indieBRAG Book Tour: Sons of the Wolf by Paula Lofting

Sons of The Wolf Book Cover  



Publish Date: July 23, 2012

Publisher: SilverWood Books

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Language: English



About Sons of the Wolf


1054, pious King Edward sits on the throne, spending his days hunting, sleeping and praying, leaving the security of his kingdom to his more capable brother-in-law Harold Godwinson, the powerful Earl of Wessex.


Against this backdrop we meet Wulfhere, a Sussex thegn who, as the sun sets over the wild forest of Andredesweald, is returning home victoriously from a great battle in the north. Holding his lands directly from the King, his position demands loyalty to Edward himself, but Wulfhere is duty-bound to also serve Harold, a bond forged within Wulfhere’s family heritage and borne of the ancient Teutonic ideology of honour and loyalty.


Wulfhere is a man with the strength and courage of a bear, a warrior whose loyalty to his lord and king is unquestionable. He is also a man who holds his family dear and would do anything to protect them. So when Harold demands that he wed his daughter to the son of Helghi, his sworn enemy, Wulfhere has to find a way to save his daughter from a life of certain misery in the household of the cruel and resentful Helghi, without comprising his honour and loyalty to his lord, Harold. On the battlefield, Wulfhere fights for his life but elsewhere the enemy is closer to home, sinister and shadowy and far more dangerous than any war.



About Author


Paula Lofting


My name is Paula Lofting and I write historical fiction. My first novel is called Sons of the Wolf, set in 11thc England. I like to keep things as accurate as I can when I am writing historically and belong to a re-enactment society, Regia Anglorum that covers the period in which I write. This enables me to have some knowledge of the time I write in of the everyday things and not just the politics and events of the time. Living history is a big part of what Regia do and everything has to be well researched for authenticity.


My earliest influences in reading were Rosemary Sutcliffe, Edith Pargetter, Leon Garfield, Mary Stewart and Sharon Kay Penman. Rosemary Sutcliffe really got me into Dark Age history. I love her style and am reading Manda Scott currently whose style is heavily influenced by Sutcliffe’s.


Aside from enjoying historical fiction set in pre-conquest years, I also enjoy later medieval, ancient and anything in later periods that would interest me. I also enjoy crime, horror and thrillers. Erotica is not really for me but I appreciate the skill you must need to write in that genre.


I am a psychiatric nurse by day and writer in my spare time. I have three children and live in the beautiful county of Sussex, England, where my book is set. I am currently working on the sequel which I hope to have released in the late summer or early Autumn!


Paula’s website:


Twitter –





Sons of the Wolf Book Tour Banner



Tour Schedule:


June 10th Su Harrison
June 11th Ginger Myrick
June 12th Judith Arnopp
June 13th Patricia Bracewell
June 14th Debbie Brown
June 15th Debbie Young
June 16th Maria Grace
June 17th Lisl Zlitni
June 18th Sue Millard
June 19th Layered Pages



 Praises for Sons of the Wolf!


Both are blended seamlessly together, making the characters full and rounded, all together very well-developed.” Cynthia McArthur


I just finished this wonderful historical novel last night – you know you have read a great book when you feel bereft upon reaching the end! ” Mary Rose


As this brilliant story unfolds I found myself so engrossed with the characters plight and emotions I felt like these events were happening to my own family. Saying this story has well developed characters does not do it justice. It goes beyond that…Lofting really gets to the core of the human condition and pulls you into a world of the past that leaves you wanting to explore more of these fascinating people in history.” Stephanie Moore Hopkins



Interview with Author Lisa Ard

Stephanie: Author Lisa Ard is a children’s book author AND avid reader, stay-at-home mom, part-time business consultant, school volunteer, library board president, Sunday school teacher, book club member, chauffeur, volleyball coach, wife and mom, not necessarily in that order. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Author Lisa Ard


Lisa, congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion. Please tell me about your book, “Saving Halloween.”

Lisa: Saving Halloween” is a magical story about discovering one’s true family. Anne Hudson meets a very unusual friend and through their friendship, she learns what she needs and she goes after it. Her journey is not without bumps in the road, and the path is not always clear – magic plays a part in that! I hope readers enjoy the deception within the story – in what characters say, do, even in their names.

Book Blurb:
When book-smart Anne Parson meets Halloween Spavento, she sees exactly what she wants to see — a friend. Halloween wave’s away trouble, magically silences school bullies and offers Anne unfailing friendship. But, when the Spavento family’s enchanting exploits are exposed, will Anne face her fears and save Halloween?

A spellbinding tale of outcasts who find acceptance, a girl who discovers the true meaning of family, and characters who are not always what they seem.

Stephanie: What inspired you to write this story?

Lisa: This is my homage to Roald Dahl, my favorite children’s book author. I describe “Saving Halloween” as “Matilda” meets “the Munsters”.

saving halloween

Stephanie: Have you written other young adult books?
Lisa: I write for middle grade and yes, I have two published works in my Dream Seeker series (ages 7-10). The first, “Fright Flight, Dream Seekers Book One”, introduces readers to Patrick, a dream seeker. As a dream seeker, what happens in his dreams really happens to him. The second, “Dream Team, Dream Seekers Book Two”, continues the adventures of Patrick and his family. These are high action/adventure stories with humor and a theme of tackling the whole growing up process.

Stephanie: Is there a message you want your readers to grasp?


Lisa: I think in all my books, while the main character has an adventure or calling or journey to make on their own, they know that they are loved and supported by someone.

Stephanie: Who designed your book cover?

Lisa: The cover and interior illustrations for “Saving Halloween” were designed by Chris Adams of Corvid Designs.

Stephanie: How long did it take you to write your story and what was your writing schedule like?

Lisa: Although I should have a writing schedule, I don’t. I wrote “Saving Halloween” over a couple months, critiqued it with my group for a few more months, re-wrote, edited, worked on it some more… all told it took a year from start to finish.

Stephanie: What book project are you currently working on?
Lisa: I’m working on a young adult futuristic work and it is in a very rough mode! It’s a stretch for me to write for this age group, but I’m enjoying it.

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?
Lisa: Through the website
while searching for well-known independent book reviewers.

Stephanie:  Is there a person or writer that has inspired you?

Lisa: Roald Dahl and J.K.Rowling are my favorite children’s book authors. I love the complexity of the Harry Potter series, plus the characters, magic, story development – all of it! Dahl’s works are funny and magical and a true reminder of my own childhood reading. I’m inspired to write like Dahl.
Stephanie: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Lisa: I wanted to be an author as a kid, but then went on to love languages, worked abroad, had a long career in corporate life, before quitting to become a stay-at-home mom and turn to writing.
Stephanie: What is your favorite quote?
Lisa: Well, it has to be from “Saving Halloween” and a critical quote to the story: “You will see what you wish to see,” says Fenris Spavento.

Stephanie: Thank you, Lisa!


A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Lisa Ard who is the author of, Saving Halloween, one of our medallion honorees at . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Saving Halloween merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.


Review: Interred with Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

Interred with their bones

What do you say when an author combines Shakespeare with a mystery that traverses two different lifetimes? And it’s the author’s first work of fiction, no less? Amazing. Could it have been better? Of course. There’s not many works that cannot stand to be improved.

For lovers of Shakespeare, as I am, Interred is a delight, as Carrell includes copious amount of detail about the writer, his life and works, the on-going debate as to his identity, and the search for works that could be attributed to him. Athenaide’s “Hamletonian” estate, including the trick of hidden passageways that lay behind fireplaces, was a nice bonus.

The mystery part seemed almost to be a part of the back story, Shakespeare the motivating force of the book. Hints of this were found in the sudden appearance of a British detective inspector (in American terms – a plain clothes police detective) in the States and the way Athenaide’s housekeeper ended up collapsing in the driveway. A little warning or foundation for these, and others like them, would have helped smooth over the rough edges. My other main concern was the pile up bodies and Kate’s somewhat lack of concern of whom might be doing it – a continuing naiveté that should have been dispelled after the second body?

That being said, I loved Kate in that she made me want to go out and conduct research and read some Shakespeare. The ending was better than most mysteries, which seem to end with all the threads tied, all the issues resolved. It was also a surprise, which seemed to pull the mystery out of the back story and merge it with the Shakespearean elements.

Overall, I would give it 3.5 stars, if Goodreads accepted half stars.

Reviewed by Susan Berry

Layered Pages Review Team Member

Review: Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara


Love, loss and conflicting loyalties and promises- this story sweeps you into the 1930’s, a town in Cascade, Massachusetts. Who is fighting for their very own survival of a flood that is to create a reservoir for Boston. A women-Desdemona, who has made promises to her dying father and bound to the man she married. Yet she yearns to for a life of an artist and falls for a young Jewish man. Author Maryanne O’Hara brings you raw emotions in her characters, their lives and gives you a sense of timeless love and beauty. I have to admit when I opened the first page and started reading, I had a hard time getting into it. So I stepped away for a few days and went back to it. Because I literally had just finished a book that was set in the 19 Century and I picked this one up immediately afterwards.  Not the best idea in the world….once I picked it up again, the story drawled me in and I was memorized. I truly admire the authors writing style and her way with characterization. The story all around is just beautiful-like I mentioned above and I highly recommend this novel.


About the Author

Maryanne O'Hara

Maryanne O’Hara was the longtime associate fiction editor at the award-winning literary journal Ploughshares. She received her MFA from Emerson College fifteen years ago, and wrote short fiction that was widely published before committing to the long form. She lives on a river near Boston.


Review: Betrayed Countess by Diane Scott Lewis

Betrayed Countess

Set in England at the time of the French Revolution, a misplaced countess Bettina is struggling to fit in and make a life for herself while also hiding from those who would like to see her lose her head in France.  The plot of this book, noble woman betrayed and stranded with nothing but the clothes on her back, has admittedly been done before.  What makes this version interesting and fresh are the colorful descriptions and characters.  Bettina’s struggles to fit in among the lower classes and earn a living are at times both funny and pitiful.  Her friends in Cornwall are endearing and cheeky making them immensely likeable.  Ms. Lewis has managed to fill this volume to bursting with mystery, danger, and love; a true historical romance.  The ending could stand alone, but has left me interested to read more and hopeful for a sequel.

The story flows well with few unnecessary tangents and/or side stories.  The writing and editing are both good, without notable grammatical problems or lapses in tense.  The dialogue between characters flows smoothly and comfortably, helping to put the reader into the story.  Not being a historian, I cannot speak to the actual truth to time and place.  However, on the whole the story felt true to place and time, with perhaps a few artistic licenses taken in the development of Bettina’s romance.  The cover design is lovely and helps establish some visual imagery for the story setting.

Reviewed by Brandy Strake

Layered Pages Review Team Co-Leader

Interview with Author Evan Ostryznuik

Stephanie: Hello Evan, thank you for chatting with me today. Please tell me about your book, “Of Fathers and Sons.”

Evan: A pleasure to be here. Well, the novel takes place in 1395 in northern Italy, where tensions among the great regional powers were running high – the schism in the Catholic Church had not yet closed; Florence and Milan were gearing up for another war; Venice was starting to show interest in the mainland; in other words, there was a fine balance of power in the region and just about any conflict could ignite a war that would engulf the whole peninsula. The ruler of the strategically located Marquisate of Ferrara had just died and left a minor in his place. This uncertainty was enough to attract the attention of the great powers, and each of them knew that the territory’s occupation by one or another power would tip that fragile balance. Also, the Este family was popular as wise rulers and excellent soldiers, and so keeping them as an ally was good policy. This is the broad picture. Specifically, the story is about how that minor, the twelve-year-old Niccolo d’Este, fought his uncle and tried to overcome his own insecurities and challenges. And the English Free Company arrives to help.

evans book

Stephanie: Sounds really fascinating and I enjoy reading novels that take place during that time period in history. What was your inspiration for this story?


Evan: The inspiration for this story came from the Este Inheritance itself, which included not just land and lakes, but also a legacy of strong and wise rule. The boy had a lot to live up to. Until this time, the city of Ferrara and its surrounding area comprised more or less a backwater in Italian politics, but the Este family was able transform this marginal territory into one of the great Renaissance centers, politically, socially and culturally. They introduced a number of administrative innovations that secure their, fostered economic progress, and patronized progressive thinkers. The events of 1395, specifically the civil war between the two main branches of the Este family, were pivotal in this regard. Not just the fate of the city was involved, but also the legacy of the Este family, since had things turned out differently, Ferrara would have likely taken another direction or been absorbed by one of the neighboring powers. There was a lot riding on this war.

Also, the fact that a child on the cusp of adolescence was at the heart of intrigue gave me a change to pursue writing about the High Middle Ages from a different angle. Character interactions have to be plotted with especial care to make them convincing, juvenile understanding and expectations had to be considered and integrated into the plot, and even parents must be found a role. In some ways, Geoffrey Hotspur is just a boy himself.

Stephanie: How long did it take you to write this novel?

Evan: Since Of Fathers and Sons is a part of a series, I could say that they novel can be traced back to the literary birth of Geoffrey Hotspur 3-4 years ago. It grew out of the great mass of research I did on the 14th-15th centuries. The actual setting of this story down on paper took about a year, after several fits and starts. While I have the story lodged in my head, finding the right voice required several shots at the target.

Stephanie: What was some of the research involved?

Evan: I was fortunate to get my hands on a few key texts that really helped bring to life the Este clan and the Marquisate of Ferrara, which meant that I had few gaps to fill with what I like to call ‘oblique research’. By this I mean reading up on related period settings, families, events, and the like and making educated assumptions about how my story might have looked like. All genuine historians do this, since the historical record is never close to being complete or satisfying. I always find the researching for a novel a lot of fun, whether access is easy or difficult. I not only learn so much about the people and the period, but so many ideas for the novel manifest themselves from the research – details, information, relationships, and even dialog just pour themselves into the gaps of the story’s structure. I think, like most writers, I could spin the story out indefinitely and it would be no less engrossing.

Stephanie: What are some of the fictional aspects?

Evan: The two leaders of the English Free Company are fictional, or rather they are composites of a number of historical personages. To some degree, they are archetypes. Just read Chaucer! As a result, their journey is necessarily fictional, although the setting and the major events of their adventure are well grounded in historical reality. The point is to reflect the zeitgeist as closely as possible through an independent literary agent. No historical figure was ever able to visit all the great moments of their time! Geoffrey Hotspur and his companion can do that and bring both the events and those who truly made them to vibrant light.

Stephanie: What intrigues you the most about Geoffrey Hotspur and John of Gaunt?

Evan: What most intrigues me about these men is their relationship to fatherhood and patriarchy. Hotspur is an orphan of unknown provenance and a ward of Gaunt, while the great duke had a troubled relationship with his own son, the eventual King Henry IV and was poor father figure to the last Plantagenet king, his nephew Richard II. The tensions inherent in patriarchal relationships, particularly in the Middle Ages, are some of the main themes of the English Free Company series. Geoffrey in particular is troubled by it, for reasons of fear and insecurity, and as a result many of his decisions and views are strongly colored by this question. Both men had strong determined characters, yet long-term success always seemed to elude them. Family was crucial, but difficult. The role of the father was particularly important at this time and crucial in the lives of his sons. A poor or unsuccessful father could have dire consequences for the entire family and its descendants.

Stephanie: Will there be a third book in this series?

There will be a third, fourth and fifth book of the series! The next adventure of Geoffrey Hotspur follows hard on the heels of this one, but takes place in exotic locales in the Outremer, or the Levant. 1396 was the year of the very last European Crusade in the Holy Land, and there is no way Geoffrey is going to miss it! Hospitaller knights, Hungarian lords, Grand Constables of France, and poor squires with gather to drive the Ottoman Turks out of Christendom.

Stephanie: How exciting! What is the most challenging aspect of writing Historical Fiction?

Evan: The most challenging aspect of writing Historical Fiction is filling in the blank spots. Finding the stories is easy. The historical record is by nature fragmentary, especially for the Middle Ages, and so I must make convincing, educated assumptions about so many things. Some are inferred, such as personal motivations, based on the historical consequences. For example, battlefield tactics, which are crucial to my novels, have been recorded, but the application of these tactics by this or another company sometimes require backward projection based on the result of the battle or the observations of contemporary chroniclers. On more than one occasion I have had to delete large chunks of text because what I wrote either could not fit in with what History had to say or was contradicted by a newly discovered piece of research.

Stephanie: When did you first begin to write and knew you wanted to be an author?  

Evan: Funny enough, in elementary school I began creating stories through pictures with no words attached. I would take a sheet of 8.5X11 and draw a scene of…whatever. Then I would take more paper and draw the same collection of figures and setting in another way, and again, until I had a sort of film that I would tape together to produce a single visual narrative. This was fun until the teacher said enough was enough and I had to get back to work. Proper writing I did not start until college, when I would write short stories and vignettes from my life, mainly for myself, but also for others to be amused. I continued writing these vignettes until after I completed my doctorate at Cambridge, when I gave myself that challenge of writing a novel based on my interests in history. I did, and no one wanted to publish it. However, the very process of writing generated many other ideas for different novels and stories, which I found very gratifying. Now, the ideas are running out of control!

Stephanie: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to write in this genre?

Evan: Getting the facts straight is the most obvious suggestion, but if I hard to offer a single piece of key advice regarding historical fiction, I would have to say that the writer had better make sure that his or her story cannot take place at any other era. Otherwise, it loses its purpose. What I mean by that is that character, setting, motivations, mentality, even speech needs to be grounded in the historical period. Always fear anachronisms. If the work is sloppy or unconvincing, the author will swiftly lose credibility. This threat is particularly great for historical fiction because nothing can be taken for granted. The reader wants to believe he or she is proverbially going back in time. Other genres have their own challenges, but they are less dependent on good, hard technical research. Fantasy and science fiction can have whatever set of internally logical rules they want; contemporary fiction is easy to portray by virtue of direct experience; detective novels have well established structures. For historical fiction, you are only as good as your research and your ability to transfer it convincingly to the blank page.

Stephanie: What is your favorite quote?

Evan: This is a tough question because I live in fear of unconscious plagiarism. But one that has stuck with me for its humor and hard truth is a few words attributed to Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Stephanie: Evan, it was an honor to chat with you! Thanks!

evanEvan Ostryzniuk was born and raised on the prairies of western Canada. After graduating   from the University of Saskatchewan with a B.A. in History and Modern Languages and an M.A. in Modern History, Evan crossed the ocean to do post-graduate work at the University of Cambridge, concluding four years of research with a doctoral thesis on the Russian Revolution. He then found his way to Eastern Europe, where he took up positions as a magazine editor, university lecturer and analyst in the financial services sector before rising in the ranks of the local publishing industry to become Editor-in-Chief of a popular weekly.

Evan Ostryzniuk currently resides in Kyiv, Ukraine near a very large candy factory. He has travelled extensively, including the locations of his novels. Of Fathers and Sons: Geoffrey Hotspur and the Este Inheritance is his second novel.[SH1]

Link to Tour Schedule:
Twitter Hashtag: #FathersAndSonsTour

evans tour banner

Interview with Author Teresa Neumann

Stephanie: Born and raised in Iowa, Teresa Neumann and her husband now live in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, a beautiful place they and their children have called home for several decades. In addition to writing and interacting with her readers, Teresa loves to travel (to Italy, of course) and fiddling on her violin with other musicians. You can find Teresa’s books on Amazon, or on her website at


 Author Teresa Neumann


Teresa, it is a pleasure to be interviewing you! Your first novel, Bianca’s Vineyard was absolutely wonderful and moving. Please tell your readers about, Domenico’s Table.


Teresa: Although Domenico’s Table – the post-war sequel to Bianca’s Vineyard – is about a different branch of the Bertozzi family, it is also inspired by a true story.  


One of the main characters in DT is our cousin Domenico Sacchelli, the gregarious proprietor of a stunning bed and breakfast property he inherited from his grandparents situated in the mountains of Tuscany overlooking the Ligurian Sea. His pizzas, made with his own olive oil and cheeses in a wood oven, are to die for.


I was inspired to write the book during our first visit to Domenico’s farmhouse, or fattoria, which he rents out every summer to a former Nazi soldier who had stormed the mountain during the war and commandeered his home. Domenico was a child at the time, but he recalls the terror of that day when he and his family barely escaped with their lives from the onslaught.


The fact is, many Italians continue to bear deep resentments and anger towards Germany because of atrocities that occurred during the war. Little wonder then, that when Domenico first began renting out his fattoria to the German soldier and his family, it created quite a stir among his neighbors. Domenico would joke that he was simply being smart and “turning the table” on the Germans by making money off their former enemies, but over the years the two men developed a friendship.


I took this remarkable story and added an international ensemble of fictional characters, some heavy doses of drama and intrigue, loads of dreamy Italian locations, tension-filled romance, and a sprinkling of light-heartedness and came up with Domenico’s Table.



Stephanie: It certainly is a remarkable story. I’m currently reading your novel and I’m enjoying it so much! I feel as if I’ve drawn so close to your characters and they feel as if they’re family.


I’m sure your readers-who have not read your sequel as of yet- want to know…Are any of the characters in Bianca’s Vineyard in Domenico’s Table?


Teresa: Yes, but dare I mention who without spoiling the surprise? Let’s just say that Bianca Corrotti is the narrator in Domenico’s Table, as she was in Bianca’s Vineyard, and that the “mystery” of Armida’s locket is resolved in the sequel.


Speaking of characters, I should let readers know that Rem Malloy – a delightful Italian-American tour operator – is organizing a Bianca’s Vineyard & Domenico’s Table Book Tour in Italy next year. His highly acclaimed Seattle-based travel company, Italy4Real, is currently solidifying an itinerary that will include several days in Tuscany where we will meet some of the characters in my books, see locations mentioned in them, visit Armida’s gravesite, and perhaps even have a dinner at Domenico’s fattoria on Monte Montignoso, hosted by the intrepid chef himself. Rem wants to keep tours small — no more than 8 people. Anyone interested can contact him at 1-800-554-5170 or email him at  Just ask about the Bianca’s Vineyard Tour.


teresa neumann sequel


Stephanie: You give vivid details of what war was like during that period and for the people. What was your research like? Where you able to speak with anyone who lived during that time? Or were there letters you were able to look over?


Teresa: In addition to travelling frequently to Italy to visit family, we also have family and friends in Germany. Their help was invaluable when it came to research and translations. I was also able to interview my husband’s elderly Italian cousins who lived through the war before they passed away. What a privilege that was! Other family members in Tuscany spent days showing us many of the sites and monuments pertinent to the war, such as the infamous Sant’Anna and locations along the Gothic Line.


Stephanie: How wonderful to be able to travel to Italy. I’ve always wanted to go there.


How long did it take you to write Domenico’s Table?


Teresa: It helped that I had a good idea for the sequel before I began, but still, it took about a year to write and get it into print.


Stephanie: Were there any challenges?


Teresa: Certemente! With BV the plot was there for the telling. I simply wrote the story of my husband’s grandparents as it actually happened, filling in here and there where I needed to. But with DT, I had to develop the plot to a much greater degree, which stretched me as a writer.


Tying the loose ends together from the first book and yet doing it in a way that would allow the sequel to be a stand-alone novel, was another challenge.


The most daunting challenge of all, I believe, is getting the final manuscript to publication and then marketing it. There are deadlines to deal with and so many minute, permanent decisions that – once the book is in print – can’t be changed. I love meeting and mingling with my readers, but marketing my own work is still a foreign concept, which is why I am eternally grateful for my precious reviewers and Goodread fans!


Stephanie: What is the hardest aspect of writing historical fiction?


Teresa: I love research – perhaps too much. It’s easy to get bogged down in facts, and although it’s essential to be historically accurate, if factuality comes at the expense of characterization, it can dull the reading experience considerably. After all, if someone only wants the facts they’ll read a textbook on the subject. Historical fiction is, in the end, about story. It’s a delirious blend of fact and fiction; a sort of melding of the left brain and the right brain. So, I have to work hard at fleshing out my characters and making facts come alive for my readers.


Stephanie: Research can be time consuming but well worth it.


What are some of the fiction parts to the story?


Teresa: The basis of Domenico’s Table, as mentioned above, is inspired by a true story. The rest – the German soldier and his haunting past, his granddaughter and her American stepsister – have been fictionalized.


It’s true that Domenico’s father had to hide in their chestnut tree to escape detection when the Nazi’s stormed their mountain, but the story of his mother and their neighbor is not.


Readers often ask me about Marco, Domenico’s handsome co-laborer at the bed and breakfast. His looks and persona are based on our real cousin Marco, who was a Milanese model for some time, but is now a happily married father living in Rome. The rest, however, is fictionalized.


Stephanie: Marco is one of my favorites! Is there a novel you are currently working on?


Teresa: Yes, and it’s set in the early 1970’s. The main character is Italian-American, but it takes place entirely in California. The title of the book may be a bit misleading – A Year in the Company of Freaks – but to all my faithful Italian-American readers out there, trust me, I’m sure you’ll still relate to it.


Stephanie: Sounds wonderful! I can’t wait to read it!


What is your favorite historical event?


Teresa: WWII, because all of humanity’s inherent shortcomings and virtues came together on such a grand, global, gory scale. My father and uncles served in that war and their stories never cease to amaze me. America’s Civil War is also a source of great intrigue. My ancestors fought each other over the North-South divide, so maybe it’s a personal thing, although I must admit I’ve always had an odd fascination with military history in general.


Stephanie: It looks like we have a lot in common with our family tree as far as family fighting in wars. Military history is very fascinating.


What is your favorite all time novel and why?


Teresa: There are so many great classic and modern novels to choose from, Stephanie, how can I pick just one?!


Stephanie: I can’t pick one! It’s a tough question!


Teresa: Of all the books I’ve read recently, my favorite is The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani. Granted, I’m a sucker for all things Italian, but her novel in several parts is quite nearly a masterpiece.


I cut my teeth on Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Dickens, and Hardy, so they were my first literary loves. Milton’s Paradise Lost blew my mind. Was completely smitten with Sigrid Undset’s Nobel prize-winning trilogy Kristin Lavransdatter.


Thinking of the Civil Was, I was reminded that Southern writers are my favorite! I think a truly great novel will mess with your head. You’ll think about it for days and it will not only resonate in your soul for the rest of your life, but it becomes a mental landmark in your worldview. I can’t hear about tornado tragedies, for example, without thinking of Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River. I should also mention that I rank Southern stories and
writers — Tennessee Williams, Flannery O’Connor, The Help and The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood — as among the best literary talent this country has to offer. I find them utterly irresistible and they almost never fail to captivate me.


So if I can only pick one all-time favorite novel, for the above reasons the prize would go to Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. I mean, Jean Valjean? Javert? Fantine? The story and its characters are simply timeless, as are the themes of hope, redemption and restoration.


Stephanie: Teresa, it has been a pleasure chatting with you today! Thank you for your time!