Greetings from Kevin Thompson! School is back in session here in Florida. That means there are thousands of mothers out there either breathing into paper bags (because they are first time school parents) or breathing a sigh of relief, looking forward to hours of quiet time with a book, a cup of coffee, and a house filled with silence (because they’ve been there, done that with the whole school thing). So, for those ready to read, I introduce to you novelist MaryAnn Diorio! Welcome, MaryAnn.
Let’s get this interview jumpstarted by having you tell us about your latest book, Return to Bella Terra.
Maria Tonetta returns to Sicily to face not only her mother’s death but also the bankruptcy of the family farm. Caught between two worlds, Maria must choose one. But when her son’s biological father appears at Mama’s funeral, Maria must face an even greater enemy within her own soul.
What inspired you to write this book?
Return to Bella Terra is the third book in my trilogy titled The Italian Chronicles. The spark that ignited the idea for the series was an incident that occurred in the life of my great-great-grandmother on my father’s side.
What is the primary focus of your book?
My primary focus in writing fiction is to entertain while inspiring. Beyond that, in Return to Bella Terra, I focused on the truth that the safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.
What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
I was amazed again and again by the way our Lord provided the very resources I needed at the very time I needed them. For example, God connected me with a professional Italian genealogist who “happened” to live in the same town in which my great-great-grandmother lived! In fact, the genealogist knew my family and provided me with copies of original documents that greatly helped me in my research.
That’s pretty cool. And it’s sure to add authenticity to your work with information like that. What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope that readers will recognize that unforgiveness imprisons while forgiveness sets free.
What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
Forgiveness and reconciliation
How has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?
When I first started writing fiction, one of my mentors made a thought-provoking statement to me that I have never forgotten. She said, “For the Christ-follower, learning to write fiction is a spiritual journey in which you will learn not only about writing fiction, but more importantly, you will learn about yourself and your relationship with Jesus.” She was right!
What would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?
My ideal writing place would be writing from a beachfront home on the Jersey shore. Actually, for a while when I lived near the Jersey shore, I had my favorite bench in Ocean City where I would spend hours with my laptop, gazing at the beautiful Atlantic for inspiration in between scenes. My actual writing place now is in an upstairs spare bedroom that I’ve turned into a library/office.
When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?
I was 30 years old when I first recognized God’s call to write for Him. He confirmed it by allowing one of my poems to be accepted by The Saturday Evening Post, a virtually impossible feat for a rank beginner. But God!
What talents do you have aside from storytelling?
I love to paint in oils, acrylics, and pastels. I’ve recently discovered colored pencil, which is fast becoming my favorite medium. I also play the piano.
Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
I used to teach French and Italian at the university level. My background in Comparative Literature has had a great impact on what and how I write.
Everyone struggles with time management in our 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines.
I treat my writing as a business. I report to my office at 9am and work until 2pm, sometimes 3pm, five days a week.
Tell us about your favorite library memory.
When I was in the fourth grade, I had to write a book report on an English composer. It was due the next day. Since we had no resources in our home on this composer (nor were computers a household commodity back then), my Daddy took me to the library to take out some books on the topic. The evening was cold and snow lay thick on the ground. I remember holding my Daddy’s hand as we walked home from the library, laden with the books we had checked out and crunching through the snow, all the while having a wonderful time talking about the things fourth-graders talk about. It is one of my fondest memories of time spent with my Dad.
Tell us about your next project.
I’m currently working on a novel titled In Black and White that deals with the topic of racism. This topic is of special interest to me because I have two very precious adopted grandchildren who are African-American.
Sounds interesting…and timely. Congratulations, MaryAnn, on your new book, and we want to thank you for taking the time to join us here at the CAN blog!
Until next time, May God bless you, and may you bless God!