Author and Doctor MaryAnn Diorio is my first guest of 2018, so please help me to give her a warm welcome.
MaryAnn, it is a great pleasure to have you back on my website!
Thank you, Debbie! It’s a great honor and privilege to be here again. I appreciate your kindness in inviting me.
Now, we’re discussing your third installment of The Italian Chronicles, which is, Return to Bella Terra. Is this the last one, or can we look forward to another one?
This is the last book in The Italian Chronicles Trilogy, but you can look forward to more stories from me, Lord willing. I have a contemporary romance in the works as well as a New Adult novel. I am also in the process of compiling my poetry for children and my poetry for adults into two separate books titled Poems for Wee Ones and Poems for All Seasons.
Did you have the story for this one mapped out from the beginning of the first one, or did each story come as you wrote?
Great question! One my husband and I have discussed at length.
Writing Return to Bella Terra was a major step of faith for me. While I had a general idea for the first book of the trilogy (The Madonna of Pisano) and an even less general idea for Book 2 (A Sicilian Farewell), when it came to Book 3, I knew almost nothing before I started to write the book. So, I did what I always do when I start a story: I prayed.
And not only did I pray at the beginning of each story, but I also prayed throughout the writing of each story. I knew that Holy Spirit was taking me on a journey of learning to trust completely in Him and to lean totally on Him. And I was not disappointed. In fact, the surprising plot twists and turns the Lord gave me made me keenly aware of the presence of His Spirit hovering over me as I wrote. It was thrilling, comforting, and very humbling.
Our God can be totally trusted to come through for us no matter what the need. When we writers realize that we are totally dependent on Holy Spirit for every word we write just as we are totally dependent on Him for every breath we take, that is a good thing!
This may have come up in one of our prior interviews, but I think I remember that there is a personal family connection to these stories. For the sake of anyone who has just found you, will you tell us about that again?
Yes, there is a personal family connection that provided the seed for the trilogy. For instance, without spoiling the story for the reader, there is pretty good evidence in my family history that what happens to Maria in Book 1 happened to my paternal great-grandmother, although the details were likely different. Many of the characters in the three books are fictional as well.
What made you choose the subject of, not just the story in the third book, but throughout the whole series?
The themes running through all three books of The Italian Chronicles Trilogy are forgiveness and obedience to God’s will. Not only have these themes been major issues in my own life, but they have also surfaced again and again in the lives of people to whom I have ministered over the years, both as a life coach and as a teacher of the Word in the Body of Christ.
Bitterness and unforgiveness are at the root of most, if not all, relationship problems in families and in the Church. When we grasp the truth that unforgiveness enslaves us while forgiveness sets us free, and that God commands us to forgive, we will begin to lead the abundant lives that Jesus died to give us. I wanted to present these truths in my trilogy in the hope that my readers would apply them to their lives and experience total inner freedom as well.
What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
First and foremost, my goal was to write an entertaining and emotionally moving story that would inspire, encourage, and bless my readers. I also wanted to honor my great-grandparents and my grandparents for the many sacrifices they made in order that their descendants might enjoy the great blessings we now enjoy. In addition, I wanted to pay tribute to immigrants of all nationalities who paid a huge price for freedom—whether it be political, psychological, or financial.
Most of all, I wanted to point my readers to the truth that sets us free: God’s Holy Word. It alone instructs us in the way we should go through life. When we do life God’s way, we experience love, joy, and peace.
While I will never know this side of Heaven how well I have achieved these goals, from the comments that have been coming in, I think I’ve been successful in reaching at least some of them with this book.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Making sure that my facts about the time period were accurate. For example, when I wrote that it was snowing on such and such a day, was it really snowing in that city on that day? When I said that a wild rabbit devoured a green pepper, I needed to know if wild rabbits really eat green peppers. And on and on.
Researching the period required a great deal of time. My wonderful husband did a great job of double-checking my facts and researching many for me on his own. I never knew he was such a great editor, and he never knew how much he enjoyed research and fact-checking! I’ve appointed him “Head of the Research and Fact-Checking Department” for any and all future books God gives me the privilege of writing for Him.
What did you most enjoy about writing this book?
Working with my husband on the research and editing aspects. We discovered that Dom has research talents of which neither of us was aware until we started working on the edits for Return to Bella Terra. As first editors, we had great fun reading and re-reading through the book, making sure timelines were correct and facts were accurate. Of course, the manuscript was then reviewed and edited by a professional editor, but Dom and I had great fun doing the preliminary edits.
Where can readers find you and your books on the Internet?
Readers can find Return to Bella Terra as well as the first two books of The Italian Chronicles Trilogy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Connect, Kobo, and Smashwords as well as major retailers. Bookstores may order the book through Lightning Source / IngramSpark. FYI, each book can be read as a stand-alone, and it is not necessary to read the first two books before reading the third. Of course, the reader might find it more interesting to do so, but it is not necessary.
Any last words?
I want publicly to praise God and to give Him all the glory for my completing this trilogy. He was with me every step of the way. A mentor of mine once told me that writing a novel would take me on a profound spiritual journey. Writing this trilogy has been such a journey for me, one that has drawn me closer to our Lord and more intimately in tune with His Most Holy Spirit. I thank God for that.
Also, I’d like to encourage your readers not to be afraid to trust God. He is perfectly trustworthy and will never fail you. As He promises in Proverbs 16: 3, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and he will establish your plans.”
So, commit your dreams and goals to God, trusting that He will bring them to fruition for the purpose of blessing others and bringing Him glory.
MaryAnn, thank you so much for taking the time from your busy schedule to visit my website. I pray all the best for, not only this installment of your series, but for all of them.
You are most welcome, Deb. Thank YOU for your kindness in allowing me to appear on your wonderful Internet home. I pray God’s blessings on you and your writing as well. God has placed you in the front lines of spiritual battle, and I am standing in faith with you as you bring light into the darkness.
If you’d like to win a copy of Return to Bella Terra, please use the Contact page on this site and type “drawing” in the comments box. Dr. MaryAnn is offering the winner any format of the book they prefer, whether print or electronic. The deadline to enter the giveaway is January 24th.