Mark Tedesco – Weaving Stories Through Time and Place

Exploring the Heart of Literature and Cultural Connections

PHOTO: Mark Tedesco, writer and educator, captivated by history’s whispers and cultural tales,
sharing insights on his literary odyssey and the enchanting narratives that bridge the past and the present.

Journey into the rich tapestry of historical narratives and intimate reflections with Mark Tedesco, a seasoned writer and educator residing in the vibrant landscapes of California and Italy. With an adept skill for interweaving tales that bridge the present to the past, Tedesco’s passion for exploring the depths of relationships, cultural nuances, and historical events brings a unique essence to his storytelling.

Tedesco’s literary repertoire spans across multiple genres, encompassing travelogues, historical fiction, memoirs, self-help, and children’s fiction. Among his notable titles are “That Undeniable Longing,” “I Am John I Am Paul,” “Lessons and Beliefs,” “The Dog on the Acropolis,” “The Words of My Father,” “Loving Hoping Believing,” and “She Seduced Me: A Love Affair with Rome.”

Beyond his prolific writing pursuits, Tedesco’s dedication as an educator echoes through his passion for inspiring students through the corridors of history, literature, and culture. A devoted traveler in his leisure, Tedesco ventures in search of narratives that enrich and enliven life’s stories.

Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?

“Moby Dick” is the last great book that I read, and I am glad that I put off reading it until I was ready for the story. I found the visuals in the book captivating, the story engaging, and the analogies to destiny were intriguing. I found a story on two levels: a man and his insane chase for a whale and, on another level, the human struggle with a sense of destiny, revenge, surrender, and meaning.

What moves you most in a work of literature?

I am deeply moved by “experiential reading” in literature. When I can feel what the protagonist is going through and witness their transformations, I become a part of the story. For instance, in “Brideshead Revisited,” Charles reflects on his life experiences to find meaning in his circumstances. I can relate to his character and his search for purpose.

What genres do you especially enjoy reading?

I enjoy reading historical fiction because it allows me to learn about history while being entertained. However, if I encounter historical inaccuracies or unlikely interpretations of events in the writing, I lose interest and put the book down. Another genre that I find interesting is crime investigations from the past. I have read the series of Steven Saylor novels on the Finder in ancient Rome and most of what Margaret George has written in the historical sphere. In addition to that, I also enjoy reading humorous books and have read just about everything that David Sedaris has written.

What books and authors have impacted your writing career?

One book that has profoundly impacted me is “Brideshead Revisited” by Evelyn Waugh. As I read it, the “inner voice” that narrates the chain of events resonated with me, and I strive to find my own inner voice when I begin to write a story. The beauty of the prose and the insights into human experience have also left a lasting impression on me and given me something to aspire to.

Which writer would you want to write your life story?

I would have wanted Graham Greene to write my life story because of his ability to weave realism, empathy, belief, and human weakness into a beautiful whole.

What is the biggest challenge in writing a story?

Going from nothing to something is the biggest challenge. It’s easier to refine a story than to sit in front of a blank page and look for a starting point.

I had the story for “The Dog on the Acropolis” in my head for two years before I started writing it down. I waited for the “right moment” or ample free time to begin. However, I realized the right moment wasn’t arriving, so I committed to writing every day until I got the story on paper. At that time, I was a high school teacher, so I was busy preparing lessons and correcting homework. Therefore, I could only commit to thirty minutes a day of writing. I arrived at school a half hour early, locked my door, and wrote down the story. It took me two years to complete the book’s writing, but I got it done little by little.

I often advised my students to break a large task, which they felt incapable of completing, into small chunks. This method works for me too.

What attracted you to writing historical fiction?

I just retired from 25 years as a high school history teacher. I have a passion for reading and writing historical fiction because it can bring the past to life and make it relevant to the present. My students taught me that history without a story is just a collection of names and dates without meaning. My experience as an educator has greatly influenced my writing because, in my storytelling, the characters search for the meaning behind the events. Whenever I visit a monument, an ancient ruin, or view a historical statue, I try to imagine who was standing in that spot, what they were thinking, and what they hoped for. For me, experiencing the past is the beginning of historical fiction.

How is this latest book different from others you have written about Italy?

The first book, “I am John, I am Paul: A Story of Two Soldiers in Ancient Rome,” is a work of historical fiction that sheds light on the intriguing lives and history of two Roman soldiers from the fourth century. “She Seduced Me: A Love Affair with Rome” is a collection of stories about the city of Rome, resulting from research and interviews with street performers, archaeologists, and passionate Romans. “Stories from Puglia” continues this insight by emphasizing that a story gives meaning to a stone, a building, or a statue. Without the story, a rock is just a stone, a painting is just a canvas, and a building is just a house.

Please tell us about your book, “She Seduced Me, A Love Affair With Rome”?

Rome is a city that is full of unique stories. Everything in Rome, from the people to the buildings, statues, and even the street corners, has a story behind it. To gather some of these stories, I stepped out of my comfort zone and interviewed street performers, Romans, expats, historians, and archaeologists. The book is divided into different chapters, each with its tone and focus. Some chapters are humorous, like the one about Americans in Rome, while others are insightful, such as the interviews with street performers. There are also informative chapters about Nero, Augustus, and Caravaggio.

How does travel and living in Italy impact your writing?

Living in Italy has been the cornerstone of my writing. Being immersed in a different culture has given me a unique perspective on the world. I have had the opportunity to meet fascinating people, listen to their thoughts and dreams, and observe how people from diverse backgrounds and cultures live their lives and find fulfillment, happiness, and meaning.

Apart from the people, Italy’s rich history has brought the past to life for me. A simple hike to one of the 16th-century towers in Salento is enough to transport me back in time. I can almost feel the stone beneath my fingertips as I visualize a soldier sending signals to the next tower, warning of an imminent pirate invasion. The community mobilizes, soldiers jump on their horses to warn the townspeople, and the population prepares to face the enemy or scatter in the hills to hide. And thus, a story is born.

When I visited Greece and climbed the Acropolis at night, a stray dog followed me to the top. The next night, I repeated the hike to enjoy the breathtaking view. Halfway up, the same dog met me and trotted alongside me to the top. I began to wonder what life looked like through the dog’s eyes, which inspired my historical novel, “The Dog on the Acropolis.”

An event, a meeting, or an experience often trigger effective writing. Rather than manufacturing a story, it takes on a life of its own, and I witness it unfolding in my imagination. Then I simply write it down.


“It’s as if you’re experiencing live each footstep, each snack, each meal, each conversation. It was like falling in love with every cozy nook, every unswept alleyway, every ancient monument in the city. Amazing.” -Amazon review


“I resisted, but she drew me back. I stayed away, but she beckoned me. I distanced myself, but she haunted me. I even rejected her, but she did not abandon me.

“What is it about Rome that seduces the heart, fascinates the mind, and envelops the senses? Once she becomes part of you, there is no turning back, forgetting, or forsaking. Her fascination deepens with the passing of time and the maturity of life. I cannot stay away for more than a year, yet even that is not enough. She is like a jealous lover, a siren, or a genie who casts an enchanting spell from which one does not want to escape.”

-She Seduced Me: A Love Affair with Rome

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