the author

Meet Melissa

Melissa Muldoon is an artist, illustrator, graphic designer, and the principal behind Matta Press. She is the award-winning author of “Dreaming Sophia” and “Waking Isabella,” and “Eternally Artemisia” and “The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola.” She has translated her second novel, “Waking Isabella,” into Italian — “Il risveglio di Isabella.

She is also the author and illustrator of the children’s book series Sofia, la Piccola Matta Teaches Italian, which aims to introduce young readers to the Italian language through bright illustrations, simplified grammar explanations, and entertaining stories.

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Four Novels set in Italy by Melissa Muldoon and one translated into Italian!

Melissa Muldoon’s novels, set against the picturesque backdrop of Italy, serve as a canvas to express her profound love for the country’s art, history, and language. Through her storytelling, she aims to inspire readers to dream about Italy and foster a desire to learn the Italian language. 

Her works include “Dreaming Sophia,” “Waking Isabella,” “Eternally Artemisia,” and “The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola.” These narratives celebrate art and creativity, weaving tales of women on transformative journeys. Each story is a voyage of self-discovery, where the protagonists navigate the complexities of love, unravel mysteries, and pursue their destinies to create a better future. Muldoon’s novels pay homage to Italy’s rich cultural heritage and inspire readers to explore, cherish… and learn the language! 

Newly Published!

Sofia, la Piccola Matta Teaches Italian

Numbers, Colors & Beginning Italian Made Fun!
Matta Italian Language Learning for Big & Small Kids
By Melissa Muldoon

features & awards
Novel set in Florence Italy by Melissa Muldoon

Dreaming Sophia

Dreaming Sophia is a magical look into Italy, language, art, and culture. It is a story about turning dreams into reality and learning to walk the fine line between fact and fantasy. When tragedy strikes, Sophia finds herself alone in the world, without direction and fearful of loving again. With only her vivid imagination to guide her, she begins a journey that will take her from the vineyards in Sonoma, California to a grad school in Philadelphia and, eventually, to Italy: Florence, Lucca, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Val d’Orcia. Through dreamlike encounters, Sophia meets Italian personalities—princes, poets, duchesses, artists, and film stars— who give her advice to help put her life back together. Following a path that takes her from grief to joy, she discovers the source of her creativity and learns to love again, turning her dreams into reality.

Waking Isabella

Waking Isabella is a story about uncovering hidden beauty that, over time, has been lost, erased, or suppressed. It also weaves together several love stories as well as a few mysteries. Nora, an assistant researcher, is a catalyst for resolving the puzzle of a painting that has been missing for decades. Set in Arezzo, a small Tuscan town, the plot unfolds against the backdrop of the city’s antique trade and the fanfare and pageantry of its medieval jousting festival. While filming a documentary about Isabella de’ Medici—the Renaissance princess who was murdered by her husband—Nora begins to connect with the lives of two remarkable women from the past. Unraveling the stories of Isabella, the daughter of a fifteenth-century Tuscan duke, and Margherita, a young girl trying to survive the war in Nazi-occupied Italy, Nora begins to question the choices that have shaped her own life up to this point. As she does, hidden beauty is awakened deep inside of her, and she discovers the keys to her creativity and happiness. It is a story of love and deceit, forgeries and masterpieces—all held together by the allure and intrigue of a beautiful Tuscan ghost.

Eternally Artemisia

They say some loves travel through time and are fated to meet over and over again. For Maddie, an art therapist, who wrestles with the “peculiar feeling” she has lived previous lives and is being called to Italy by voices that have left imprints o her soul, this idea is intriguing. Despite her best efforts, however, proof of this has always eluded her. That is, until one illuminating summer in Italy when Maddie’s previous existences start to bleed through into her current reality. When she is introduced to the Crociani family—a noble clan with ties to the seventeenth-century Medici court that boasts of ancestors with colorful pasts—she finally meets the loves of her life. One is a romantic love, and another is a special kind of passion that only women share, strong amongst those who have suffered greatly yet have triumphed despite it. As Maddie’s relationship develops with Artemisia Gentileschi—an artist who in a time when it was unheard of to denounce a man for the crime of rape, did just that—Maddie discovers a kindred spirit and a role model, and just what women are capable of when united together. In a journey that arcs back to biblical days and moves forward in time, Maddie encounters artists, dukes, designers, and movie stars as well as baser and ignoble men. With Artemisia never far from her side, she proves that when we dare to take control of our lives and find the “thing” we are most passionate about, we are limitless and can touch the stars.

The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola

Set in the sixteenth-century, The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola tells the story of a woman’s passion for painting and adventure. In a world where women painters had little to no acknowledgment, she was singled out by Michelangelo and Vasari who recognized and praised her talent. Gaining the Milanese elite’s acclaim, she went on to become court painter to Spanish King Philip II and taught his queen to paint. One can’t live such an extraordinary life without having stories to tell, and tell them Sofonisba does to Sir Anthony Van Dyke, who comes to visit her toward the end of her life. During their meeting, she agrees to reveal her secrets but first challenges the younger painter to find the one lie hidden in her tale. In a saga filled with intrigue, jealousy, buried treasure, unrequited love, espionage, and murder, Sofonisba’s story is played out against the backdrop of Italy, Spain, and Sicily. Throughout her life, she encounters talented artists, authoritative dukes, mad princes, religious kings, spying queens, vivacious viscounts, and dashing sea captains—even a Barbary pirate. But of all the people who fell in love with Sofonisba, only one captured her heart. The painter may have many secrets but the truth of her life is crystal clear from the beginning. Always a strong, passionate woman with a dream, she was an intelligent artist who knew her self-worth and in the end, as Michelangelo had done for her, Sofonisba passed her brush to a new generation.

Il risveglio di Isabella

Waking Isabella has been translated into Italian

Waking Isabella è una storia che parla di scoprire la bellezza nascosta che, nel tempo, è stata persa, cancellata o soppressa. Intreccia anche diverse storie d’amore così come alcuni misteri. Nora, una ricercatrice assistente, è un catalizzatore per risolvere il puzzle di un dipinto che è scomparso per decenni. Ambientato ad Arezzo, una piccola città toscana, il plot si svolge sullo sfondo del commercio antiquario della città e del clamore e della pompa della sua festa medioevale dei tornei. Mentre filma un documentario su Isabella de’ Medici – la principessa rinascimentale uccisa dal marito – Nora inizia a connettersi con le vite di due donne straordinarie del passato. Svelando le storie di Isabella, la figlia di un duca toscano del quindicesimo secolo, e Margherita, una giovane ragazza che cerca di sopravvivere alla guerra nell’Italia occupata dai nazisti, Nora inizia a mettere in discussione le scelte che hanno plasmato la sua vita fino a quel momento. Mentre lo fa, una bellezza nascosta si risveglia profondamente dentro di lei e scopre le chiavi della sua creatività e felicità. È una storia d’amore e inganno, falsi e capolavori – il tutto unito dal fascino e dall’intrigo di un bellissimo fantasma toscano.

Now Available in Print & Kindle Epub!

Sofia, la Piccola Matta Teaches Italian

Matta Italian Language Learning for Big & Small Kids


“Brava! You are not only becoming Italian, but a Renaissance woman as well. I know how much work goes into a book, and yours certainly shines through. In Dreaming Sophia, Melissa Muldoon weaves many strands of Italian culture into a delightful blend of fantasy, romance, art and history. With an artist’s keen eye and deft touch, she brings to life the titans of Italian culture in a touching tale of a young woman reeling from loss who discovers that “Italy is the answer.” The many Italophiles who share her belief will revel in the adventures of this kindred spirit. Brava, Melissa!”
—Dianne Hales, author of “La Bella Lingua” and “Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered”

“I loved following in Sophia’s footsteps as she was introduced to Florence and the Italian culture. Her imagination and her love of artistic icons was charming. Melissa Muldoon’s experience with Italians and their expressions, wives’s tales and cultural idiosyncrasies had me chuckling. It had me reminiscing all the times my mom and nonna would do and say the exact same things! But it’s the ex-pat life of an artist who discovers who she truly is meant to be that warmed my heart as I read Dreaming Sophia. To all the dreamers out there, the message is that no matter how rough the start, dreams do become reality.”
—Laura Fabiani, Italy Book Tours

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