The first book Mary read was her father’s copy of The Lives of the Saints. A short while later, she graduated to Nancy Drew mysteries and the Encyclopedia Britannica. She penned her first short story in high school and had a few poems published in her college literary magazine. She truly hopes these artifacts are never excavated. Mary’s official writing career started with the publication of "On Being Italian American: An Introspection" in the Summer/Fall 1990 issue of Sinister Wisdom. Her first novel, No Matter What, followed in 1993. Finding Grace was published in 1999 and won the 1999 Colorado Authors’ League “Top Hand” Award in the Adult Mainstream/Literary Fiction category. Her memoir,Voices of the Soft-bellied Warrior came out in 2001. Her third novel, The Singing of Swans, was published by Pearlsong Press in 2006. It was a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards finalist in the Spirituality category. Her newest novel, Heretics: A Love Story, hits bookstores in June 2014.
Mary's short stories, creative nonfiction/memoir pieces and poetry have been published in a variety of literary and cultural journals, both in print and online. For more information:
Heretics: A Love Story
In the 1480s, Shardana and Sarda, twin sister healers in a remote village in the mountainous Barbagia region of Sardinia, encounter a heretic-obsessed Spanish priest. Antonio Albóndiga is sent to Sardinia after mishaps in his homeland, and is eventually banished to the village of Orune. Half of the villagers—including the healers—follow a pre-Christian religion, while the other half observe a makeshift version of Catholicism and paganism. Hate holds the priest hostage, and he scorns the healers' adherence to ancient ways. Despite his intentions to harm them, the twin sisters and the other villagers attempt not only to accept the stranger but to transform his hardened heart.
The Singing of Swans
The Singing of Swans takes protagonist Madelene Ross on a multi-century journey back and forth through time to reclaim her soul and her very contemporary American life. Along the way she encounters healers who fly through rooftops, herbalists who paint flaming images of Black Madonnas, an ancient priestess who helps rescue a Goddess statue from the clutches of an evil 70 BCE governor of Sicily, and an environmentally compromised lake in need of restoration. Elements of magical realism dovetail with historical lore as this compelling tale of redemption unfolds.
She Is Everywhere Volume 3
She Is Everywhere! Volume 3, co-edited by Mary Saracino and Mary Beth Moser, presents a bold, brave, and beautiful compilation of womanist/feminist essays, poems, and artwork showcasing work from an international community of women and men who honor the Sacred Female. The fifty scholars, creative writers, and visual artists in this anthology share their vision for a world that reclaims the inviolability of the Divine Female in all Her many and varied manifestations. She Is Everywhere! Volume 3 is the latest edition of a leading-edge series which, like its predecessors, offers an invaluable contribution to women's spirituality, religion, philosophy, and women's studies. The contemporary voices contained within its pages echo an ancient clarion call to embrace the values of sharing, caring, justice with compassion, equality for all people, and transformation.
No Matter What
This novel, a 1994 Minnesota Book Award fiction finalist, tells the story of family love and betrayal in the haunting voice of its ten-year-old narrator, Regina Giovanni. As the oldest daughter in her working class Catholic family, Regina is her mother’s confidante. However, as her mother’s extramarital affair with a Catholic priest begins to destroy her family, her mother’s secret soon becomes too much for Regina to bear. In praise of No Matter What, Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina, wrote: “Unflinching, insightful, beautifully written…”
The sequel to No Matter What, this novel focuses on the explosive aftermath of protagonist Regina Giovanni’s mother’s decision to leave her husband and two sons and run off with her three daughters and her lover, a Catholic priest. Finding Grace is an unforgettable story of love, loss, grief, betrayal, and finally hope, as a family struggles to redefine itself and heal after being torn apart. Finding Grace won the 1999 Colorado Authors’ League “Top Hand” Award in the category of Adult Mainstream/Literary Fiction.
Voices of the Soft-bellied Warrior
Shortly after Saracino’s first novel was published in 1993, she began to experience an inexplicable clenching of her vocal cords. Over a four-year period, she was increasingly unable to speak without great strain. In 1997 the mysterious problem was diagnosed as a rare voice disorder. This memoir is the compelling story of the author’s journey and her struggle to reclaim her voice on the physical, spiritual and emotional levels. It is ultimately a tale of epiphany, recovery and redemption. Praising the memoir, Louise DeSalvo wrote: “A stupendous achievement. Saracino speaks here as she has never spoken before; as no one has ever spoken before.”
Words of Praise for Mary's Work
HERETICS: A LOVE STORY
Thank you for writing this book! I see myself in its pages, as an herbalist, as a naturalist, as a tree lover, as a feminist as a ritual artist…I don’t know what motivated you to write this wonderful story, but as a person who has been engaged in Earth-based ritual for 30 years I am struck by the authenticity of this tale ... Folks that live so close to the Earth and her seasonal rounds do develop a different way of being in the world and your story embodies that way of being as “truth”….we don’t say the world is alive we live it… tuned into plants that communicate in a myriad of different ways… animals that enter our fields and respond to our thoughts of them… the closer to the Earth we choose to live the more efficiently she communicates with us… This is a stupendous book… Hope is harbored in our bodies and I loved seeing that in words because our tendency to split away from our bodies that are suffering not only our own traumas but that of the Earth’s… and until we get this we will be separated again and again from hope as a reality…l loved the way you created space for grief! Your characters are so real. I do not want to finish this book.
THE SINGING OF SWANS
“Women who fly through the night skies, priestesses who receive initiations, and girls who do vision quests in ancient sacred caves—all this wonderful pagan lore Mary Saracino juxtaposes against an all-too modern heroine’s chaotic awakening to the deeper purpose of her life. This well-researched page-turner is packed with herbal knowledge, her-story lessons, and a genuine understanding of ancient and contemporary women’s spirituality. Rich and powerful—I hope it will become a movie!”
Vicki Noble, co-creator of Motherpeace, author of Shakti Woman: Feeling Our Fire, Healing Our World & The Double Goddess: Women Sharing Power
“The Singing of Swans is a remarkable narrative calling—even compelling—us to connect with our own ancestral roots, to seek our own inner wisdom, and to reclaim our own inner voices!"
Margaret Starbird author of The Woman with the Alabaster Jar & Mary Magdalene: Bride in Exile
“The Singing of Swans is more than a novel. It combines an immense amount of learning, a great novelist’s ability to weave the present, the past, the far past, and the future into a spell-binding story...and to transmute all this into an offer of life to all of us trapped in contemporary deadening cultures. This novel may give you the courage to quit your dead-end job, book a flight to Italy, and, like Madalene, ‘exhilarated by the possibilities,’ how ‘at the brilliant blue Sicilian sky.’”
Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, author of The Future Has An Ancient Heart & Dark Mother: African Origins and Godmothers
SHE IS EVERYWHERE! VOLUME 3: An Anthology of Writings in Womanist/Feminist Spirituality
“Filled with essays, stories, poetry, and works of art, She Is Everywhere! is a huge cauldron filled with a nourishing stew of Goddess spirituality. No matter if you’ve been devoted to the Goddess for twenty years or you’re a newbie just meeting her, this is a book worth reading and savoring. But it’s not fast food! You need to carefully chew and savor what you’re reading and seeing. When you do, you’ll be nourished for a long time.”
Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), Secret Lives & Pagan Every Day.
“Reading the provocative and inspiring work of these fifty contributors expressed through cutting-edge essays, twenty-four poems, and two dozen photographs of art and sites related to the essays, I was transported between many worlds, cultures, and spiritual traditions which had at their center the honoring of the Sacred Feminine in her many and diverse manifestations.... I propose that this volume, an important addition to college courses in women’s spirituality, women’s and gender studies, philosophy, and religion, is also comari. As we, the readers, move within this laboratory, we are encouraged to bring forth from within our bodies, hearts and minds the values of justice with compassion, equality for all people and transformation that characterize the world/s where She is Everywhere.
Louise M. Paré, Ph.D.
NO MATTER WHAT
“Unflinching, insightful, beautifully written...”
Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
“In this strong first novel, Mary Saracino creates a strong narrator who quickly engages our sympathy. Saracino excels at creating the inner turmoil of the child with an adult burden and the powerful emotions at work in this dysfunctional family. The book is absorbing...”
Rocky Mountain News book review (Denver, CO)
“...a fine novel...”-
Minneapolis Star Tribune book review
“A timeless narrative so beautifully written it was hard to put down. Finding Grace left nothing to be desired, a gut wrenching story where things truly end for the best.”
Judge’s comments, 1999 Colorado Authors League “Top Hand” Award for Mainstream Fiction.
VOICES OF THE SOFT-BELLIED WARRIOR
“As much an intimate story about the art of writing as it is about her struggle to literally gain back her voice, Mary Saracino’s memoir is a brave and intricately drawn map of her long journey from trauma to recovery.” –J
Judith Katz, author of Running Fiercely Toward a High Thin Sound & The Escape Artist.
“This is the book that I’ve been waiting to read. This is the book that I will read and reread. This is the book that shows the pain. But this is the book that shows the possibility, too. A stupendous achievement. Saracino speaks here as she has never spoken before; as no one has ever spoken before.”
Louise DeSalvo, author of Vertigo & We Begin with Food: Italian American Women Write About Identity, Ethnicity, and Sustenance