Book Giveaway: THE MEMORY OF US, by Camille di Maio

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We have a special guest in the house today: author Camille di Maio, a Catholic homeschooling mom, Realtor, and author from San Antonio, TX. Camille is here to introduce us to her debut novel, THE MEMORY OF US, the story of a Protestant socialite from Liverpool and the Catholic seminarian she falls in love with. You can find more information about the book here, on its Goodreads page, along with my review.

Camille has graciously agreed to answer some questions about her book. If you have more questions, leave them in the combox and she’ll answer them. And—bonus!—she will offer one lucky commenter a copy of THE MEMORY OF US. So ask away! And I will “ask away” for you…

Camille, what made you choose this particular time and place to set the novel?

Camille Di MaioMy original inspiration happened as I was listening to my iPod while driving our four kids around on errands. The song “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles came on, which I have always loved. But, it struck me differently this time. I thought about this lonely woman and this lonely priest and what might have happened in their lives to bring them to the final verse in the song. I was intrigued by setting it in Liverpool, in homage to the roots of the Fab Four, and I’ve always been fascinated by the drama of the war years. So, Britain in WWII was a great fit for the story ideas that were swirling around in my head. The book, however, is not “about” the song. The characters have different names. But fans of the song will certainly see its influences.

You’re a home-schooling, NFP-practicing, Catholic mother of four. How does that shape the stories you tell and the themes you explore?

While I don’t believe that you have to “write what you know”, I do believe that there is an authenticity that comes with telling a story that has some traces of your own experience in it. I am not “me” without Catholicism. For my first foray in to writing a novel, it was only natural to weave elements of that in to the manuscript. And, since a priest is one of the primary characters, that made it an easy choice.

Despite its subject matter, you don’t consider this book Catholic fiction, but mainstream fiction that happens to center on Catholic topics. Is there a reason you chose to go that route, rather than write directly to a Catholic audience?

I love reading about other cultures. Catholicism is a culture, and I wanted to represent it in a unique way to a wide audience. In secular entertainment, the references are almost always derogatory, misrepresented (even with good intentions), or hopelessly sappy. In fact, we have a robust, rich, complex faith that goes back two thousand years. There is much to draw from that is magnificent. But, it doesn’t get much of a voice in modern literature. So, I do consider the target audience for this to be mainstream fiction readers, while it draws references and embraces situations that are inherently Catholic. Advent, Last Rites, Mass, lighting candles, fasting, etc. However, I would definitely not call it a “Catholic” book, because in no way is it preachy or trying to convince anyone of anything. It simply has a main character who is a Catholic priest, and it is reasonable to build the world of his story around that.

But, in deference to my faith, there is absolutely nothing in the book that would be uncomfortable for a Catholic to read. Yes, there are brief romantic scenes between two of the characters, but none are inappropriate or graphic. My threshold is, if my priest/confessor can’t read it, I won’t write it. I believe literature can be compelling but clean. Catholics should have no issue with reading it. But, secular readers (hopefully) will also be very intrigued by the story and by a view of a culture that they, perhaps, know little about.

Although you don’t beat us over the head with it in the book, the themes of vocation and discernment come through clearly. What do you hope readers will take away from it?

The two primary vocations in our faith – priesthood and marriage – are definitely explored in the book. I consider them to be on equal footing, each modeling a different aspect of the image and likeness of God. We can’t have one without the other. Both involve dedication and calling, and each requires taking a lifelong vow. I hope that readers will walk away with a profound respect for both states of life. Additionally, I hope that readers will see how seriously I take the concepts of discernment and purpose. We are each created for a specific reason, despite what many outside influences may want from us – good or bad. Kyle and Julianne are both the subjects of other people making choices for them. But, ultimately, they must each discover what it is that they were created for.

Can you give us a tease for your next project?

My publisher just gave me a contract for my next book, BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS, which will be out in spring 2017. While the religious tones are not quite as evident as they are in THE MEMORY OF US, it is set in south Texas, which certainly has Catholic influences. If the theme of the first could be said to be “vocation”, you might say that “sacrifice” is the theme of the next one. We’re not far enough along to have written a full blurb yet, but this might give you an idea: Two sisters. One death. A mysterious portrait. And a town with a desperate need to find hope. It is written in chapters alternating between the 1940s and present day, as a washed-up journalist and a young doctor cross paths while trying to discover the truth behind what happened so many decades ago. And how that revelation can save the people in the border town in which they meet.

Thanks for joining us today, Camille.

Readers, be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway! (Please comment here, not on Facebook, so that I have your email address and can contact you if you win!) We’ll do the drawing on May 17th.

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36 thoughts on “Book Giveaway: THE MEMORY OF US, by Camille di Maio

  1. Mary Ann Coatney

    Being semi-retired has blessed me with the opportunity to catch up on reading I’ve put off for several years. THE MEMORY OF US sounds like it has the making of a favorite for me. As a cradle Catholic at age 63 I have vivid memories of discussions with our parents and grandparents who lived through WW II. My family’s roots are in Italy and we had uncles who served in the army and navy during that time as well as the Korean War. Thank you, Camille, for your soon to be released novel.

    • Thank you for your interest, Mary Ann! Please consider sharing it with anyone you think might like to read it. I’d love to see more clean literature out there, as well as books that put our faith in a positive light. I’d love to hear back from you after you’ve finished it!

  2. Cindy Joyce

    I have been following the progress of THE MEMORY OF US on Facebook. I am now even more intrigued by the characters, setting, and theme. The book trailer was engaging and enticing. Your effort to produce a work that is “compelling but clean” is much appreciated!

  3. jillhannahanderson

    First of all, I’m wondering how in the world you do it all, Camille! (Okay, I wonder the same thing about you, Kathleen!) This book is one I’ve been looking forward to reading for a while, ever since I saw the great cover. As a 12 years of Catholic school girl (and 8 years of playing the organ at church and living next door to the convent)… well, I’m looking forward to reading how the Catholic religion plays into this book. Congrats to you!

  4. Juan Solis

    Thank You, thank you Camille deMaio for your first of many novels. This one really will touch my heart strings because I am Catholic and grew up with the Beatles. How is it that you love all things British? Perhaps it’s your past life or maybe your parent’s travels inspired you to love the Queen’s language. May you have great success Camille!

  5. Diana Kay Hartmann

    Both of these books sound intriguing! 😊 I love the glimpse of real life struggles with Catholic elements! I also love “clean romance”! ☺ Thanks for sharing your gifts!

  6. Elyse Becker

    “In secular entertainment, the references [to Catholicism] are almost always derogatory, misrepresented (even with good intentions), or hopelessly sappy.”

    Amen! In general, fictional men of God are depicted as hypocritical if not downright villainous. I grew up in Protestant churches, but my experience with ministers was always very positive. Which is why I wanted my own protagonist to be man of God who is also a truly good man. He’s not perfect by any means, but he is sincere and compassionate.

    • I understand – it was a fine line to not call it “Christian fiction” because the priest is portrayed in a positive light. Thankfully, my publisher was really supportive of everything I did with it!

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