I'm excited to learn more about her! Take it away, Vita...
Sassano, Italy, originally, now living in Manhattan.
Tell us why your story is called FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET.
Since we came to New York from Italy, I knew I would live above Fourteenth Street someday. It was nearly impossible at times, but I made it.
What did you think the first time you saw your hero Tom McGlory?
I thought “I am in big trouble” because he nabbed me on the street. I’d tried to stop a pickpocketer from robbing a man, and Tom, a beat cop, thought I was doing the pickpocketing.
What was your second thought?
As I trembled, my second thought was that he had the sharpest green eyes I’d ever seen.
Did you feel it was love at first sight?
Not at all—it was hostility and fear at first sight.
What do you like most about him?
His refusal to let the danger of police work stop him, and his aspirations to become Chief of Police.
How would you describe Tom?
Honest, sincere, dedicated to me and to the police force.
How would he describe you?
An ambitious hard worker who wants the best for this city. He knows I want to be a Senator or Congresswoman, but I’m happy enough as a committeewoman for now.
What made you choose politics as a career?
I want to make a difference in the city that adopted me and gave me a new life and the opportunity to achieve success. I also want to lead my fellow citizens to a better life through my efforts to clean up the corrupt city government and make sure the poor have a better life than they do now.
What is your biggest fear?
Flying—I will never set foot in an airplane.
How do you relax?
By listening to opera records and attempting to sing the female parts. My favorites are Madama Butterfly by Puccini and The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart.
Who is your favorite fictional character?
Anna Karenina—the bravest woman in literature.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be realistic and don’t be shattered if you don’t become president.
My goodness, Vita. You are an amazing person. I'm so glad there are people like you who care so much about others. Tom sounds like a wonderful man! (And I certainly understand your fear of flying!)
EXCERPT: FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET by Diana Rubino
As Vita gathered her soap and towel, Madame Branchard tapped on her door. "You have a gentleman caller, Vita. A policeman."
“Tom?" His name lingered on her lips as she repeated it. She dropped her things and crossed the room.
“No, hon, not him. Another policeman. Theodore something, I think he said.”
No. There can't be anything wrong. “Thanks,” she whispered, nudging Madame Branchard aside. She descended the steps, gripping the banister to support her wobbly legs. Stay calm! she warned herself. But of course it was no use; staying calm just wasn't her nature.
“Theodore something” stood before the closed parlor door. He’s a policeman? Tall and hefty, a bold pink shirt peeking out of a buttoned waistcoat and fitted jacket, he looked way out of place against the dainty patterned wallpaper.
He removed his hat. “Miss Caputo.” He strained to keep his voice soft as he held out a piece of paper. “I’m police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt. I have a summons for you” He held it out to her. But she stood rooted to that spot.
He stepped closer and she took it from him, unfolding it with icy fingers. Why would she be served with a summons? Was someone arresting her now for something she didn't do?
A shot of anger tore through her at this system, at everything she wanted to change. She flipped it open and saw the word "Summons" in fancy script at the top. Her eyes widened with each sentence as she read. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”
I hereby order Miss Vita Caputo to enter into holy matrimony with Mr. Thomas McGlory immediately following service of this summons.
How Vita Found Love And Success Against All Odds
It's 1894 on New York's Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. Vita goes from sweatshop laborer to respected bank clerk to reformer, helping elect a mayor to beat the Tammany machine.
While Tom works undercover to help Ted Roosevelt purge police corruption, Vita's father arranges a marriage between her and a man she despises. As Vita and Tom work together against time and prejudice to clear her brother and father of a murder they didn't commit, they know their love can survive poverty, hatred, and corruption.
Vita is based on my great grandmother, Josephine Calabrese, “Josie Red” who left grade school to become a self-made businesswoman and politician, wife and mother.
Now let's hear from Diana Rubino, the creator of Vita!
What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer?
When I started writing historicals, my greatest influences were Bertrice Small, (her book BLAZE WYNDHAM inspired me to write my first historical), Sharon Kay Penman, and Philippa Gregory. Every book of theirs I read inspired me to become the best historical novelist I could be.
What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story and how do you feel it impacted the novel?
My great-grandmother, known as Josie Red because of her head of thick red hair, was a successful businesswoman—she owned apartment buildings, a parking garage, did small-time bootlegging during Prohibition, and served as a Committeewoman in Jersey City. I based Vita on her.
Tell us a bit about your publisher: how did you hear about them and what influenced your decision to submit to them?
I’d read many books by The Wild Rose Press before I submitted to them. My first book with them wasn’t a historical—it’s an urban fantasy, FAKIN’ IT. They published most of my later historicals, and I’ve been very happy with them.
Find Diana Rubino here: