International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association
With 16 books and hundreds of articles in magazines and newspapers to her credit, author and columnist Lillian Africano has done it all: non-fiction, fiction, ghostwriting, and travel writing.
"Though I have considerable experience in several areas, I never wanted to specialize in just one," says Ms. Africano. "I think of my career as an opportunity for a lifelong education. I expect to do research and to learn with each new project."
Her first book, The Businessman's Guide to the Middle East, published by HarperCollins, offered such an opportunity. Though Ms. Africano had firsthand knowledge of the Middle East--she spoke Arabic and had lived and traveled in several Arab countries--many months of painstaking research were necessary to gather the data that would be most useful to the business traveler. "I had done graduate work at Columbia University, studying the history and politics of the Middle East," she says. "But for this book, much of the research I had to do involved such basics as banking hours, addresses of ministry offices, hotels, restaurants, and so on." Both the research and the personal experience resulted in a book that was named "the best of its kind" by The Good Book Guide of London. The New York Times review stated: "Mrs. Africano has an admirably no-nonsense approach...She keeps interpretation at a minimum, but her analyses of the economic, political and social climates of each state are in themselves sufficient to suggest how they got that way."
Ms. Africano continued to learn during her 17 years as an advice columnist for Woman's World, thanks to a hefty Rolodex of experts, and to the knotty problems presented by her readers.
Drawing on her own life experiences, she explored the challenges facing women in contemporary society as a regular contributor to the One Woman's Voice column, which was syndicated by The New York Times.
Her career as a ghostwriter began with the memoir of a royal princess. In reviewing the book that Ms. Africano wrote, The New York Times described the princess as "a chatty, absorbing, and undeniably wicked storyteller." The Washington Post characterized the book as "frank, well-written and devoid of self-pity."
More ghostwriting assignments followed, including the memoir of a symphony conductor and the story of two explorers. Among her more interesting collaborations was The Doctor's Walking Book (Ballantine), written with sports medicine expert, Dr. Fred Stutman. "While I was working on this book, I learned about the lifelong benefits of walking--and started to walk at least a half hour a day, weather permitting."
Later, Ms. Africano took on the challenging task of ghostwriting a novel for a non-writer with a recognizable name. "Some of my friends laughed at the notion of a ghosted novel," she says, "but it was a project that required research much like any other." First, Ms. Africano learned all she could about her subject's life and personal history. Then she constructed a story that she believed would be a good fit. Publishers Weekly apparently agreed. They gave the novel a starred review. Kirkus called it "an irresistible tale of romance and heart-pounding drama in that rarest of fictions--an intelligent page-turner."
Two more ghosted novels followed. All were published in Europe, Asia and the United States.
Working under the pseudonym Jessica March, Ms. Africano has also written three best-selling novels: Illusions, Temptations, and Obsessions, all for Warner Books. Working under her own name, as well as several pseudonyms, she has written other successful novels, beginning with the best-selling Something Old, Something New.
With her daughter, Nina Africano, she has written the first and second editions of The Insiders' Guide to the Jersey Shore (Globe Pequot)and revised and edited the ninth edition of New York Off the Beaten Path (Globe Pequot). The books reflect Ms. Africano's affection for her home state and her part-time home in the Empire State, as well as her love of travel. She contributes articles on travel and food and wine to a number of magazines, newspapers and online publications.
Since spring 2004, Ms. Africano has served as editor-in-chief of Worldwide Spa Review, an award-winning online spa magazine designed for a large and rapidly growing audience - men and women interested in fitness, health, relaxation, and the preservation of a youthful outlook and appearance. Ms. Africano brings to this assignment her extensive experience in the field of health, diet, and well-being. "We already have a legion of loyal readers," she says, "and our numbers are growing with every issue."
Ms. Africano is President of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association and Chapter Chair, Northeast Chapter, of the Society of American Travel Writers, a member of the Authors Guild and the American Society of Journalists & Authors.