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Interview with Loretta Giacoletto, author of The Family Angel


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Tell us about The Family Angel

Ah-h, one of my favourite topics … thanks for asking. The Family Angel revolves around the Americanization of an Italian family, from immigrant bootleggers and coalminers to proud winemakers and ambitious priests. To add further intrigue there’s a sarcastic Black Angel who shows up when least expected to offer advice or merely observe. The Family Angel has a cast of characters both flawed and daring, as well as scandalous behaviour for that era including a notorious Chicago brothel known as Night School, an affair between a bi-racial couple that lasts for years, and later a Vatican conspiracy involving the Church in transition.

What genre is it?
It’s historical and crime: sixty years of romance, hardship, tragedy, and deception.

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
Anyone over the age of eighteen who has a penchant for period novels, from the Prohibition Era and the Great Depression to WWII and beyond.

Complete this sentence for us: If you like___________, you’ll love The Family Angel by Loretta Giacoletto.
The Godfather by Mario Puzo. Can’t forget HBO’s Boardwalk Empire—same era with The Family Angel’s nod to Al Capone and Johnny Torrio.

Who is the Black Angel?
The Black Angel is a chameleon-like spirit that only shows up to a select few who are struggling between life and death or right and wrong. L’Angelo Nero, main character Carlo Baggio calls this no-nonsense messenger who forces his ambivalent charges to make their own choices. We should all be so lucky to have our own Black Angel.

Prohibition era Chicago is such an interesting place to read about. Is it that much fun to write about it too? And how much research did you have to do to ensure that the story remains historically accurate for the period it covers?
I love writing about this era, a period in which my parents often talked about life in Prohibition Chicago, although they were only there as observers to the illegal element and not as participants. My husband’s family, on the other hand, was involved in bootleg winemaking, which plays a prominent role in the Southern Illinois and Great Depression portion of this novel.

I did a ton of research for every phase of The Family Angel—sixty years worth of fashion, attitudes, morality, prostitution, cost of living, gangsters, immigrants, architecture, entertainment, winemaking, Catholicism, seminarians, WWII’s Normandy Invasion, and politics inside the Vatican. On-site research included the History Museum in Chicago while staying there in a turn-of-the-century Bed and Breakfast plus a tour of a coal-mine-turned-museum in Southern Illinois. Mustn’t forget Italy—I’ve walked through the Northern villages I wrote about, plus the streets of Rome and its eerie Church of the Bones, and of course Vatican City. Closer to home and to my heart, I’ve listened to the stories of winemakers and coal miners and soldiers who survived WWII.

Researching and writing The Family Angel was more fun than any writer deserves to have! So, I followed up with another Italian/American novel, Family Deceptions , and later a prequel/partial parallel to The Family Angel entitled Chicago’s Headmistress that stands on its own, or can be read before or after Angel.

With this novel and Chicago’s Headmistress, are you done with these characters and this era now, or is there more to come?
I have another novel or three tooling around in my head—perhaps a sequel to The Family Angel featuring Father Frank Baggio and his nemesis Father Milo Frederico. Chicago’s Headmistress—definitely, too many issues left unresolved so I must finish what I started. Who knows, I may write a sequel to Family Deceptions and have some of those characters meet up with characters from the other sagas.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I divide my time between the St. Louis Metropolitan area and Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks where I write fiction, essays, and my blog Loretta on Life while my husband Dominic cruises the waters for bass and crappie. Our five offspring have escaped the nest but come home when they get hungry for authentic Italian. I’ve visited numerous countries in Europe and Asia but Italy remains my favourite, especially the area from where my family originates: the Piedmont region near the Italian Alps.

I’ve been writing for fifteen years and have had five novels published, including those three already mentioned sagas and two contemporary works, Lethal Play and Free Danner, plus a collection of short stories, Givers and Takers. My short fiction has been published in a number of print and on-line magazines such as Literary Mama, which nominated my story “Tom” for Dzanc’s 2010 Best of The Web.

As an associate editor for Allegory E-zine, I read hundreds of submissions every year and make recommendations for publication. I’m also a long-time member of Backspace Writers.

Have you got a website? And how can we follow you on Facebook and/or Twitter?

This is the link to my website:

I hang out daily on Facebook.

And sometimes on Twitter: @LGiacoletto.

Where can we buy The Family Angel?

The ebook and print versions are available on Amazon ( US, UK).

EBook versions are also available at Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords and its retail outlets.

What’s next?
I have two projects scheduled for completion in 2013. Italy to Die For is a contemporary mystery about too much togetherness spelling disaster for a couple of thirty-something sisters vacationing in Italy. The other is my first publication of creative -fiction: A Little Garlic between Friends, a compilation of two years of my blogs related to food, travel, friends, and writing.
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