, and that was amazing for me to see. I think that's what a real writer is, an observer of everything, so you're constantly writing in your mind. Adri was the most generous, caring and helpful mentor I could ask for. I say mentor because her role as ‘boss’ was so much more for me.”

Drinkall had the opportunity to be a part of the editing process for Trigiani’s newly released book, “All the Stars in the Heavens.” Drinkall said it was the first time in her life she felt truly successful and legitimately helpful in something other than school.

“Adri, Sarah and I sat together for hours, reading the manuscript and passing around the pages to each other in this awesome system we had mastered,” she said. “The red pencil in my right hand was shaking each time I saw a word that needed to be fixed, or when I had a suggestion of my own. I was nervous because who am I to make such decisions, but each time a page I had marked got around the circle to Adri, she was always pleased and admired my catches.”

“From what I can tell, Adri doesn't do anything half-heartedly,” Drinkall said. “She puts her all into each novel and works tirelessly. She values the opinions of others and when it comes to editing her novel, she kindly incorporates her team full on, such as her editor, her assistant, Sarah, and me. I was so honored to help Adri edit ‘All The Stars In The Heavens’ and couldn't believe she valued my opinion so much. It was awesome. So I know it means the world to Adri to make her novel come to life.”

Trigiani’s movie “Big Stone Gap” is in theaters now, and she is currently on a book tour for “All the Stars in the Heavens.”