Now that my debut novel BELLA FORTUNA is out, readers have often asked me, “What was your inspiration and motivation for writing about a wedding dress seamstress/designer who’s also planning her wedding in Venice?”
My wedding six years ago definitely was part of the inspiration for my heroine Valentina DeLuca’s wedding. I remember the enormous pressure I was under to get my own wedding right, especially since I was planning it all myself. Though it was a stressful time, it was also a wonderful time, and I’ll admit, part of me wanted to relive those special days when I was immersed in looking at photos upon photos of lacy wedding dresses, bolder-than-life flowers, and fairy-tale-like venues. What better way to capture once again that moment than by writing about a heroine who also happens to be a wedding dress seamstress/designer and who is trying to create the perfect gown? But I also wanted to go deeper and show what could happen when a bride-to-be gets too caught up in trying to have the perfect wedding, or in Valentina’s case, the perfect dress.
Many brides lose sight of what their weddings are truly about: a milestone in their relationships as well as a special occasion to commemorate their love and commitment to each other. Instead, brides fall prey to ensuring nothing goes wrong at their weddings and making only the right choices where their dresses, flowers, and catering menus are concerned. But what brides forget is that life is imperfect so how can they expect their weddings to be perfect? Of course it’s natural for everyone to want the best on their wedding day and hope that all will flow smoothly with no major disasters occurring. But as almost every bride I’ve spoken to will confirm, there was always something that didn’t go the way they’d expected. And most of the brides did not dwell on what didn’t work out, but rather on what did. So one of my hopes for readers as they read Bella Fortuna is that if they are planning a wedding, the novel will help them realize and stay focused on what’s truly significant: their love for the man they will spend the rest of their days with.
Another one of my motives for writing about a family of wedding dress seamstresses/designers was to showcase the amazing skill and art of sewing. I truly believe being a seamstress is akin to being an artist. For just like an artist, a seamstress envisions first in her mind what her finished creation will look like. With painstaking effort, a seamstress works until her project matches the ideal vision she had at the onset. When coming up with the idea for Bella Fortuna, I was also inspired by my mother’s seamstress skills and her love of creating beautiful clothes.
My mother sewed much of my wardrobe when I was a child. When I was a schoolgirl and my friends complimented my outfits, I took pride in telling them that my mother had sewn the clothes. I knew I was lucky to have a mother who could create for me any style of clothing I desired. She could also replicate fashions in magazines. Even when my mother was copying a fashion from a page in a magazine or the few times she chose to use a pattern, she always put her own unique twist on the clothing she created. The true artist that she was, she used her creativity to put her individual stamp on her finished piece.
My mother learned to sew when she was as young as seven-years-old. Her father was a tailor of men’s suits, and he had taught my mother and her older sister how to sew. She often told me if she didn’t get a stitch right or even iron a pleat correctly in the completed trousers of the suit she and her father had sewn, she was instructed to do so again and again until it was perfect. Like many other seamstresses and artists, my mother always strived for perfection when she was sewing. While so many of her clothes came out close to perfect, she realized that perfection wasn’t the sole purpose for sewing. She loved just as much the process of stumbling when her stitches didn’t line up correctly.
Whether you’re planning your wedding or another occasion in your life, remember that some of the bumps you’ll inevitably hit are part of that special moment. And like a skilled seamstress who’s in control of the direction her stitches follow, ultimately it’s up to you to steer your destiny and make the most of every minute.
by Rosanna Chiofalo
Kensington Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing
August 28, 2012 / Trade Paperback / Original / Fiction
Author Residence: Forest Hills, NY
In BELLA FORTUNA, an enchanting debut novel set in both Venice and New York, Rosanna Chiofalo draws upon her own cultural heritage and experiences as a first-generation American growing up in Queens, NY. Readers are transported alongside Valentina DeLuca, a 30 year-old dressmaker, as she travels from the sidewalks of her close-knit New York neighborhood to the canals of Venice in what turns out to be much more than just a destination wedding trip. With its strong, stereotype-defying characters and evocative descriptions, BELLA FORTUNA is as much a tribute to Italian American culture as it is a stunning story about love, luck and second chances.
Rosanna Chiofalo is a first-generation Italian American whose parents emigrated from Sicily to New York in the early 1960s. Since graduating with a B.A. in English from Stony Brook University, she has worked as a Copywriter and Copy Director for several New York City publishers. Rosanna is a member of the Romance Writers of America and The Order Sons of Italy.
Readers can visit her website at www.RosannaChiofalo.com