Today on annamaria’s writing corner I’m hosting a panel. Let me go ahead and introduce you to the first panel in a series of panel discussions.
Here with me are, Giulia Beyman, author of Words in the Dark and A Cry in the Shadows, Diana Rubino, author of A Necessary End and several other paranormal and romance novels, and Jennifer Garcia from Italian Brat’s Obsession and author of My Mr. Manny.
Yes, you’ve probably guessed that we are all Italian.
Ok ladies, a cup of espresso coffee for any one before we get comfortable and start? Oh, you know what, I almost forgot, I also have bigne and cannoli.
My readers know I lived in Italy as a child, but what about you, Jennifer, have you ever been to Italy?
Jennifer: Yes, it has always been my dream to go back to my roots. Three years ago, my husband took our two sons and me to Italy. We started out in Venice and made our way down to Rome. We were there almost fifteen days and there was still so much I wanted to see. My dad’s family is from Sicily. My maiden name is Arnone. My mother’s side is from Melito di Napoli. Unfortunately, we did not make it to either of those places. I have to say that when my foot touched Italian soil, I felt at home. My favorite place was Firenze. I love all things, Dante and just melted in his place of birth. I hope to go back and see more. Annamaria, you grew up in Italy, would you describe Sicily to me from your eyes.
Annamaria: Sicily to me has always been a magical place, even while growing up. Even at a young age, we learned about Ulysses and his twenty-year journey to return home from the Trojan War. There’s a small town in the northwest cost of Sicily called Erice. It’s a very old town and people used to say Ulysses landed there and walked the streets with his men. As a child I visited the old town with cobbled streets so narrow cars couldn’t drive through them. That’s the one thing I love about Italy, all the history it holds. Giulia, you live in central Italy, besides Rome what town have you visited or lived in that holds amazing history that draws you to that place?
Giulia: Many times, I’ve been in Siena, Tuscany, dear friends. It is a wonderful medieval city. And, you know… on July 2nd and on August 16th they organize the Palio. It is a historical competition between the different contrade (neiborhoods) of the town and probably it dates back to the period of the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines. What I love is not the race of the horses (I love animals too much not to worry about them) but the atmosphere… You can’t imagine the rivalry that exists between the contrade. In those days, the streets and Piazza del Campo were full of people in traditional costumes and the colors of their contrada. In the evening they placed long tables along the ancient streets and all the people of the same contrada had dinner together. It is really a great atmosphere!
Annamaria: I’ve always wanted to travel to Siena for the Palio, but I guess it will have to wait.
Jennifer: I would love to see Italy through the eyes of a resident Italian. Both of your descriptions just remind me of what I’ve missed. I definitely want to go back. Maybe next time, I’d be able to get a tour from one of you.
Even though I wasn’t born in Italy, I feel very connected with my Italian roots. I wrote some of my experiences in my upcoming book.
My first novel, My Mr. Manny is about an Italian girl that grew up in Boston and moved to Los Angeles when she was a teenager to live with her father. It’s her journey of how difficult it was for her to leave all of her family behind and sort of based off of my experiences with moving from home. I moved in with my single father and missed out on the big family dinners and grand holidays with everyone I knew. Mia, my main character, spent dinners and holidays alone with her father, while the rest of her family was able to spend them together. She missed it all so much. Along the way, when she grew up, she married a man she knew as a child from Boston, trying to hold on to that family connection from home. But it did not work out. Family began visiting her and becoming involved in her life in Los Angeles. After her divorce she had to hire a nanny, when her cousin suggested her brother-in-law that just became a manny (male nanny). True love follows and slowly she gets everything she’d dreamed of, her own big family.
Annamaria: Sounds like an interesting book. The adjustment far away from her big family must be difficult. What about you Giulia, what are you working on now?
Giulia: Thanks for asking about my book, dear Annamaria. But let me at first tell you that these cannoli are wonderful. Sorry I don’t drink the espresso with you. I’m a strange kind of Italian. I can live drinking only cappuccino, but as for coffee, I prefer American coffee
Annamaria: You enjoy cappuccino? Well then, my dear let me get you a nice cappuccino before you tell us about your last book.
Giulia: About my last book… I’ve published in English A Cry in the Dark just a few days ago. In the second book of my Nora Cooper Mysteries the story takes place between Roma and Martha’s Vineyard. This time Nora Cooper’s co-protagonist, Susan Bley, is an American woman who has been living in Rome for many years. She was a great chef, until a car accident made her blind. One night Susan discovers that her neighbor and friend, Alexandra, has been killed.
But unbeknown to Susan, her daughter Margot had unwittingly run into Alexandra’s killer in the basement the night she was killed, and because of that chance encounter, the killer knows Margot may talk…
Together, but miles away from each other, Nora and Susan will try to uncover the plans of a desperate killer, while Margot’s life is in danger, and every neighbor in her apartment building is suspect.
Annamaria: Sounds like Nora has a lot going on in her life. Diana, you’ve been quiet. I hope you’re enjoying the company. What are you working on at the moment?
Diana: Ciao ladies! Sorry, haven’t meant to be quiet—being quiet isn’t a trait of mine J. I just wasn’t sure of how to go about posting, where and when. I’m on the right track now.
I am currently researching my next book, about Anne Boleyn. My very first historical, The Jewels of Warwick, had her as a minor character—the book was centered on Henry VIII and a fictional heroine, but all Henry’s wives were in it. I started researching it in 1990—with NO INTERNET!!! How did I do it? There are many more books about Anne now that didn’t exist when I researched Jewels. There are also several good Anne websites and blogs I’ve been going to. I’m re-reading some of the books I read in 1990 for research the first time around. I’m hoping I can bring some maturity to this book that I may not have had 22 years ago. J
I also want to mention that I just finished reading Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani. Have any of you read that? It’s set in Greenwich Village in 1950, and flashes back to the 1920s. All the characters are Italian American, except the creep who jilts the heroine at the altar. I really enjoyed it—it also contains recipes for Italian dishes. I’m planning to read some of her other books this summer.
I’d also like to tell you I named my youngest cat Pepino Luigi, and he’s celebrating his first birthday. I got the name from some friends I visited in Milan in the 90s—they had a cat named Pepino, and also it’s the name of the Italian mouse in the Lou Monte song—anyone remember that? I still have that album to this day—I’ve had it since about age 2—I learned all the Italian parts of the songs phonetically, didn’t know what I was saying, but memorized the entire album before I could even talk! Monte sang in Napolitan dialect, which my grandmother spoke.
Annamaria: La bella Napoli! Well the cannoli and bigne are all gone. We did a good job finishing them. I hope we can all meet again to chat and sip coffee together.
Do watch for the next friendly chat right here on annamaria’s writing corner. Until then, we all wish you the best.
Le Allegre Comari
Giulia Beyman calls both Rome and Tuscany her home. She lives with her husband, her son and a large family of enterprising cats. Her passions are books, yoga and cinema. She worked for about ten years as a freelance journalist, reporting the news and writing on books and fashion. Then after a brief stint in the publishing world, she started to work as a screenwriter for Italian television. In Italian, she has published “Prima di dire addio” and “Luce dei miei occhi”. “Words in the Dark” is her first book translated into English. Soon to follow will be the translation of the second adventure of Nora Cooper, the intriguing real estate agent with the surprising gift of being able to communicate with the hereafter.
If you want to contac Giulia:
Jennifer Garcia’s love of travel began when she traveled to the West Coast to visit her father at the age of three. Her home until she was sixteen was a small coastal town near Boston. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons, and two dogs.
Her lifelong love for reading and writing was put aside for many years while she made her way in the world and nurtured her young family. Even though she is older, and life never seems to settle, she’s finding her way while attending college full-time in pursuit of a B.A. in English Literature. She also runs a business, and is still caring for her family. Believing she can do it all, with the help of her family, she worked on her first novel during the late hours of the night while balancing the rest of her life during the day. Her hard work paid off, as her first novel, My Mr. Manny, will be published August 2013.
Find Jennifer on:
Diana is a self-confessed history nut, her favorite eras being Medieval and Renaissance England, and all American history. She has written several novels set in England and the U.S., two time travel romances, a vampire romance, and a fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT which received a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. She just completed biographical novels about Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and Martha Washington. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Richard III Society. In her spare time, Diana bicycles, golfs, plays her piano and devours books of any genre.
Visit Diana at
Although born in the United States, Annamaria Bazzi spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country.
Upon returning to the states, she promised herself she would speak without an accent.
She attended Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computers with a minor in Spanish.
Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.
Links to Annamaria’s book