Online-Interview with the American author Susan Pohlman

Preliminary remark:

I wrote down the questions first in German and then as far as that was possible with my 
school English and an online translator translated into English and then to  Susan. Conversely
it was then with their answers. I think in a very detailed form. Here are of course their original 
I put the English version here first and the German one on a second page vew days later. Please note
that I have tried to translate the answers into a passable German. Surely you can translate one or the 
other better, but I hope it's okay.

Susan Pohlman


First of all, thank you for being willing to conduct this online interview with me, and for publishing it on my blog. First of all, I hope that I can formulate my questions correctly in English? I came across you through what I think was a great book, "Our Italian Year". In American, the title is "Halfway To Each Other" which in German means as much as „Auf halbem Weg zueinander“. May I assume that the book did not just spring from your imagination, but that there really was this time of getting out and why?

Susan Pohlman

Halfway to Each Other is the true account of a year that rocked our world. Having been married for sixteen years, my husband and I had reached a crossroads in our relationship. We were both growing in different directions and felt that there was not much left for us as a couple. This became a problem at home and the atmosphere in our family was not healthy for our children (ages 11 and 15). I had decided, after much prayer and pain, to end the marriage.

The two lounge chairs looking out on the sea is the spot where we were  the two lounge chairs looking out on the sea is the spot where we were sitting when we made the decision (scene in the beginning of the book)

In the meantime, my husband worked in an industry that used sales incentives. Every year or so we would take clients on fabulous trips in exchange for their loyalty. That year, the destination was Italy. I had never been to Italy and didn’t really yearn to go. Because of our relationship status, I declined the trip. In the end I decided to go and help run the trip with the idea that we would begin our separation afterward.

View from the balcony

Well, as the book explains, Italy worked its magic on us, and we decided, quite shockingly, to try to start over. In the span of two days, we found a school for our children, signed a lease to a furnished apartment that overlooked the sea. We were both petrified, but somehow knew that this was the right thing at the right time. 

We went back to America and told our kids that we were taking a break from our fast-paced, materialistic American lives to live in a beautiful village by the sea. We quit our jobs, sold our home and left. Two months later we were living in Genoa.

I’m not going to say that the children were excited about it! However, once they settled into the rhythms of Italian life, they, too, fell in love with it.


I came across the book because of the German title, because it fell right into my "Italian" time, when I learned only Italian, but also enjoyed reading books that had the theme of Italy. How do you like the German title?

Cappuccino, Italian style

Appetizer in Italian style,
Antipasto molto italiano

Susan Pohlman

I loved the German title and so appreciate the excellent translation into German. The publisher did a wonderful job with this book. I have received many emails from the German readers along the way. I am forever grateful for their support of our story.


I read the book again in advance of our interview, after a few years, and I often had to smile again, I had to laugh, so much of the Italian soul was familiar to me from my holidays. For you as an American, I think much was certainly completely unknown. I am at least an European and already for me they often are hard to understand. Many people here the Italians are too loud, they are too impulsive, it bothers them that they often in the "family clan "And then nonno, nanna, mamma, papà e i bambini (I don't think I need to translate that) they all are screaming. I like that very much, I like the Italian life.

Susan Pohlman

This is a great question and speaks to the heart of the story. Our life in America had become quite fractured with the four of us living under one roof but going in four different directions. The kids were in different schools, my husband I in job far apart from each other and all of us living a frenetic pace. This is American culture, so we didn’t see that there was anything wrong with that. Until, of course, we become so disconnected that we began to lose each other. We lived a lifestyle of abundance (not lavish, just comfortable), but in America that often means that you own a lot of “stuff” and weekends are spent taking care of that “stuff” instead of spending time together in meaningful ways.

The Italian lifestyle was a welcome and healing change. We needed to develop our own “family clan” and the Italian culture supported that. I loved the musicality and emotion of the language, the colors, fresh foods, the simplicity that reawakened the soul. Our Italian neighbors showed us a generosity of spirit that we had not experienced before. We learned to slow down and enjoy the moment, a spiritually and emotionally healthy way to experience life. 

the  childrens school

Our children found relief from all of the materialism of Los Angeles. They attended the International School in Genoa and loved getting to know and become friends with children from many cultures. Friendships were based on heart and laughter and shared discovery rather than appearances and material belongings. 


Was that not terrible for you, was it not almost nearly like a culture shock? 

Susan Pohlman

Yes, there was period of culture shock, but I think that happens regardless of country. It took about three months to completely relax into our new lifestyle. Because we did not know the language, there was a lot of bumbling around at first. Thank goodness we all have a great sense of humor!

This experience transformed each of us, individually and as a family. It pushed us past all of our self-imposed boundaries and enabled us to develop our own family identity. We will be ever thankful that we took this seemingly crazy leap of faith.


And how hard has it been to get used to everyday life and especially to the American everyday life after this Italian year?

Susan Pohlman

We went through a period of reverse culture shock when we returned home. The stores seemed too big, the amount of selections and products unnecessary. The general clutter of life was overwhelming at first. The key to reentry was learning to leave “culture” at the door and creating the simple lifestyle that now worked for us inside the home. This is easier said than done, but we try very hard to keep life simple now.

Susan Pohlman and her husband Tim


Are you, or your family have been in Italy since then?

Susan Pohlman
Yes, we have been back a number of times. We can’t seem to stay away our “home away from home.” We remain friends with all of those we met while there and the internet has enabled us to remain close.


Are there any more books by you that have been published in German?

Susan Pohlman

At this time, I have no other books published in German. I have written a sequel of sorts to this book but am searching for a publisher at this time. So, you never know!


How was it for you to learn this language? I think the best way to learn a foreign language is always to do it in the country. Are you still talking it today? Do you have the opportunity?

Susan Pohlman

When we moved to Italy, we knew about five words: ciao, arrivederci, si, non, and vino.  We didn’t give it too much thought as we figured that we’d study Italian and pick up the language as we went.

Tim at the balcony
We had no concept of how difficult that was going to be! All of those verb tenses and endings!  

Luckily, we met a wonderful, retired couple who agreed to teach us Italian if we would help them with their English.  We met weekly and slowly developed an understanding of the basics.  Enough to get along.  Our children, however, picked up the language quickly from their school experience and their Italian friends. Katie eventually minored in Italian in college.

We don’t speak Italian, but we know enough to feel comfortable when we travel back to Italy from time to time.
Do you still talk much talk about Italy and the time you spent there? Your children have certainly benefited from it! 
Susan Pohlman 
Yes, it was such a magical (and comical)
time for our family that we often reminisce and laugh about it. As
you can imagine, we have many family jokes and references that bring
us great joy. All of us recognize the many blessings we took from
that year. It was a gift that continues to bless us!  
For your new "german Book" I keep my fingers crossed or as we say in german "ich drücke dir die Daumen" which translated into english means "I press my thumb") that you can publish it in Germany soon. Please contact me if you know something new

Susan Pohlman 

Thank you, again! I will keep you informed if my next book sells I have attached a few photos for you. One of Tim and me, Katie and Matt, our dog, Zucca and the view from our balcony! I can send others if these are not what you are looking for. I have a lot as you can imagine


How did you like Italian food?

Susan Pohlman 

The food is the best on the planet!

Finally, I would like to say thank you again. Thank you Susan, especially for responding in such detail.
During reading, I got the impression that you also answered very emotionally. I have often had the 
impression that you have allowed me and my readers to look into your soul life - thank you very much.  
As Susan wrote, she sent me many photos and I picked and used some of them.

In Germany, the book "OUR ITALIAN YEAR 2012 
was published by GerthMedien, Asslar, in the publishing group 
Randam House GmbH, Munich

taken from the homepage of Susan Pohlman
by her kind permission

Halfway to Each Other is her first book and winner of the Relationships category and runner-up in the Memoir category in the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. It was shortlisted for the 2010 Inspy Awards. She is presently working on a second memoir and a MG novel.

For more informations look at Susans Website where you also can find informtions about her new book A time to seek and look here
And here comes the link to the see more about the second book about her trip to Italy

Thanks for reading this post. As always, I would appreciate comments and new followers. If you want to be always informed about news on my blog in a timely manner, recommend me too at the Facebook group "Michelangelosblogs", or klick at "Folgen"!

The interview was originally conducted for the blog
"Michelangelosreiseerinnerungen"("Travel Memories").

Unless otherwise stated, all photos are copywritten
by Susan Pohlman



1 Kommentar:

  1. Thank you, Michael, for sharing this interview! (Vielen Dank für das Teilen dieses Interviews!)