‘Madonna must play Simona’

  • May 5, 2020

“Giving the characters inside my head a voice is always exciting.”

Celestina’s Burnings received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Annemarie Schiavi Pedersen.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Celestina’s Burnings launched Jan. 1, 2020.

What’s the book’s first line?

“On a street bedeviled by bonfires, inside a small bakery, Celestina sniffed something burning.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch.” 

Against the majestic canvas of Renaissance Florence, a witch hunter battles her own demons and uncovers a wicked truth.

What inspired you to write the book?A particular person? An event?

My parents are Italian, so we visited Italy. I felt most at home in Florence among the Renaissance paintings and sculpture, imagining all the great stories going on during the Renaissance.

After I finished the first draft of Celestina’s Burnings, I took one of those NatGeo DNA tests, thinking I’d be half Roman, like my dad, and half Sicilian, like my mom. The results surprised me. My people are predominantly from Tuscany. Also, I discovered that I’m a descendant of Petrarch, the Tuscan poet who ushered in the Italian Renaissance movement.

No wonder I love Florence and am a writer. A gift from my Tuscan ancestors.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

For Celestina, an everyday baker girl who finds her voice. Celestina pushes against the most powerful people and ideas of Western Civilization. I love how she adapts. And in the end, with a little help from her friends, she just might get the better of them all. Plus, it’s got hot romance.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

Celestina bears a heavenly name, and her heart is as big as the universe.  I love her so much that I named a whole book after her. Celestina lives in exactly the right time and the right place in history. In Renaissance Florence, a young woman, if she was brave enough to speak up, had a chance to be heard. Celestina makes herself heard.

She’s fiery like Mary Queen of Scots.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

Madonna must play Simona. She’d be perfect.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I first discovered the power of literature around the second grade when I discovered author Beverly Cleary. I was an impressionable kid, so the antics of Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, Ramona Quimby, and Beezus Quimby spoke to me. I admired Beverly Cleary, and wished for an imagination like hers, to be able to see funny things in the world around me, to create a cast of wonderful characters that lived inside my mind, and to write about them.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

Celestina’s Burnings is the first novel I’ve gotten published. I wrote two before Celestina and for now they’re where they should be – set aside lovingly inside the metal file cabinet.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

Preserving the time to write is the hardest thing for me. Like everyone else, I have a lot going on. Days where I don’t have any responsibilities on my schedule are my best creative writing days. I write in chunks, and then dribble back and forth to my desk, cleaning up what I’ve written. Other days I work for a few hours after dinner.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Giving the characters inside my head a voice is always exciting. Also, I’d like to buy a cottage on a cool and clear lake in Northern Michigan, lol.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

I love the way Khaled Hosseini uses words. The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and Sea Prayer take my breath away.

Which book do you wish you could have written? 

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