Celebrities, royalty and ordinary people alike have trudged up six flights of stairs to meet psychic Terry Iacuzzo in her tenement apartment in New York City's Little Italy, and PW was no different. But we turned the tables on Iacuzzo, who's just written a memoir about growing up in a family of psychics. This time, it was her turn to look at her own life.
PW: As a writer, you have a real ear for dialogue and a potent sense of atmosphere. How did you draw on the skills you honed as a psychic?
Terry Iacuzzo: Writing was natural. I would always tell stories in my tarot readings, so I can put a story together. But I didn't just remember these stories from my life. I'm able to call up things, to go back and be in that room. I did that for my clients. I would remember another room, a moment in their life, and they would say, "You know about that?" When I was writing, I could go back in time and see everything and feel it through my body. I have no fear. That's the key to everything.
Was writing the book something you always saw in your future?
Small Mediums at Large was going to be a documentary film. I was inspired by the movie Crumb. I have a lot of footage of my family talking, but something was missing: I wanted to tell the stories from the inside out.
That amused me in the book: you're psychic, but you stumble around in your life like the rest of us.
It's like the old joke: If you're a psychic, how come you haven't won the lottery? But when I was about 10 years old, I saw an author's picture on a book, and I knew one day I'd be sitting just like that, writing. I remember that picture of Grace Metalious. The book was Peyton Place. That picture talked to me about who I wanted to be.
When you last saw your mother before she died, she still wasn't able to give you the love you always wanted from her. Will you see her in an afterlife?
It touches me to think of that. I think I would like that, but I don't allow myself to go there too much. Now that she's gone, it's clear my mother gave me such a gift. She gave me the psychic ability, she gave me the ability to be a storyteller, she gave me a lot of humor, even with all the rejection and the pain.
What was it like to lose your editor at Putnam, Amy Hertz, in the middle of the publication process?
I love Amy. She edits the books of the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman. She said to me, "I really want this book. It's a story like the Tibetan masters would tell, but in a contemporary setting." I couldn't believe it when she called. And the fact that she would go, well, it's the story of my life. It's okay. I was happy to know she was getting her own imprint at Doubleday. I helped her name it. I said, "Where do you feel most at home?" and she said, "Morgan Road."
Can you see what will happen for your book?
Of course I can see it—I'm a psychic. It's going to be big.