MaryAnn Diorio


Please welcome back my dear friend, Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, to chat about her latest novel, The Madonna of Pisano!
Thank you, Deb! It's great to be here again with you and your wonderful readers. :)

MaryAnn, for those who may have not seen our previous interviews, please share a little about yourself.
I am a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mom, and a grandmom, aka "Nonna" in italian. :)  My husband Dom and I have been married for 46 years. We are blessed with two marvelous adult daughters, a wonderful son-in-law, and five rambunctious grandchildren.  I have been writing for 40 years, and my passion is writing fiction. I write novels, novellas, and short stories for adults and children. I also write picture books for children.  In my spare time, I love to read, to paint, and to play the piano.

What made you choose the particular subject of this book?
For several years, I've been researching my family history.  My mother was born and raised in Italy, and my father's parents were from Italy.  While living in Italy myself after college, I started researching my roots and made some interesting discoveries. After returning to the States, I continued my research and discovered an incident in my great-great-grandmother's life that sparked the idea for THE MADONNA OF PISANO.  I must clarify, however, that the story is a work of fiction, not a historical record, so I changed some things to accommodate the story.  But the idea for the story came from my family history.

How does this book relate to your love for God?
As with all that I write, I write because I love King Jesus. My burning desire is to touch lives with the truth of His love, no matter what I do. I've found that story is a wonderful way for touching the heart. Just as Jesus touched hearts by telling stories called parables, so we who write fiction tell stories to touch the heart.

God wants all people to come to Him through Jesus Christ. Why? So that He can set them free.  I want to see people set free. I can never thank Jesus enough for setting me free, and I want to pass on to others the Good News that all can come to Him and be set free.

What were your goals and intentions for this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
My goal for this book was two-fold: 1) to exonerate the memory of my great-great-grandmother who, from the research I gathered, was unjustly wronged and suffered greatly as a result;  2) to show that only forgiveness can set one free from the deep hurt suffered at the hands of others.  In my heart, I know I achieved my first goal, and, from the feedback from readers who have read my book, I believe I have achieved my second goal as well.

Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
I knew God was in this book from the beginning because I prayed for His guidance and direction. He confirmed His Presence with me in a miraculous way. While looking online for genealogical information about my family, I came across a professional genealogist who worked at a major university in Italy.  I wrote to him and told him that I was writing a novel and needed some help.

To my enormous surprise, it turned out that he was originally from the same town as my great-great-grandmother.  Not only that, but he was distantly related to me! This was definitely a God-incidence! I was so excited, and so was he!

He provided me with original records that I could not have gotten on my own. He scanned the records and e-mailed them to me. He also answered many questions I had about Italian culture in the time period in which my story is set (late 19th century).

The best part of all, however, was that I told him I still had a cousin living in the area where my great-great-grandmother lived. When I told him about my cousin, the genealogist said that they had been classmates in high school but had lost contact with each other.  So, from 3000 miles away, I had the joy of reconnecting two old friends who now lived only 20 minutes apart! :)  Praise the Lord!!! :)

MaryAnn, what do you feel makes this book stand out from the crowd?
Several things make my book stand out from the crowd:

1-The story line.  My story line is reminiscent of Nathaniel Hawthorne's THE SCARLET LETTER, but my story differs from Hawthorne's in that it is a kind of SCARLET LETTER in reverse.  The story line is unique in that it deals with the social and cultural issues that impact personal choices and subsequent history, while portraying a lead character who defies those pressures through a power that a lesser person would deem insane. Without giving away too much, let me just say that THE MADONNA OF PISANO will, I believe, tug powerfully at your heartstrings in a profound way. I cried myself while writing the book.

2-The setting.  Few historical novels written in English are set in 19th-century Sicily, particularly in southwestern Sicily, in a culture fraught with contradictions.

3-The main character. My heroine, Maria, is an anomaly for her time period in Sicily. She is a strong woman who is both independent and confident. In a cultural time frame when women were very subservient to men, Maria stands out as one who holds to her convictions in the face of tremendous opposition, including male opposition.

What projects are you working on at present?
THE MADONNA OF PISANO is the first book in my trilogy titled THE ITALIAN CHRONICLES. Currently, I am working on the second book of the trilogy titled A SICILIAN FAREWELL. Lord willing, it will be released this summer.

What are your plans for future projects?
After completing A SICILIAN FAREWELL, I plan to write the third book of the trilogy, RETURN TO BELLA TERRA.  As for future projects after that, I have many I look forward to completing, Lord willing. They include a romance set in Milano and titled AN ITALIAN ROMANCE; a Biblical novel titled THE WATER BOY OF BETHLEHEM, and a contemporary novel titled IN BLACK & WHITE. I also plan to compile a book of my children's poems titled POEMS FOR WEE ONES.

Give us an interesting fun fact (or a few) about your book or series.

I completed THE MADONNA OF PISANO as my thesis novel for my Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree at Seton Hill University. One of my professors actually suggested the title, which I eventually adopted because it conveyed the focus of my story better than my original title of SICILIAN SUNRISE.  She was right, although I may use the original title for another story I have in mind. :)

MaryAnn, please provide information on how readers can find out more about you and your books.
Readers can purchase THE MADONNA OF PISANO at the following link:


Readers can learn more about me and my writing at the social media venues below:
Blog (Matters of the Heart):
Amazon Author Central:

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or your books?
I would like readers to know that an author is nothing without her readers. So, thank you to all readers who read the stories we write. A special thanks to your readers for reading this interview. :) I trust that my stories will bless all readers who read them and will draw them closer to our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: the Beginning, the End, and Everything-in-Between.

Thank you so much for stopping by, MaryAnn. It was such a pleasure to have you visit with us again.
You are most welcome, Deb! It was my great pleasure and honor to be here! You are a treasured friend and fellow author.  May our Lord richly bless you and your readers!

If you’d like to win a copy of The Madonna of Pisano, please use the Contact page and type “drawing” in the comments box. The deadline for the giveaway is May 24th.

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Content © Copyright 2018 Deborah M. Piccurelli
Deborah Piccurelli is an author and deborah piccurelli is a writer of Christian Suspence and Christian Fiction. Deborah Piccurelli writes suspence for Christians who want to read wholesome suspense and thriller writing. Deborah Piccurelli has written and authored in the midst of deceit a suspense novel. In the midst of deceit is a book that deborah m piccurelli has published, but deborah m piccurelli is writing other suspence works as well. Deborah Piccurelli writes thriller novels and has published In the Midst of Deceit. For more information about Deborah M Piccurelli you can visit her site Also, her tag line is Uncovering the Unthinkable. The phrase Uncovering the Unthinkable represents what Debbie Piccurelli writes in the books that she authors, expecially in the suspense novels.