daughters and grandparents of five rambunctious grandchildren. You may learn more about MaryAnn and her writing at www.maryanndiorio.com. MaryAnn, welcome to Interviews & Reviews!
How long have you been writing?
I started writing poetry in high school but never considered myself a writer, although I did win a national poetry contest at the age of 15. That should have been a clue, right? But, if you know me, you know that I usually get the message later than most—such as in getting the punch line of a joke. ☺
Now, over a half-century later, I realize that I’ve been a writer all along. I was 30 years old before I discerned God’s call on my life to write for Him. Initially, I thought it was only my desire, but after much prayer and seeking God, He made clear to me in a very personal way that He was calling me to be a writer in His Kingdom. Since then, I’ve never looked back.
How many books have you written?
I’ve written two novellas (A Christmas Homecoming and Surrender to Love), three novels that form The Italian Chronicles Trilogy (The Madonna of Pisano, A Sicilian Farewell, and Return to Bella Terra), four children’s picture books (Who Is Jesus?, Candle Love, Toby Too Small, and The Dandelion Patch), and one children’s chapter book (Do Angels Ride Ponies?). I’ve also written hundreds of articles and poems that have been published in over 100 magazines, newspapers, and journals.
What is the hardest thing about writing for you?
Without question, it’s the marketing. It’s not difficult per se; it’s just time-consuming, and I’d much rather spend my time spinning tales. ☺
Do you travel to the places you write about?
Mostly, yes. So far, I’ve been to two of the three places I’ve written about. The primary setting for my trilogy, The Italian Chronicles, is Sicily, a lovely island from which my grandparents hail and where I still have family. The setting for my novella, Surrender to Love, is the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, which I visited with my husband. A Christmas Homecoming takes place mostly in Virginia, with a short section in Sydney, Australia. I have not been to Australia, but I did extensive research for that part of my story to make it authentic.
Which do you enjoy more, the research part for a book, or the writing?
Hands down, the writing, although I can easily get caught up in the research. The challenge with research is that it leads down rabbit trails that can be very exciting. So, I have to be disciplined and balanced when I research. But the desire to get back to writing the story keeps the research process from overwhelming me.
finds herself yearning for the life she once knew as a child on Bella Terra, the family farm, now on the verge of bankruptcy. Caught between two worlds, Maria dreams of moving back to Sicily with her husband and children to save the farm. When, however, Nico’s biological father unexpectedly appears at Mama’s funeral, Maria faces a new enemy to her dream. But is there an even greater enemy within her own soul?
Sounds exciting! What inspired you to write this book?
The seed of this story (and, in fact, for The Italian Chronicles Trilogy of which Return to Bella Terra is the third volume) came from an incident in the life of my paternal great-grandmother. When I learned about it, I knew I had to use the incident as the launching pad for a novel. That novel then turned into a trilogy.
Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?
Yes. The message is that God’s plan for our lives is far better than our own, and that only as we yield our will to His plan will we find joy, peace, and fulfillment.
Do you have any other books in the works?
Yes. I am working on a New Adult novel, a contemporary romance, and a compilation of my poems for both children and adults. Lord willing, in 2018 I will also be releasing an updated version of my book, You Were Made for Greatness!, a non-fiction book on who believers are in Christ.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Which do you enjoy more – reading or writing?
Definitely writing, although reading holds a close second place in my heart. For me, reading nourishes my writing skills, while writing makes me more appreciative of the effort that goes into producing a great book.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I read many different kinds of books—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s books (which I love to read to my five grandchildren). Top on my list in order of preference is fiction, but I also read a lot of non-fiction. I usually have several books going at once. The more I learn, the better I write.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I am the firstborn of eight children. My mother was from Italy and a World War II war bride. When I was born, she could not speak English. So, my native tongue is Italian.
What are your favourite types of movies?
Movies that help me to keep my eyes on things eternal and that give me a true perspective of the meaning of life.
How were you saved?
I came to Christ through a televised Billy Graham Crusade. I am so thankful for Mr. Graham’s ministry. You can read my entire salvation testimony at http://maryanndiorio.com/about-new/my-testimony
That is awesome! Do you volunteer in your community or church?
I teach a weekly Bible study in my home. Also, I am available as a life coach to women in my church who are in need of discipleship and direction for their lives. I also participate in community activities, like local art & craft shows for artists and writers. This past Thanksgiving Day, I fulfilled a longstanding dream of walking a 5K with my daughter in my town’s annual Turkey Trot.
Congratulations! One last question - you are stranded on a deserted island. What three books would you want with you and why?
Thank you so much for stopping by today MaryAnn!
Thank you so very much for providing this opportunity, Laura!
And now Dear Readers, if you would like to win a copy of Return to Bella Terra,simply fill out the form below before December 23. The winner will be announced Christmas Eve!
Congratulations to Marianna Randazzo! You are the winner of Return to Bella Terra. Expect an email from me soon!