|Over the past few weeks, I have leaped wholeheartedly back into the process of creating. In light of the disastrous events of last year, the pandemic, riots, I found that a warm cup of coffee and an empty notebook inspired just the right mindset for ideas to take shape.
Bloggers from the past book tour, Viviana MacKade requested an essay, “How did the author come across old Italian novellas?”
Hopefully, it will entertain you.
K. Nilsson Guest post for Viviana MacKade: “How did the author come across old Italian novellas?”Nancy Drew mysteries, American comics, and Italian fotoromanzi sparked my interest in writing. The Italian fumetti, introduced in the late 1940s, fed the gaping hole of escapism post-war. The comics which included romance, crime, pulp fiction, were written with tons of melodrama, endless plot twists, and trite happy endings.
When I turned sixteen, I accompanied my mother, Francesca, to Italy where I would meet my aunts and cousins.My mother grew up in the late 1950s in a nation still devastated by war. Her parents, six siblings, and grandmother slept in a one-room home. Flooring on the rafters provided additional sleeping space. Food was scarce, and people got sick from malnutrition.
When the Allies invaded, they brought food and medical supplies. American soldiers charged with Italy’s recovery, mingled with villagers. They answered questions about America, cars, supermarkets, and schools. They stoked the villagers’ hope for a better future.
But for single Italian women, their hope for the future was marriage. The war slapped them in the face, because most of the men drafted to fight for Mussolini died, disappeared, or went AWOL.
The soldiers’ discards were prized. Some items were used as currency. Among the spoils were dog-eared copies of the fotonovelas which drew enthusiastic fans.
A magazine made its way into the sisters’ hands. Though the siblings couldn’t read, they deciphered the stories spending hours discussing the plotlines that included mistaken identities, illegitimate children, murder motivated by jealousy, and forbidden love.
One hot, dry afternoon, we visited her sister, Sofia. We sipped iced expresso in her rustic courtyard. The laundry drying on the line kept us shaded.I listened to their recollections while watching a toddler chasing after a soccer ball.
The topic turned to fumetti, the romance serials. My aunt lifted the toddler’s sleeping pallet and retrieved a tattered comic.The illustrations were pornographic and had bubble clouds of dialogue. My mother wasn’t a prude, nor ashamed to be looking at them. It was a nostalgic moment for her. The magazines had stoked their imaginations and dreams of romance. My aunt gifted me with the booklet. That’s how I learned to read Italian.
When I returned home, I showed my friends the magazine, translating the dialogue for them. My mother, hearing laments that I had only one comic, asked her friends if I could have their magazines when they finished reading them. When I moved away from home, I left them in a box at her house.The next time I saw the novellas, mom had passed away. Going through boxes in her attic, hoping to find something she saved for me, I found an old suitcase that held her trousseau. At the bottom, under layers of white tissue, were tattered remains of a vintage magazine. I recognized the black and white images. They were the rite of passage shared by my mother and her sisters, the serials that sparked my addiction to romance stories.
As normal, I’m including my monthly input on movies, books, and a recipe.
What I’m streaming
NETFLIX Spycraft, Manorca, The Butler, Resistance
AMAZON PRIME, Final season of Vikings, Madmen, The Nun
BOOKS, Machiavellian by Bella di Corte, The Villain by Victoria Vale, If you tell by Gregg Olsen
Consider this your personal invitation to dive deep with me into a year that is brimming with promise and potential, perhaps an adventure, even if it’s in the realm of your favorite romances. Something beautiful is awaiting you the rest of this year.
- *2 cups crushed pretzels, plus more whole pretzels, for topping
- *2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- *3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted.
- *1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- *1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- *1/2 cup peanut butter, plus 3 tablespoons more, melted, for drizzling
- *1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed, divided
- *3 cups cold milk
- *2 (4 ounce) packages instant chocolate pudding mix
- *1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, to top
- *1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, to top
- In a large bowl, combine the pretzels, granulated sugar, and butter. Evenly press the mixture into an ungreased 13×9′′ baking dish. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, then let cool for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a separate large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Fold in half of the whipped topping until well-combined, and gently spread it over the pretzel crust.
- In a large bowl, combine the cold milk and pudding mixes, and whisk until no large clumps remain, about 3 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken. Gently spread the pudding over the peanut butter layer. Top the pudding layer with the remaining whipped topping.
- Press whole pretzels into the top of the whipped topping. Microwave a
few tablespoons of additional peanut butter and drizzle over top.
Sprinkle with chocolate chips and peanuts, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.