Vivid storytelling for local author’s first novel

Malverne resident Rossana Weitekamp pens tale of Italian immigrants


Malverne resident Rossana Weitekamp has been thinking about writing her first novel for many years, and now that aspiration has become a reality.

Weitekamp, a former editor of the Malverne/West Hempstead Herald, self-published her first work of fiction this past November on and While it’s too soon to tell if Weitekamp’s book, “Where You End, I Begin,” will climb up the ranks of the New York Times bestseller list, her finished project is a great achievement, a testament to her hard work and dedication.

“The book is something I’ve always wanted to write for a long time,” Weitekamp said. “I’ve had it in me for decades. Once I started writing, the story took me where it wanted to go. As I wrote, it kept changing and evolving and twisting and turning. I was quite entertained by it.”

Her book tells the story of several Italian immigrant families and the life choices they make. Weitekamp said the story, through flashbacks, helps readers grasp how important events are in their own life.

“I am a first-generation Italian-American,” Weitekamp said. “I was raised by people who were born and raised in Italy. I have been to Italy so many times. Just being in those areas inspired me further.”

Weitekamp said many friends helped her edit and revise the book, most notably her childhood friend, Charles Casillo, the author of several books, including “Marilyn: The Private Life of a Public Icon .” Casillo, also a journalist and actor, is widely known as an expert on Marilyn Monroe.

“I’m familiar with Rossana’s journalism work, but this is the first time I’d read any of her fiction,” Casillo said. “I was totally impressed by her attention to detail and emotional acuity. The characters are vivid and the narrative is multi-layered and absorbing. The finished product is sleek and dramatic — a storytelling success.”

Casillo said he and Weitekamp have been friends since kindergarten, when he called her “Red Rose” because of her red hair and the Red Rose tea commercials on television. He said that Weitekamp’s manuscript was already tight and compelling. Weitekamp has read Casillo’s manuscripts, and he was happy to do the same for her.

“I think my input is minimal because the story was already very thought-out and structured,” Casillo said. “If anything, I asked questions or made observations that encouraged her to dig a little deeper into her own imagination and use her talent more fully in certain passages.”

With reviews like Casillo’s, Weitekamp’s book is sure to be a success. She said the combination of positive online reviews and the excitement of having finished a first novel have her already considering a sequel.

“I left the story that way,” Weitekamp said. “That’s definitely on my radar. Because the story takes place in Italy, I am currently marketing the book in Italy and possibly providing an Italian translation.”

The writing process itself was interrupted a few times. In addition to taking decades to start the book officially, Weitekamp said she stopped writing because of challenges in her life.

“I had several deaths in the family and family members with bad health,” she said. “I did not feel creative at all and put it down for two years. When I finally picked it up again, I had to reread it. Quite honestly, I forgot what happened.”

The writing intermission was helpful, however, and provided renewed creative energy.

“It kept the story fresh and helped me build momentum,” Weitekamp said. “I reread it and found myself putting in many twists and turns that I didn’t anticipate. It made the story so much more interesting and engaging.”

The list of literary titans who self-published is considerable and includes the likes of Margaret Atwood, Upton Sinclair, Virginia Woolf, among other famous authors. Weitekamp has found that encouraging, in addition to people online reconnecting after decades to praise her novel.

“It’s been really great having people come out of the woodwork to post online that they read my book and gave me sparkling reviews,” Weitekamp said. “Someone I haven’t seen in literally 35 years read my book three days after I posted it and gave me a really nice review. It’s exciting. And it’s inspiring that you can self-publish.”

“Where You End, I Begin” is available online at for $25.99 for a hardcover or $9.99 for an eBook. A paperback version is available at for $15.99.