Mary Donnarumma Sharnick has been writing ever since the day she printed her long name on her first library card. A native of Connecticut, she graduated from Fairfield University with a degree in English, and earned a master's degree in Renaissance studies from Trinity College, Hartford. Fascinated by la Serenissima and the islands of the Venetian lagoon since her first visit in 1969, Mary has returned to Venice numerous times. Her first novel, THIRST, set in seventeenth-century Venice, is being adapted for the operatic stage by composer Gerard Chiusano and librettists Mary Chiusano and Robert Cutrofello. Mary has signed with Fireship again for PLAGUED, the first novel in an anticipated series about the historical Michael Rhodes and his relationship with Venice during the fifteenth-century.
A recipient of The Beatrice Fox Auerbach Solo Writer's Fellowship, Mary was afforded the opportunity to conduct research in Venice during the summer of 2010. A scholarship from Wesleyan Writers' Conference (2008) and two Nigel Taplin Innovative Teaching Grants (2008, 2013) from Chase Collegiate School, where Mary teaches writing and chairs the English Department, have also supported her research. Mary has studied with novelist Rachel Basch at Wesleyan University and in private workshops, and will work with novelist Louis Bayard at Yale Writers' Conference, in New Haven, June, 2014. Mary's reviews have appeared in The New York Journal of Books, Southern Humanities Review, America, and other journals. Memoir excerpts have appeared in The American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias, America, Italian Americana, and Healing Ministry. Mary has taught at Mark Twain House's Writers' Weekend (2013, 2014), presented at the 41st annual convention of the American Italian Historical Association, at Auburn (AL) Writers' Conference (2012), at the University of Connecticut's Osher Center, Waterbury, CT, and at a variety of libraries, book shops, and schools. With her husband Wayne Sharnick, Mary leads her writing students on "slow travel" tours of Italy, the country she considers her second home.
Please visit Mary Donnarumma Sharnick's website for more information on the novel, to read current interviews, scheduled guest appearances, and to follow her blog.
Thirst, Sharnick's first book, is a novel of 17th century Venice. A suspicious drowning in the Lagoon and a deadly assault on a bridge shatter the dreams of Captain Lorenzo Contarini and his fiancée, la Signorina Caterina Zanchi,members of two noble Venetian families. While Caterina’s severe injuries banish her froms ociety, her parents remove their other daughter, Leonora, from the convent to become Lorenzo’s hasty wife. Lorenzo’s investigation into his half-sister’s death compels him to accuse his maternal aunt, the Abbess of San Zaccaria, of murder. The ruthless Abbess deflects attention from herself by demonizing Leonora’s fellow nun and lover, Suor Serafina, as well as members of her own family. She is ably assisted by the feared and implacable Office of the Inquisition. The subsequent public trial brings together all of Venice and tests familial,religious, sexual, and political alliances. Old secrets are revealed to an avid crowd seeking cruel entertainment, forcing all present to wonder if it is possible to discover the entire truth. At once comforted by the ceaseless lap and sway of the enclosed Lagoon and threatened by the efficient cruelty of the Republic, those whose tale this is live and breathe in an ever-shifting world of bigotry and prejudice. Venice is never still.
Plagued: Since its initial strike in 1347, the plague has been continuously decimating populations across the known world. By 1401, the Venetian fleet has lost so many men that the doge has resorted to recruiting foreigners to take up the republic's oars. Enter Michael, a sixteen-year-old boy from a small fishing village on the Isle of Rhodes. Seeking adventure and escape from a dreary existence, Michael dreams of a larger life, perhaps even a heroic one. Little does he suspect that, despite the idyllic myth of Venice that the Republic perpetuates, a concerted, systematic attack on innocence as gruesome as the plague itself will obliterate his juvenile misconceptions and initiate him into a grown-up world where his physical strength, his religious faith, and his very soul are tested.