Stephanie Verni’s third book, “Inn Significant,” follows a woman named Millie who overcomes loss by helping with the family business on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Local Writer Releases Third Novel, “Inn Significant”
Stephanie Verni (neé Parrillo) has always been a writer, though her path to fiction novelist was less direct. She currently is a professor of business communication at Stevenson University, where she instructs writing and communication courses. Prior to teaching, Verni spent 13 years with the Baltimore Orioles working in communications and marketing. “Fiction and creative writing was something that I always did for fun,” said Verni.
Her first novel, “Under the Mimosa Tree,” was written 25 years ago as a short story while Verni was in graduate school at Towson University pursuing a master’s degree in professional writing. It wasn’t until she took a teaching position at Stevenson University in 2007 with the caveat that she’d complete a master’s of fine arts degree that her short story began to take shape as a novel.
While pursuing her MFA, Verni met George Friedman, a professor who would become a mentor and friend. Friedman told her that he really liked the characters of “Under the Mimosa Tree” and would like to learn more about them, and he suggested she expand the short story into a novel. Verni spent the next few years working on the story, and “Under the Mimosa Tree,” the novel, was published in 2012. Set in the 1980s and 1990s, partially in Annapolis, the story is about the complexities of families and the journey to self-discovery.
Verni’s second novel, “Baseball Girl,” was actually started after “Inn Significant,” her newest release.“I had the idea of ‘Inn Significant’ in my head for years, but I didn’t quite have the ‘hook,’ so I was feeling a bit stuck,” she explained.
Realizing that Verni was at a standstill with her current novel, a former Orioles coworker suggested that she take a break from “Inn Significant” and write about something that should come easily – baseball.
“I started writing ‘Baseball Girl’ as a way to think about something other than ‘Inn Significant,’” added Verni. “I still loved the story, but I needed to put it down for a while.”
Published in 2015, “Baseball Girl” is a story of Francesca, a young woman grieving the loss of her father, and driven to baseball as a way to stay connected with traditions and her deceased father. On her journey to the big leagues, Francesca learns to trust herself and take risks again.
Verni returned to “Inn Significant” by taking a trip to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It wasn’t until she found the Sandaway Inn in Oxford about a year ago that her characters and her imagination really came alive.
Following the sudden and tragic death of her husband, Milly can no longer function. For more than two years she is merely breathing, a hollow shell of a person going through motions without living. Her parents convince her to leave Washington, D.C., to help them run their inn in Oxford.
“I could feel Milly, I could picture her there,” said Verni. “Oxford is a beautiful, secluded place where I knew she could heal.”
While in Oxford, Milly meets another lost soul, and the two of them find comfort and understanding in each other. She also makes a discovery hidden within the ancient and long forgotten walls of the inn that ties her life to her grandmother’s. The parallels between the two women are too strong to overlook and the discovery sparks Milly’s climb back to the living.
Verni draws inspiration from her own strong relationships with her family, most significantly grandmothers, mothers, daughters and granddaughters. “I think my story inspiration come from a deep-rooted fear of losing the people I love most,” she said.
In addition to her three novels, Verni co-authored the textbook, “Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.” She plans to compile a number of short stories for her next publication and perhaps a collection of poetry works.
Verni’s novels are available at through www.barnesandnoble.com and at the Severna Park Public Library. Verni lives with her family in Severna Park and is available for group book talks or private book club events. She can be reached at email@example.com.