Getting to know Sibella Giorello

Get to know the woman behind Special Agents Raleigh Harmon & Jack Stephanson

Geology major, Pulitzer Prize nominee, wife mother & more

Sibella Giorello

writing for Thomas Nelson


What appeals to you most about writing fiction?

Dreaming with my eyes wide open.

I was constantly scolded for staring out the window as a kid. Daydreaming when I should have been “paying attention.” Now I not only stare out the window, but share that waking-dream with other people. It’s a tremendous blessing.

Why Christian fiction?

Probably because secular publishing houses would change Raleigh Harmon. They would want her to “tone down” her faith.

But her faith in God is what makes her special, literally.

Name five things you can’t live without

Love, music, laughter, children and sex. (Hey, you asked!)

Rel: I did!

Favourite book ~ Favourite movie ~ Favourite TV show

I’ve never managed to keep single favorites. They shift from year to year. But my favorite authors include Kate Atkinson, John D. MacDonald, Ross Macdonald.

Favorite movies run from “It’s a Wonderful Life” to “Gran Torino” (which, circumstance aside, aren’t all that different from each other).

Favorite TV shows come down to “Rockford Files” and “Monk.”

Where is the most interesting place you have been

My childhood in Alaska. Nothing will ever fascinate so much, or reach so deep into my heart.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Pediatrician. Then I realized how many children I’d have to see in pain.

What are two things people might be surprised to know about you

I’m deathly afraid of ferris wheels. And I can’t stand the feeling of polish on my nails — it makes me feel like I’m suffocating.

Rel: I feel the same about wearing socks to be ~ the suffocating, not the deathly fear!!

The Stars Shine Bright

After the FBI suspends her for bending its rules, Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is looking for a chance to redeem her career and re-start her life.

Sent undercover to a thoroughbred horse track, Raleigh takes on a double life to find out who’s fixing the races. But when horses start dying and then her own life is threatened, Raleigh realizes something bigger—and more sinister—is ruining Emerald Meadows.

She’s never felt more alone.

Her one contact with the FBI is Special Agent Jack Stephanson, a guy who seems to jump from antagonistic to genuine friend depending on the time of day. And she can’t turn to her family for support. They’re off-limits while she’s undercover, and her mother isn’t speaking to her anyway, having been confined to a mental hospital following a psychotic breakdown. Adding insult to her isolation, Raleigh’s fiancé wants them to begin their life together—now—precisely when she’s been ordered not to be herself.

With just days left before the season ends, Raleigh races to stop the killing and find out who’s behind the track’s trouble, all the while trying to determine if Jack is friend or foe, and whether marrying her fiancé will make things better—or worse.

Raleigh is walking through the darkest night she’s faced, searching for a place where the stars shine bright.

What was your favourite scene to write?

Again, favorites shift. But writing this ending felt like I was dying — in a good way. Something ripped inside my heart. The emotions were so poignant among the characters involved, with quiet desperation.

Which character did you connect to the most?

Raleigh. She’s who I’d be if I were braver.

Which character was the most difficult to write?

The shrink, Dr. Norbert. A total putz!

What’s next in your writing pipeline?

More Raleigh. I’m working on two novels with her. One goes forward, picking up where “The Stars Shine Bright” leaves off. The other goes backwards, taking readers to her beginnings in Richmond, Virginia. Both are a pleasure to work on.

Thanks Sibella – you are a delight!

Relz Reviewz Extras
Character spotlight on Raleigh
Character spotlight on Jack
Visit Sibella’s website and blog
Buy The Stars Shine Bright at Amazon or Koorong

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12 Responses to Getting to know Sibella Giorello

  1. I can’t do ferris wheels and thought I was the only one who couldn’t stand the weight of nail polish. Lol. Looking forward to reading more Raleigh.

  2. Such a fun interview…my mom could never wear nail polish either for the same reason. You are the best!

  3. Of course one of my favorite authors, and Raleigh Harmon is one of the best characters created. Period.

  4. Oh, and my hands have to be like sandpaper before I can stand putting any kind of lotion on them. Never minded all the horse medicines on them at the track though. Go figure.

  5. Great interview!
    I recently read one of Sibella’s books for the first time, and I enjoyed getting to know more about her. I also want to read more of the Raleigh books. :)

  6. I’m eagerly awaiting more Raleigh Harmon books! They are so addictive! I’m trying to find out how many are available on audio. I have listened to two so far, on long road trips. They sure do help to pass the time.
    Sibella, I love your writing style. The characters are so well-developed, so real, so quirky! Yet they are never overdone. We feel the raw emotion in Raleigh…and we want to help her! That’s great fiction!
    Keep it up!

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