Interview: Nicky Pellegrino talks about Tiny Pieces of Us
Nicky Pellegrino is the author of 12 best-selling novels and also a freelance journalist with regular columns in the Listener and the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly. Nicky lives in Auckland and, when she’s not working, is most likely to be found riding her horse, walking her dog, and seeking out delicious food and wine. Tiny Pieces of Us has been shortlisted for the NZ Booklovers Fiction Award 2021.
Tell us a little about your novel.
Tiny Pieces of Us is about a group of people who share one thing – all have received lifesaving organ transplants from the same donor. The book tells the story of the way their lives tangle together.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was intrigued by the idea of getting a second chance at life. What would you do with it? As I learned more about organ transplants I realised that we only ever hear part of the story. There is a whole amazing journey that organ recipients go through. Their lives are saved but they are also changed.
What research was involved?
I did loads of research talking to doctors and people involved in organ donation, to get the medical details and the process right. But even more importantly I formed connections with some recipents and a donor family, and that helped me understand the emotional side of the story.
What was your routine or process when writing this book?
I juggle writing fiction with work as a freelance journalist so don’t really have a routine, just fit in writing when I can. Recently I’ve had quite bad insomnia – hello midlife! – and find getting up and writing in the middle of the night quite productive although it’s probably terrible for my health and I’m not suggesting anyone else tries it.
If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.
There’s a very emotional song called Someone You Loved by Lewis Capaldi that is about organ donation and I listened to it a lot while I was writing the book, so that would definitely be the theme tune.
If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?
I’m voting for Rege-Jean Page from Bridgerton to play Tommy. And Elle Fanning from The Great to play Vivi.
What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?
It’s grittier than my previous novels and I enjoyed the challenge of that. I also liked walking in other people’s shoes. I’ve never been in the position that any of my characters find themselves in, so it required a leap of my imagination as well as lots of research.
What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?
I don’t remember but most likely it would have involved escaping my desk to go and ride my horse down Muriwai Beach and then eating and drinking too much.
What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
Sorrow And Bliss by Meg Mason. I think it’s brilliantly written and it comes at the topic of mental illness from a very different and clever angle.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
I’m finishing my next novel, a much more escapist read called To Italy, With Love. In lockdown I did a screenwriting course so I’m working on ideas for TV shows and also dreaming up some other projects that I may never get round to actually tackling!