All of my main female characters have elements of my own personality—my better traits—and the best of my daughter and mother as well. As a trio we are formidable!
Giulia left home (as I did) but I married another Italian-American. Totally accidental.
Part of Giulia's character and story are based on the real life experience of a friend from closer to that era who left home and then defied her parents by marrying a non-Italian-American. She looks like the woman I describe as Giulia and the scene where John lifts Giulia up off the train to kiss her is taken from their real story. (With her permission.)
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Hard to answer since I am often doing quirky things. I don’t believe in following the crowd or trying to lead it. I simply follow my own path. A lot of times this leads me into fun activities, like writing poems, giving one-person plays for the other kids while I was in grade school, going down to see candidate John F Kennedy as he drove into
When did you first discover that you were a writer “write” stories with crayon squiggles on paper and “read” them to my parents.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I'm an omnivore when it comes to reading—pretty much. I read mystery, light romance (no sex,please), YA, picture books, biography, serious history, poetry, some science fiction. I like long novels, action adventure, short stories, humor, novellas, and short shorts.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
A morning meditation time with Bible reading and a long walk.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I think about it a long time and often look for names that are the same or similar to names of people I admire, and of friends. “Bad guy” names I take from imagination and hope they aren’t the same as that of any real person.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Being a mom.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Lion. I love lions. Svelte, sleek Mommy lion protecting her brood and lounging about with her hubby lion—hmmmm, maybe not so far off from my reality now that hubby is retired.
What is your favorite food?
No hesitation here--pasta!!!!! Especially rigatoni in marinara sauce, simple but delectable. Use the finest grade pasta you can afford and 6-in-1 tomatoes.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Energy and procrastination. Deadline helps and exercise and self discipline
Tell us about the featured book?
Please give us the first page of the book.
Giulia Goes to War
Anna Maria DeBartolo shook her graying head as she marched up and down in the small space in front of the kitchen sink. “I am a loyal American. We have a
. I send my cans to
the surplus drive.” With the wooden spoon she held in her hand, she gestured
toward the front of the house and the dining room window facing Victory
Garden Main Street and
continued, “I have two blue stars in the window—both of your brothers are
serving or did you forget, Giulia? We are with the war effort so you working
here, in your Papa's store, is helping the war effort."
With each word, Mama's voice got louder and louder, almost drowning out the music signaling the ending moments of the “Stella Dallas” radio program. Giulia, her daughter, ran a hand over her own dark hair. She hoped no one was walking past the house. Whenever Mama shouted, Giulia worried the neighbors would hear her through the open windows. A light breeze ruffled the kitchen curtains, but did nothing to cool down her mother. Giulia tried to keep her own voice calm, even, and respectful as she answered. She wanted to be rational and build a good case for leaving Avocatown to work for the war effort in
Pittsburgh or . Washington, DC
“Mama, I don’t do anything that really matters at the store. Nothing I do is anything you and Papa couldn’t do without me. They need people in the offices and factories in
Pittsburgh and .
Most of my high school friends, almost the entire class of 1942 left right
after graduation and I could live with some of them in either city.” Washington, DC
“No! E una disgrazia!”
As soon as her mother switched completely to Italian, Giulia knew that her logical
argument had not worked. When Mama got really upset, her voice became more and more heavily accented, as well as louder. At the peak of stubborn insistence, Mama switched entirely from English to her native Italian. Papa was the same way, although his fuse was shorter, so his timeline from hot and heavily accented English to full Italian was much quicker. “Mama, it is not a disgrace to live with other girls in
if I am living there to help the war effort. Besides, I would only live with
girls whose parents you know.”
Mama shook her head violently from side to side. “Non, Non, Non! E una disgrazia per
Giulia's heart sank. A disgrace in and of itself. Mama simply did not believe it was
possible for a young girl to live alone and still be a “good girl.” Good girls lived with their mother and father until they were married, war or no war. Giulia fought back tears. She picked four plates out of the drying rack on the side of the sink and carried them into the dining room. She laid them down to set the table for dinner. She knew it was not possible to continue a conversation with Mama about this until Mama had calmed down.
On subjects like this, new American ways of doing things, Papa was usually the difficult
one. Mama liked the increased freedoms of life in
and was much more on the
American side of most issues than Giulia's father. So, the Mama-first method of discussion usually worked quite well as a way for Giulia to convince her parents to allow her to do something not old-world endorsed. Mama would agree and then Mama would convince Papa to do whatever it was the American way instead of, the way we always did it in
Italy. Mama was usually able to
make him see how doing things the American way would not make him less Italian.
Giulia smiled, recalling how this Mama-first strategy got Papa to agree to allow Giulia to
attend her first high school dance. At first, both of her parents had refused permission. Ralph, the boy who had invited her, was an “Americano.” Neither parent liked the idea of her going with anyone as a date.
Mama said, “We really think it is better for you to go with a group of girls to the dance or
even with some boys and girls in a group of friends.”
While they washed and dried the dinner dishes one night, Giulia had put the "Mama-first" strategy into action. She had explained the situation carefully: “It’s the kind of dance where we get together as friends when we are there. Each girl and boy goes separately. Besides, there are not a lot of boys left at school. A lot of them dropped out of high school to go into the service right after
Mama agreed to the spring dance. Papa also agreed, but a family friend had to escort her. So, Giulia went to the dance with Sal, short for Salvatore, the son of a family friend and a close friend of her brothers. Sal was a year older than she and had graduated from the school the year before. He was tall and dark and good looking, and knew a lot of the same people Giulia knew. In fact, he had been on the football team with Ralph, the tall blonde boy who had asked her out in the first place.
Sal had not gone off to war yet. He had tested as 4-F due to flat feet. As they walked from her house to the school gym for the dance, Sal told her how he had been doing exercises to make his feet less flat. “I roll them every night on a metal bar—my sister’s old baton. My Dad, he knows someone on the draft board and this time I think I will make it. I'm hoping to get into the Marines.”
When they arrived at the dance, several girls in the in group were surprised to see Giulia at all and especially with someone who used to be on the school’s football team. Sal was careful to act the part of a concerned date, someone who knew her well, not someone forced to go to this one dance with the little sister of a friend. Sal listened thoughtfully when she told him about how, after graduation, she wanted to go with her friends to
Pittsburgh or Washington and work for
the war effort. Later, when the Americano boy, Ralph, came up and asked if he
could swing her around the floor once or twice, Sal winked at her and said, “You
can give her a twirl or two around the floor, but she goes home with me.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Joan Leotta Author and Story Performer
They can also find me as a speaker in the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
And on the voices in theGoogle my name and I will appear!
as a performer Glen Website
Thank you, Joan, for sharing this new ebook with us.
Readers, here’s a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
Legacy of Honor Book One: Guilia Goes to War
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