A strange thing happened to me today.

Thanks to a big BookBub New Year’s Eve promotion, I find myself on Amazon’s Top 100 List of bestselling Authors in – surprise! -- Historical Romance. Number 24, to be exact.

It’s a bit disconcerting. I view “The Witch of Napoli” as Historical Fiction. Sure, it features a love story, but I don’t pretend to understand women. They remain a mystery to me, even after 40 years of marriage.

Curious, I clicked on the “Amazon Author Rank” link, started scrolling, and found myself at a posh cocktail party filled with literary mega-stars like Danielle Steel and Diana Gabaldon, romance writers even clueless male authors like me immediately recognize. Feeling a bit embarrassed, I searched for other men at the soiree. I clicked through 1-10, then 11-20, then 21-30, then 31-40 before finally finding another male – Irish-born Eoin Dempsey, a Lehman Bros. crash survivor turned Philly teacher. Clicking on, I picked up two more Continentals writing romance: Robert Thier is a satirical German historian and lover of old books; Tweedy English author Winston Graham, OBE, is dead, but his Poldark novels set in 18th century Cornwall, England, continue to posthumously sell well.

So here we are, as New Year’s Day 2017 dawns. A quartet of thorns among 96 roses in the Amazon hothouse of Historical Romance.

If there’s any accuracy in my portrayal of my heroine Alessandra, it comes from a painful youthful encounter I’ll confess to here.

Tomaso, the narrator is me when I was just starting my own journalism career. He’s cocky, curious; handy with a camera and pen; determined to see the world.

In the novel, he falls head-over-heels for an older woman, just like I did when I was a teenager. The Alessandra in my life was a dark-haired divorcee – the mother of one of my high school classmates. I was seventeen and she was thirty-eight. She was sophisticated and funny and sexy in a way only mature, experienced women can be. Italians say when you fall in love with someone at first sight, you’re struck by a colpo di fulmine – a lightning bolt. I can tell you it’s true. She lived down on Long Island Sound, in a grey shingle house on the ocean, and I concocted a stream of ridiculous excuses (embarrassingly transparent to her, I’m sure) to drop by and see her every week that summer. I thought I had a chance; in truth, I was out of my league. I really knew nothing about women. What I remember most was how kind she treated me until I finally figured that out for myself. But no experience is ever lost on a writer. What I learned that summer ended up in my novel.

Alessandra understood Tomaso’s puppy love, and treated him kindly. But in the end, he doesn’t get her. Only Lombardi had a shot.

I like to think I got that right.
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Published on January 01, 2017 22:44 • 167 views • Tags: danielle-steel, diana-gabaldon, historical-romance, michael-schmicker, romance, romance-writers, witch-of-napoli
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message 1: by Philip (new)

Philip Bailey Congrats - I thought "The Witch of Napoli" was tremendous reading enjoyment. You and I have exchanged notes before. I agree with you, coming up on my 48th with my wife. Love her dearly, makes my life worth living, but haven't figured her out yet. Best to you.

message 2: by Michael (last edited Jan 06, 2017 09:46AM) (new)

Michael Schmicker Aloha Philip: Thanks for the kind comment, and yes I remember our earlier note exchange. Good to hear from you again. I'm impressed with your 48 years of marriage. You've got us beat hands down! Noticed the novel '1906' on your favorites shelf. I'll make sure to mention this to the author, James Dalessandro. He and I are working on a treatment to turn the Witch into a mini-TV series. Wonderful guy -- 68 years old, veteran Hollywood screenwriter, but not pretentious at all, just a very funny and grounded person. You'd enjoy him. Cheers,

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