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Monday, July 10, 2017

New Release: ALL FOR A FISTFUL OF ASHES



Posted by Author R. Ann Siracusa

Readers are curious about where authors get the ideas for novels. It's the first question I hear when I speak to an audience. Most often the ideas come from something I've seen, heard, or experienced when I travel. However, my July release All For A Fist Full Of Ashes, the second novel in the Tour Director Extraordinaire series, came about a different way.

IN THE BEGINNING
The first book of the series, All For A Dead Man's Leg, was an experiment to see if I could write in first person and write humor. I'd never done either. The romantic suspense featured a young tour director finding out what life was all about as a tour director in Europe and a Europol spy with a dark past. I loved the characters, and I loved the voice, but I never intended to write a series featuring Harriet Ruby and Will Talbot. So, needless to say, neither the second book nor the series was planned.

THE BIRTH OF AN IDEA
In early 2005, my Italian-American daughter-in-law and members of her family decided to take a trip to Italy with a stop in London. She was taking her son, my grandson, so I decided to make the trip with them and bring along another grandson who was about the same age.
After mass confusion, and several family members wanting to go and then opting out, our little group ended up with thirteen Italian-Americans, including four teenagers and my daughter-in-law's father, Vita Zaso, who grew up in Palermo.
Oh, man! Knowing the way Italians make group decisions, I knew the trip was going to be a predictable disaster. So I decided I should at least get the material for a book out of it.
All I had to start with was a group of Italian-Americans taking a tour of Italy. That was a natural setting for my tour-guide heroine Harriet Ruby, who starred in All For A Dead Man's Leg. And if Harriet was my heroine, I needed Will Talbot on the trip with a spy story for him to chase after.
I came up with a story idea based on some family history and wrote the first three chapters before the trip, in part so I knew what to look for. The working title was "The Italian Train Wreck" and, as you can imagine, that's what the trip turned out to be: A Train Wreck.
Our 4 teenagers, friends, and Vito Zaso 
PIECES OF THE STORY
The characters in the book are fictitious and not based on any relatives who traveled with us or who didn't make the trip. We can be obnoxious, true, but a reviewer for Coffee Time Romance, wrote she didn't think there was a more obnoxious family on the planet than the Spinella/Mazza clan in the book. We're not that bad, but the trip provided many incidents that spiced up the novel and quite a few that didn't get into the book.
An ironic piece of the story behind the story is the brouhaha over the cremated ashes. In the book, Vita Spinella smuggled her brother's cremated ashes into Italy wrapped in Cuban cigars. A year after this book was written, Vito Zaso died. He had requested he be cremated and his ashes buried with his mother in Palermo.


An ironic piece of the story behind the story is the brouhaha over the cremated ashes. In the book, Vita Spinella smuggled her brother's cremated ashes into Italy wrapped in Cuban cigars. A year after this book was written, Vito Zaso died. He had requested he be cremated and his ashes buried with his mother in Palermo.
My daughter-in-law and her siblings went through all kinds of misery and discontent getting approval to bring the ashes into Italy. tIt took nearly four months of back and forth. Ultimately, they didn't have to smuggle the ashes wrapped in cigars, but at one point it seemed like that might be the best shot. The incident validated my research, and I dedicated the book to Vito.
The Four Teenagers
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
Part of this story is based loosely on my husband's maternal grandmother, Orsola Giannoni, who was born in Florence, probably in the early 1900s. She met a Sicilian sailor at a festival in Pisa and married him against her family's wishes. As a result, they disowned her and severed all contact.  She never heard from her family again.
In those days, Sicilians were considered lower than pond slime by northern Italians, and even today that is somewhat the case. My husband says his grandmother had red hair, blue eyes, and never spoke Sicilian in all the years she lived in Sicily because she thought it was such an ugly dialect.
 
During WWII, when the Americans were bombing Messina (Sicily), my husband, in his early teens, and his family left the city and lived in Bordonaro, a mountain town not too far away. Three families lived together in an old barn. Orsola, then an old woman, died during the heaviest part of the bombing.
Because of the attack, there was no one to take her body away. The families that live in the barn built a coffin out of the dining table, the only wood available, and used the casket as a table for several days. My mother-in-law used to the the story of crying all through the meals and asking, "Mamma, do you want a glass of wine.
When the bombing stopped, the government officials took away all the dead bodies en mass -- many had been killed -- and the family never found out where Orsola hab been buried. 


ABOUT ALL FOR A FISTFUL OF ASHES
Desert Breeze Publishing
97K
Amazon Buy Link

Overview

In All For A Fist Full of Ashes, tour director Harriet Ruby and Europol spy and special operative, Will Talbot -- who've been seeing each other for a year since meeting in Morocco -- come together in Italy where their work assignments again overlap.
Harriet is conducting a custom tour for fourteen members of an Italian-American family. The family matriarch is on a quest to find the unknown location of her mother's grave so she can bury her brother's cremated ashes which have been smuggled into Italy wrapped as Cuban cigars. Will has one of the family members under surveillance as a suspect in an assassination conspiracy.
Charming the matriarch, Will coaxes an invitation from her to join the tour. The quirky family members, including the four unruly teenagers and a pet green tree python named Fluffy, sweep through Italy in search of relatives and a lost grave and leave chaos, hilarity, and danger in their wake.
Will and Harriet find traveling together for twenty-four hours a day threatens their budding relationship which is fraught trust issues. Harriet wants to be involved in everything, and Will won't – or can't -- tell her anything about his case. Harriet's intervention leads her to intuit the time, place and victim of the conspiracy. Unable to reach Will, she puts herself in danger to thwart the assassination.

Blurb

I’m Harriet Ruby: Tour Director Extraordinaire.  At least, I thought I was worthy of that title.
My first mistake: Agreeing to conduct a private tour of Italy. Fourteen Italian-Americans from New Jersey? All family, for three weeks, with four teenagers? What was I thinking? Fate responds to my engraved invitation by placing one of the family members under surveillance as a suspect in an assassination plot. And who is assigned to the case?  None other than my favorite drop-dead-gorgeous spy, Will Talbot.
My second mistake: Allowing Will to coax an invitation from the family matriarch to join the tour.
And that was just the beginning. The matriarch, searching for the unknown location of her mother's grave so she can bury her brother's cremated ashes (which have been smuggled into Italy wrapped in Cuban cigars), and her quirky family members sweep through Italy leaving chaos, hilarity, and danger in their wake. 


AUTHOR R. ANN SIRACUSA
TRAVEL TO FOREIGN LANDS FOR ROMANCE AND INTRIGUE
with a novel by R. Ann Siracusa
 

5 comments:

Melissa Keir said...

Sounds like a fun read. I can't imagine a more fun but harried trip. Since you are writing the post, you survived and got a story out of it! Congrats!

Cara Marsi said...

Ann, I love your Tour Director Extraordinaire series. Coming from an Italian-American family, I can relate to your trip to Italy with 13 members of your family. So entertaining.

Paris said...

Being Italian-American on my father's side, I can just imagine how much fun you had on your family trip. I can't wait to read the new story. It sounds hilarious!

jean hart stewart said...

Sincere good wishes for your latest endeavor. Your type of humor is rare and precious.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer of sexy and funny fiction, blogger at Handbags, Books...Whatever said...

Wow, so interesting about your family in Sicily. I visited there and ate tomato everything and was it delicious. My aunt told me the other day my uncle had been stationed there briefly at the end of WW2.

The most I've ever traveled with was six. I can't imagine 13!!!

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