A Few Questions to get to know Diana Rubino:
-What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer?
When I started writing historicals, my greatest influences were Beatrice
Small, (her book BLAZE WYNDHAM inspired me to write my first historical),
Sharon Kay Penman, and Philippa Gregory. Every book of theirs I read inspired
me to become the best historical novelist I could be.
-What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story
and how do you feel it impacted the novel?
My great-grandmother, known as Josie Red because of her head of thick
red hair, was a successful businesswoman—she owned apartment buildings, a
parking garage, did small-time bootlegging during Prohibition, and served as a
Committeewoman in Jersey City. I based Vita on her.
-Tell us a bit about your publisher: how did you hear about them and
what influenced your decision to submit to them?
I’d read many books by The Wild Rose Press before I submitted to them.
My first book with them wasn’t a historical—it’s an urban fantasy, FAKIN’ IT.
They published most of my later historicals, and I’ve been very happy with
-What book[s] currently rest on your TBR pile?
I am about to start YOUNG LINCOLN OF NEW SALEM by Sam Rowlins. I’ve been
a huge Lincoln buff since childhood, and Sam posted about it on my Chat &
Promote page on Facebook. I bought it immediately. I have about 100 other books
on TBR pile, that would take up much too much space!
-Lastly, what's up next and when can we expect to see it on the shelves?
I’m finishing the first draft of MUCH HAS BEEN GIVEN US, about Edith
Roosevelt and her husband, Theodore. I haven’t sent it to my agent yet, but I
hope it will be released later this year.
How FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET Was Born:
New York City’s history always fascinated me—how it
became the most powerful hub in the world from a sprawling wilderness in
exchange for $24 with Native Americans by the Dutch in 1626.
Growing up in Jersey City, I could see the Statue of
Liberty from our living room window if I leaned way over (luckily I didn’t lean
too far over). As a child model, I spent many an afternoon on job interviews
and modeling assignments in the city, and got hooked on Nedick’s, a fast food
chain whose orange drinks were every kid’s dream. Even better than the vanilla
egg creams. We never drove to the city—we either took the PATH (Port Authority
Trans Hudson) train (‘the tube’ in those days) or the bus through the Lincoln
Tunnel to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
My great grandmother, Josephine Arnone, “Josie Red” to
her friends, because of her abundant head of red hair, was way ahead of her
time. Born in 1895 (but it could’ve been sooner, as she was known to lie about
her age), she left grade school, became a successful businesswoman and a Jersey
City committee woman, as well as a wife and mother of four. She owned apartment
buildings, parking garages, a summer home, did a bit of Prohibition-era bootlegging,
small-time loan-sharking, and paid cash for everything. When I began outlining
From Here to Fourteenth Street, I modeled my heroine, Vita Caputo, after her.
Although the story is set in New York the year before Grandma was born, I was
able to bring Vita to life by calling on the family legends and stories, all
word of mouth, for she never kept a journal.
Vita’s hero Tom McGlory isn’t based on any real
person, but I did a lot of reading about Metropolitan Policemen and made sure
he was the complete opposite! He’s trustworthy and would never take a bribe or
graft. I always liked the name McGlory—then, years after the book first came
out, I remembered that was the name of my first car mechanic—Ronnie McGlory.
Blurb from FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET and how Vita Found Love and Success Against All
It's 1894 on New York's
Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall
in love despite their different upbringings. Vita goes from sweatshop laborer
to respected bank clerk to reformer, helping elect a mayor to beat the Tammany
machine. While Tom works undercover to help Ted Roosevelt purge police
corruption, Vita's father arranges a marriage between her and a man she
despises. As Vita and Tom work together against time and prejudice to clear her
brother and father of a murder they didn't commit, they know their love can
survive poverty, hatred, and corruption. Vita is based on my great
grandmother, Josephine Calabrese, “Josie Red” who left grade school to become a
self-made businesswoman and politician, wife and mother.
As Vita gathered her soap and towel, Madame Branchard
tapped on her door. "You have a gentleman caller, Vita. A policeman."
“Tom?" His name lingered on her lips as she
repeated it. She dropped her things and crossed the room.
"No, hon, not him. Another policeman. Theodore
something, I think he said."
No. There can't be anything wrong. "Thanks," she whispered,
nudging Madame Branchard aside. She descended the steps, gripping the
banister to support her wobbly legs. Stay
calm! she warned herself. But of course it was no use; staying calm just
wasn't her nature.
“Theodore something” stood before the closed parlor
door. He’s a policeman? Tall and
hefty, a bold pink shirt peeking out of a buttoned waistcoat and fitted jacket,
he looked way out of place against the dainty patterned wallpaper.
He removed his hat. "Miss Caputo." He
strained to keep his voice soft as he held out a piece of paper. “I’m police commissioner
"I have a summons for you, Miss Caputo." He
held it out to her. But she stood rooted to that spot.
He stepped closer and she took it from him, unfolding
it with icy fingers. Why would she be served with a summons? Was someone
arresting her now for something she didn't do?
A shot of anger tore through her at this system, at
everything she wanted to change. She flipped it open and saw the word
"Summons" in fancy script at the top. Her eyes widened with each
sentence as she read. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”
I hereby order Miss Vita Caputo to enter into holy
matrimony with Mr. Thomas McGlory immediately following service of this