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 from Fairfield University with a degree in English and earned a master’s degree 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 former 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. Her research has taken her to Venice, Italy, New Orleans, and monastic communities in Italy, Vermont, and Connecticut.
Mary’s first two novels, Thirst (2012) and Plagued (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.
Orla’s Canvas, Mary’s first book with Penmore Press, is a coming-of-age tale about a young artist set against the backdrop of Civil Rights-era New Orleans. It took First Place in the Novel-for-Adults category in the CONNECTICUT PRESS CLUB COMMUNICATIONS CONTEST, 2016. The NATIONAL FEDERATION OF PRESS WOMEN awarded the novel Third Place in its 2016 national competition.
At present, Mary is drafting a sequel to Orla's Canvas.
Mary reviews 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.
Chair of the English Department and writing instructor at Chase Collegiate School, Waterbury, CT, Mary leads her writing students on slow travel tours of Italy, the country she considers her second home. In addition, she mentors four adult writers in a private workshop and teaches a literature class at UCONN/Waterbury's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.