WHERE DO YOU START?
Yesterday I spent an hour talking to a reporter who is preparing a two-page Valentine’s Day spread for the women’s supplement of her newspaper. We ranged over my entire writing life (from the age of about ten!) to my latest romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon, Flirting With Italian.
Inevitably, she wanted to know how I started. Where did the idea come from, how did it grow into a book. This is always a difficult question. Books tend to grow organically, changing as I write, becoming something quite different from the initial spark that sent me on my journey. I had to think about it. Why did I write this book?
I sifted through the various stages of the book, the lunch with my editors (three of them in a gorgeous riverside restaurant in
), discussing the idea with them. And then I remembered. There were two things driving that book. Richmond and Ancestry.co.uk. Rome
A place and the past.
I wanted to write a book set in
and the surrounding countryside. To use the warmth, the tastes, the vibrancy of Rome to set my story alight. Italy
I’d been digging around in my family history on Ancestry.co.uk and wanted to write about heroine searching for someone who had changed the story of her family. Without whom she would never have been born.
The eds, fuelled by pink champagne, were enthusiastic, but said that my heroine needed to be doing something for herself as well. Bother. More work. But of course they were right. I had to give her two reasons for being in
. Give her a back story. It couldn’t be just a trip to Rome to find the past. She had to be there for some other reason. She couldn’t speak Italian so my options were limited. Nanny? No that would restrict her time and freedom. Teaching in an international school? Perfect. Rome
Flirting With Italian was a joy to write.
Rome, the surrounding countryside, the tastes and warmth of , provided a wonderful frame for the story. The past gave me not just the connection between hero and heroine, but conflict, tension, emotional depth — never forgetting that this is a romance set in the present, between two wonderful characters and this was, above all, their story. Italy
The setting was a frame, past loves gave me the inciting incident, but Sarah and Matteo brought the whole thing to life, knitting the two stories together, changing lives as they dealt with the past and turned to the a future that they would share.
Flirting With Italian is available in both paper and eBook formats.