Mary Donnarumma Sharnick has been writing ever since the day she printed her long name on her first library card. A native of Connecticut, she graduated magna cum laude from Fairfield University with a degree in English and earned a master’s degree with distinction from Trinity College, Hartford. She has been awarded a scholarship from Wesleyan Writers’ Conference (2008), two Nigel Taplin Innovative Teaching grants (2008, 2011), and a fellowship from the Hartford Council for the Arts Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation (2010). A student of novelists Rachel Basch and Louis Bayard, Mary has participated in the 2014 Yale Writers’ Conference historical fiction workshop and has presented at Auburn University’s Writers’ Conference (2012), the Association for Writers and Writing Programs conference in Boston (2013), the Italian American Historical Association’s conference in Toronto (2014), and annually at Mark Twain Writers’ Conference in Hartford, as well as at the University of Connecticut’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Waterbury, CT (2015-2017). Her research has taken her to Venice, Italy, the Deep South, and monastic communities in Italy, Vermont, and Connecticut.
Mary’s first two novels, Thirst (Fireship Press, 2012) and Plagued (Fireship Press, 2014), are set in the Venetian lagoon during the seventeenth and fifteenth centuries, respectively. Thirst is being adapted for the operatic stage by composer Gerard Chiusano and librettists Mary Chiusano and Robert Cutrofello. The opera, tentatively entitled The Thirst of Venezia, is Maestro Chiusano’s thesis for his doctorate at Rutgers University, in New Jersey.
Orla’s Canvas, released in 2015, is Mary’s first book with Penmore Press. The novel is a first-person coming-of-age tale about a young artist set against the backdrop of Civil Rights-era New Orleans. The novel took First Place for fiction in the 2016 Connecticut Press Club’s annual contest and Third Place in 2016 NFPW (National Federation of Press Women) competition. In addition, it was recently named a Finalist in the 2017 Kindle Awards. On December 20, 2020, Orla’s Canvas was released as an audiobook on Audible.
Available at barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com, Painting Mercy, Mary’s second book in an anticipated quartet, released by Penmore Press in 2018, took first place in the Connecticut Press Club’s annual contest and second place in the 2019 NFPW (National Federation of Press Women) competition. In this novel, Orla, now aged twenty-four, continues as narrator just after Saigon has fallen and over two thousand Vietnamese refugees have relocated to New Orleans. Mary is presently drafting the third and fourth novels in the series, The Contessa’s Easel and En Plein Air.
Mary has reviewed books for the New York Journal of Books, Southern Humanities Review, America, and other journals. Excerpts of her memoir-in-progress have appeared in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias, Italian Americana, and Healing Ministry, among others. Her short story, “The Rule,” appeared in Voices in Italian Americana.
With her husband, Wayne Sharnick, Mary leads her writing students and family and friend groups on slow travel tours of Italy, the country she considers her second home.
At present, Mary is also advising three adult writers online and teaching hybrid classes of sophomore and junior writers enrolled at Sacred Heart High School, Waterbury, Connecticut.