ECC English Professor Wins Fiction Award

Kip Kane, Staff Writer

English professor Christina Marrocco reads from her book, “Addio, Love Monster” at the 2023 Staff Reader Series on Thursday, March 23, 2023. Lance Lagoni

This past June, Elgin Community College English professor Christina Marrocco, Ph.D., published her novel “Addio, Love Monster.” The story received critical acclaim and won the award for the Chicago Writers Association 2022 Book of the Year in the Indie Fiction category.

Marrocco felt surprised and honored after being notified that her work was chosen as the winner.

“I had to read it four times, maybe I’m misreading this,” Marrocco said, describing when she first opened the letter stating “Addio, Love Monster” had won.

The darkly humorous novel, set between 1946 and 1964, is told in linked stories, following the residents of a Sicilian-American neighborhood on Singer Street. The book takes place in Mulberry Park, a fictional town outside Chicago near Melrose Park and Oak Park. The narrative is told from multiple points-of-view, hopping from character to character between chapters. Everyone knows everyone on Singer Street, but each individual story focuses on a single person’s struggles.

“I wrote it to be a very real book about the imperfections of human beings,” Marrocco said.

It took six years for Marrocco to finish “Addio, Love Monster.” Four of those years were taken to revise, and the other two she used to create the first draft. The story started out as small vignettes, which Marrocco eventually knitted together.

However, Marrocco explains her book would be nowhere close to what it became without the help and feedback of other writers. She attributes parts of her revision process to a writers’ group, led by fellow English professor Rachael Stewart, who all helped her fine-tune the book to be palatable to readers unfamiliar with the ways of the characters within.

“You can create work without a community, but your work will be refined by an artistic community and it will ultimately be better,” Marrocco said.

Marrocco’s drive behind writing is to bring the realities of individual people onto pages, not stereotypes or historical representations. 

Shattering stereotypes is just making real people,” Marrocco said.

“Addio, Love Monster” was published by Ovunque Siamo Press, a publishing press specializing in Italian-American writing. After spending some time in North Wales, Marrocco was inspired to write a book set there. She is currently looking for a Welsh publisher to produce it.

Christina Marrocco teaches English Composition II, Creative Writing, Literary Nonfiction Writing and an Introduction to Literature by Women.