As is often the case with my novels, I have more than one inspiration for writing them. For Stella Mia, I knew I wanted to set most of the book in Sicily. I also wanted to capture some of the mysticism that represents Sicily. I thought it would be interesting to have a character who sang Sicilian folk songs and who also read people’s fortunes. So that was one inspiration. My other inspiration was my father's grapevine. I had told my editor about the grapevine my father had planted when he and my mother bought my childhood home in Astoria, Queens, New York. In my family, we were all very proud of the grapevine my father had planted in our small concrete backyard. Some people thought the grapevine would never grow, but it did and it made our tiny city backyard look so beautiful. The year that my father had cancer, the grapevine inexplicably didn't grow as lush as it had the previous years. And after my father died, the grapevine all but died as well. Of course, my family and I couldn’t help seeing the irony, especially since my father had planted the grapevine and loved it so much. About fifteen or so years later, sometime after my mother had sold the house, I was visiting our old next-door neighbor and was talking to her in her yard, which faced the yard of my childhood home. I was surprised to see that my father's grapevine was growing again. My mother had tried to replant the grapevine with an offshoot of a grapevine she had received from a friend. But we never got to see if the grapevine would take hold and grow to the lush vine my father's had been since my mother sold the house. Needless to say, I was very moved when I saw the grapevine had grown back and was on its way to looking as beautiful as the one my father had planted. In high school, I had written a college application essay that centered on my father's grapevine, and I always knew that someday I wanted to work it into a novel. So when my editor heard the story of my father's grapevine he, too, felt I should try and work it into my next novel.