A year or so ago, as I was writing my first novel Dreaming Sophia, I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Miss Sophia Loren in person. At the time, I was researching my book, and when I learned she was giving a one-woman show in Las Vegas, I knew I had to find a way to meet her. Had I not been involved in writing the book, I would never have had the courage to do so. After her show, in a private reception, I had the opportunity to speak with her in Italian, kiss her on both cheeks, and tell her about my novel. We also had a photo taken together.
During our brief encounter, I found Miss Loren warm and charming. She was self-deprecating and incredibly gracious, and two things she said that evening resonated with me. The first: is “Believe in your dreams; dreams become reality.” The second: “Be brave. Just do it.” These two ideas are the premise of my first book, so of course, to hear Sophia Loren say this out loud made my heart pound faster!
After publishing my second book Waking Isabella, Gloria — an Italian friend of mine (who has helped me with many of my projects, from writing the theme song for my Matta podcast and Youtube videos to editing the Italian dialogue found in my books) kept after me to write Sophia Loren and share again with her my work. But, I was a bit hesitant and felt slightly overwhelmed by the prospect.
At this point, you are all saying – Melissa? Our Studentessa Matta? Timid? Shy? I know…I know…yet it is true!
But…every time I saw Gloria, she kept pestering me to write this letter and send Sophia my books. So, finally, at the end of February, I did! I sent Miss Loren a letter I wrote in Italian (and even used the Lei form!) and sent it along with my two books. Ultimately, I realized it was very important to me to reach out and thank her for being an inspiration, not only for the character in my book but to me personally as well. Because of my enthusiasm for Italy, I have been brought to where I am now – connected to so many wonderful people with opportunities I never thought possible. That’s it. I just wanted to thank her.
When I went to the mailbox a week or so ago, as I sorted through the envelopes and came across a small one that was hand-printed on heavy cream stock and saw the postmark was Switzerland — I knew in that instant Sophia had written me back.
In a letter that I will always treasure, she wrote:
Carissima, grazie di cuore per la sua bellissima lettera! Infiniti auguri per il suo lavoro! Felicità – Sophia Loren 2018
Dearest, thank you from the heart for your beautiful letter. Infinite wishes for your work! Happiness – Sophia
It is a very satisfying and rewarding feeling that my work has the blessings and encouragement of Sophia Loren!
It really is a magical feeling.