From welfare mother to international author, Suzanne Palmieri has the magic.

Palmieri, who will sign her novel "The Witch of Belladonna Bay" from noon to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 23, at Elm Street Books, grew up on stories of Italian magic. She said she believes in a magic that is a natural instinct, which perhaps led the young, single mother on welfare through college and eventually to a master's degree in sociology from Fordham University. She now is the author of four books.

In "The Witch of Belladonna Bay," Bronwyn is forced to return home to Magnolia Creek, Ala. -- where she hasn't been since her mother, Naomi, died 14 years earlier -- and the troubled family she left behind. With her brother Patrick behind bars for the murder of her childhood friend and her eccentric father, Jackson, at wits' end with her 11-year-old niece Byrd, Bronwyn finds herself wrapped up in the mysteries surrounding the murder and Byrd's strange ways.

As she unravels the secrets behind the murder, long-forgotten memories surface and the magic living quietly inside grows stronger, creating an unbreakable bond between her and Byrd.

The novel is a follow-up to Palmieri's debut book, "The Witch of Little Italy," which is being translated into Spanish and Italian. Under the name of Suzanne Hayes, she is co-author with Loretta Nyhan of "Empire Girls," due out later this month, and "I'll Be Seeing You," which is being translated into French. Palmieri, who lives in New Haven, is working on her next novel.

For information, call 203-966-4545. The bookstore is at 35 Elm St., New Canaan.