Published : Wednesday, May 22, 2019 | 1:03 PM
South Pasadena author Clare Di Liscia and publisher Month9Books just released Neliem, a debut novel that won the Sue Alexander first place honorable mention from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
The book is inspired by Clare’s grandparents, who fell in love and survived WWII together on the small island of Rhodes despite religious and cultural differences, and her father, who survived bullying and prejudice as a small child there even after the war ended.
In Neliem, the outcast Oriana, rejected by her own people after a plague wipes out half the population on her island, survives with the aid of a mysterious dagger given to her by a dying boy. Years later, she is offered a new life by way of marriage to a complete stranger. Whisked away to a seemingly perfect world, Oriana discovers sinister secrets at every turn and must find the strength she needs to seize the full power of the dagger to protect herself and save her people.
The story is set in a fantasy world, but reflects the hardship and survival of Clare’s real family. Clare’s grandmother, a Sephardic Jew, met her grandfather, an Italian Catholic, when he was
stationed on the military base on Rhodes after WWI. When WWII struck, her grandfather held the base against the Nazis until they threatened to kill the women and children on the island. Her grandfather’s brother just barely saved them and their children, but her grandmother had to watch as the rest of her family and friends were shipped away to fatal camps. Even when the war ended, her father had to run home from school each day along the island’s cliffs to avoid being pelted by rocks by his peers.
Clare Di Liscia moved from New York to California as a small child and grew up in the hills by Dodger Stadium. After traveling through South America and the Caribbean, Clare attended KU Leuven in Belgium to study Dutch and French. Clare graduated from Cal State Northridge Film School with a BA in TV/Film. In 2006 she placed in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting.