Interview with the Lost Witch
Welcome to Witch Week on Infinite Reads! This week, we’ll be talking with Suzanne Palmieri (who also writes as Suzanne Hayes) and Loretta Nyhan. This dynamic duo are taking the publishing world by storm. Not only do both of them have debut novels out right now, their co-author debut I’ll Be Seeing You hit shelves today!
We’re kicking off with a fun word-association, stream-of-consciousness interview with Suzanne. I made her do it. I was like, “I’m gonna throw words at you and you’re gonna talk!” and she was like “Okay!” because Suzanne is this amazingly free-spirited, go-with-the-flow, pour-her-heart-out awesome kind of woman. We are talking here about her debut:
The Witch of Little Italy
by Suzanne Palmieri
St. Martin’s Griffin, $14.99 hardback, ISBN-10 1250015510, March 2013
In Suzanne Palmieri’s charming debut, The Witch of Little Italy, you will be bewitched by the Amore women. When young Eleanor Amore finds herself pregnant, she returns home to her estranged family in the Bronx, called by “The Sight” they share now growing strong within her. She has only been back once before when she was ten years old during a wonder-filled summer of sun-drenched beaches, laughter and cartwheels. But everyone remembers that summer except her. Eleanor can’t remember anything from before she left the house on her last day there. With her past now coming back to her in flashes, she becomes obsessed with recapturing those memories. Aided by her childhood sweetheart, she learns the secrets still haunting her magical family, secrets buried so deep they no longer know how they began. And, in the process, unlocks a mystery over fifty years old—The Day the Amores Died—and reveals, once and for all, a truth that will either heal or shatter the Amore clan.
So, that’s what the book’s all about. I love this sweet debut. It’s definitely a snuggle up with a blanket and tea kind of book. In the following interview, I asked Suzanne to explain why some of the big themes in this book resonate so strongly with her and with readers. Oh, and here’s what Suzanne looks like:
And here’s what she has to say on…
SP: Aren’t we all witches? Men, women, children. We know things. Who’s calling. When a storm is near. We share common ideas: Palms Itchy? Money on its way! Ears ringing? Someone is talking about you! I like to think of WITCHES as people who understand instinct. And it’s a muscle, you know. The more you use it, the more you trust it, the more it speaks to you. Don’t we all sense danger? Sorrow? Joy?
Ah, witches. Witches, witches… everywhere.
On mothers and daughters:
SP: There is perhaps no greater love. And because of that, no greater sorrow. The push and pull of letting go and holding on. The ache of loss and gain.
There is no end to the theme of loss when someone has had a hard (or non-existent) relationship with their mother or their daughter. My books, all of them (Palmieri and/or Hayes) explore this theme. Mother means home. Mother also has the word MOTH in it. Moths eat holes in sweaters. Also, drawn to light. That is what I know. Also? We all have a chance to undo our own fate as we love our own children. I want to share that through my stories.
On grandmas and granddaughters:
SP: OH THE GRANDMA LOVE. See, the gram? She is wise. She can also love you in a way that mothers can’t. She doesn’t have to discipline (though she can); she is made of comfort and food and love. At least mine was. And practical magic. Always.
SP: There is nothing more compelling than a secret. And each one of us carries them deep inside. A secret can be tiny, yet grow big. The more layers we hide it under. The more linens. The more loss. If a story doesn’t have a secret, where is the story? I have many, many secrets. I’m planning on divulging them to the world one novel at a time.
On first love:
SP: Smells like cotton and first kisses. The first time you lose your breath. The first time that cartoons don’t matter. I had one. It’s a secret.
On vintage names, vintage nightgowns, vintage everything:
SP: Everything interesting needs to remind you of something else! I could spend hours and hours in a vintage shop. Sifting through old photographs. Honoring what was. Because the here and now? That is the “what was” of tomorrow. I don’t want to be forgotten, do you? Does anyone? We are one breathing being with a shared collective memory. Linens and lace. Photographs and lockets. Fresh cut grass. Willow trees. It’s all the same. Nostalgia is where I live. When I write, I want to revisit the comforts of what I knew and the things that brought others comfort. If I have a memory of those things, a love for them, others will too! Long live vintage everything. My daughters names are Rosemary Lillian, Teresa Sophia (we call her Tess), and Grace Louise. At least you know I’m consistent!
On the Bronx:
SP: All little Italys share the same “vibe”. Warm, inviting, and at the same time? Exotic. I lived in the Bronx for the duration of my Masters (Sociology, Fordham). I was on entitlement programs and had a toddler in tow. That community made things easier. Warmer. More delightful than I’d ever dreamed. I can still hear the sounds and smell the fine bread baking. I loved revisiting that community as I wrote The Witch of Little Italy.
Suzanne seems to be making quite a splash with this baby, selling out book signings and having her book picked up for distribution by Wal-Mart and Target, so do not miss it. It’s just the beginning of a promising career!
Later this week, I’ll take a look at I’ll Be Seeing You, have a chat with Loretta Nyhan about her debut The Witch Collector, and we’ll hear what Suzanne has to say about pasta sauce and grandmothers. Stay tuned!