Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An Interview with Marissa Moss, Author of Home Sweet Rome

I'm so excited to be part of the Mira's Diary: Home Sweet Rome blog tour! Today I'm delighted to share an interview I did with Marissa Moss, whose latest middle grade novel, Mira's Diary: Home Sweet Rome was recently published by Sourcebooks.

Here's a bit about the book:

Mira was prepared to travel the world to find her mother—but she never expected that she’d have to travel through time as well. When Mira’s search transports her to 16th century Rome, she befriends the famed painter Caravaggio and falls into his group of scientists and fellow artists. But Mira quickly realizes this is no place for forward thinkers and is soon faced with protecting her new friends from the evil Madame Lefoutre. Mira’s outmatched 5,000 miles (and 500 years) from home, but she’ll have to succeed if she ever hopes to be reunited with her mother.
Marissa Moss has published over 50 children’s books and her illustrated Amelia series sold more than 2 million copies. Although she hopes to visit all the wonders of the world, right now she lives in the San Francisco Bay area where she can appreciate the Golden Gate Bridge from her window. Visit her at
And now for the interview:

Share a little about how you ended up as a writer.

I sent my first books to publishers when I was 9, but it wasn't very good and, of course, it didn't get published. I didn't try again until I was a grown-up, but I kept on telling myself stories and drawing pictures to go with them. The first Amelia's Notebook was based on my journals, in fact.
How did the idea for your story emerge?
I knew I wanted to write about Caravaggio because he's such an intriguing character and I love his paintings. Once I was in that time period, the Inquisition, papal politics, a burning at the stake or two, were all bound to come up.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
It's always hard to balance complicated information with strong plots that will draw in readers. When you're dealing with another century, it's harder still. I wanted Rome, both in the present and in the past, to be vivid, to come alive for the reader. The city felt to me like another character and I hope I brought her to life!
Each book I write teaches me something about the world, myself or the process of writing. What did you learn through writing your book?
I learned a tremendous amount researching the period, about Galileo, Bruno, 17th century Rome, Caravaggio. I'm not sure what I learned about writing, but I learned a lot about taking risks, staying true to one's vision, fighting for one's beliefs. And that period felt like a time when science, philosophy, literature, art were all fluid, all part of the same kind of thinking, not separate like they are today. No wonder somebody like Leonardo da Vinci could thrive then.
Wow! One of the great things about writing is that it lets you explore things that catch your interest. Because I love reading as much as I love to write, I’m always curious about what other people like to read. Do you have any favourite books?
I read widely and I'd have to say the most interesting thing I've read lately is an adult book (usually, I'd say middle-grade or YA, there's so much great stuff). But I loved Gone Girl for the way you start out liking one narrator and hating the other, then you hate the narrator you liked and like the narrator you hated, and the ending is a complete surprise. Talk about mastery of character and plot!
Definitely something I'm still working on. I'll have to check that book out. Is there anything else you’d like to share about your book or an upcoming project?
I'm working on the third Mira's Diary right now. I'm at that terrifying point when I'm not sure if I have a book or simply a pile of pages. We'll see. . .
Thanks, Marissa, for dropping by the blog and talking about your writing process. I love learning about how stories develop!


  1. Cool interview! And the books sound like a ton of fun! Thanks for posting this.

  2. Hi Andrea, cool interview with Marissa. I like the sound of her books. Will have to check them on Amazon.

  3. Nice interview! THis is the second time today that I've seen this book! I'll have to get it.

  4. Oh I know that pile of pages feeling! good luck, sounds GREAT!


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