Midnight in the Piazza–Interview and Giveaway

Tiffany Parks’s debut middle grade published in March. She stopped by for an interview.

Hi Tiffany! Can you tell us what made you become a writer? 

Although I have been passionate about writing all my life, I never imagined it as a career for myself until I started working on my first book. My first true passion was music, and I trained to become an opera singer. My love of opera took me to Rome, and Rome became my muse. With the art, history, and magic of Rome all around me, I became inspired to write fiction for the first time in my life. If I hadn’t moved to Rome, I’m not sure that I would have become a writer.

Where did you find the book’s inspiration? 

One of my favorite places in Rome is Piazza Mattei, where a small and exquisite fountain topped by four bronze turtles resides. When I heard a legend that the fountain was built in one night, it fired my imagination, and I knew one day I would write a story about it. A short time later, I met a 13-year-old American girl who lived in the same piazza, with a view of the fountain out her bedroom window, and MIDNIGHT IN THE PIAZZA slowly began to take form.

Can you describe your process? 

When I began this book, I had no idea where it was going. I only knew I wanted to write a middle grade novel about an American girl living in Rome with a view of the Turtle Fountain outside her bedroom window. I had no clue as to where the plot would take me. As I wrote, the characters emerged from the story as if they had existed all along, and slowly a mystery developed. Unfortunately, writing in such a way (especially being an inexperienced writer) meant that the plot was full of holes. I spent significantly longer revising than I spent writing the first draft, and I have learned my lesson and now plot out my stories in advance.

What are you working on now? 

My work in progress also takes place in Rome (of course), but this time it is set in 1599, instead of the present day. In the dark days of Counter Reformation Rome, Caravaggio’s bold new art—and the controversial techniques he uses to create it—are bringing him unwanted attention from the zealous priests of the Inquisition. Olimpia, the niece of Caravaggio’s patron and protector, and Nardo, the painter’s model and errand boy, discover there are even darker forces afoot, seeking to destroy Caravaggio and harness his gifts for their own nefarious purposes. Together, they vow to save the great painter, even if it means going up against the Vatican itself.

Thanks so much! And extra thanks for offering a giveaway.

To be eligible to win a copy of Tiffany’s novel, please enter a comment below.

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Tricia Springstubb
Tricia is the author of many books for middle grade, most recently "Every Single Second" (HarperCollins) and the third book in the Cody series, "Cody and the Rules of Life" (Candlewick Press). A frequent speaker at schools, libraries, and conferences, she lives in Cleveland OH. You can find out more about her and her work at www.triciaspringstubb.com
  1. Loved Midnight in the Piazza. With your knowledge of the art and history of Rome and your command of the Italian language, I am so looking forward to your new book themed around Caravaggio! It can’t help but be wonderful!

  2. Loved Midnight in the Piazza. With your knowledge of the art and history of Rome and your command of the Italian language, I am so looking forward to your new book themed around Caravaggio! It can’t help but be wonderful!

  3. Midnight in the Piazza is a great read!! Beatrice is a strong female character, and she trusts her instincts. I could hardly put the book down—such great writing! I could see it all like a movie in my mind. Bravo!

  4. I’m a panther, not a plotter, and I wish I could learn to behave myself. The new book sounds exceptionally interesting! I will be watching for it. Thanks for the interview.

  5. Ooo! This sounds like a fun mystery! I have read a few other books with Rome as the setting. I really would love to visit there someday. I am definitely going to add this to my TBR right now!

  6. Love, love, love it. I felt like I was in Rome!

  7. Wow, having a fountain outside your window must have been tremendous! I love a good mystery. I could see it developing even as you interviewed. Thanks for your post:)

  8. Rome–the greatest city in the world. Can’t wait to read this.

  9. I’ve already read Midnight in the Piazza twice! I love it! If I could, I would buy everyone I know a copy – not just the kids! This is the kind of book I absolutely LOVED when I was a young reader. It was like revisiting my childhood every time I ducked into this fabulous adventure.

  10. This sounds like a fabulous book! And so timely, since I was just in Rome a few days ago. Can’t wait to read it!

  11. Great idea by an American/Italian author, I am looking forward to reading it to my daughter.