Susanne, thanks so much for allowing me to visit on this glorious summer Sunday. Despite a lack of rehearsal time, I’m roaring to jump upon the page and tell you all about my new release, “Rosamanti”.
1. Are you inspired most by places, people or experiences and how do these work their way into your writing?
Although I’m inspired by all three, I have to say that a place is the thing that really grabs my heart first. But I’m also inspired by the local people I meet, by the food, and by the music. In my books, I try really hard to give the reader an authentic taste of a different location by describing cultures, history, cuisine and language as best I can. The location or setting of a story can also shape the way the characters act whilst there, especially if they’ve changed in some way from how they used to be in another location.
2. Please share one of your favourite moments of inspiration with us.
Gosh, a favourite? That’s hard. I’m easily inspired. J For Rosamanti, I would say that the Blue Grotto on the island of Capri is just so gob-smackingly awesome that I would be joining a long queue of people who have been moved to write a story about it, or incorporating it. It’s other-worldly qualities lend itself to mystery, wonder, delight. I just had to write about it.
However, for my first book, Let Angels Fly, even though I set it mainly in the magnificent Angkor Wat temples, it was the Cambodian people who inspired me mostly. I wanted to capture their loveliness, friendliness, and fortitude, amidst immense hardship and poverty. They are inspirational in many ways.
3. How did you come up with the idea of Rosamanti?
I’ve had a love affair with Capri for more years than I care to tell you. I have often fantasized about moving there to live, as it seems as though the creative muse is at its strongest on Capri. For centuries writers, artists and poets have gone there to create their works of art. Ernest Hemingway, Jean Paul Sartre, and Thomas Mann are among some of the writers who found the island inspirational. I’ve visited there several times and it never fails to ignite my creativity. It seemed logical to me that the enchanting and beautiful island was the perfect setting for a romance. I created the perfect villa, in the perfect place, with the perfect Italian man, and made a heroine who deserved to find happiness.
4. How do you come up with your characters’ names?
If you Google Italian names, you’ll find listings of first and second names. I created Pietro Lombardi, my hero, from the list. I also wanted an Italian name that rolled off the tongue easily. I personally don’t like reading books where you trip over hard-to-pronounce names. I think it works well as Pietro. My heroine, Sarah, well I just happen to like that name so I chose it. The secondary characters of Elena, Carlo and Theresa are also names I just happen to like.
5. If there is one genre that you have not written in yet, but would love to try writing a book in that specific genre, what would it be?
I write mostly contemporary romance/romantic suspense, but have also written a historical novel based on fact called Stone of Heaven and Earth. I’ve also written erotic romance under a different name. But I really want to do more historical novels in the future.
6. How many blurbs did you have to write before the final one?
Oh dear. Writing blurbs is not easy. Here’s the blurb for Rosamanti, so you be the judge. I think this is number 4. J
Sarah is seeking solitude and fresh pastures in the wake of her husband’s early death. She answers a newspaper advertisement and takes up residence in Villa Rosamanti, a 400 year old dwelling nestled into the hillside of Monte Tiberio on the Island of Capri.
She soon discovers a strong resonance with the house, the gardens, and the pets. As the sun-filled days pass, she builds a deep liking for, and rapport with, Elena Lombardi, the owner. But it’s when she meets Pietro, Elena’s grandson, that she finds it’s not just the villa that she’s falling in love with.
Handsome, charming, and the epitome of a passionate Italian, Pietro lets the magic of Rosamanti work its wonders on Sarah. Together they search for ancient treasure, and end up finding each other, their love blooming like the rampant bougainvillea blossoms in the garden at Rosamanti.
7. If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be? And why?
Oh, to meet a real life Pietro. *sigh* There’s nothing not to love about him. He’s gorgeous in every way – and he can cook!
[Definitely a bonus asset! ;) ]
8. What are you working on now?
My current work in progress is called Honor’s Debt. It’s set in Ireland, and tells the story of Honor Quirke as she tries to fulfil a promise to her great-grandmother. It’s a story about keeping promises and repaying debts of the heart, not just monetary debts. It’s set in a fictional town called Timpelaire, which is based on a real town where my Irish forebears came from, and my cousins still live there. Honor travels alone through Ireland, seeking her cousins, trying to patch up hurts from long ago. Needless to say, the research has been wonderful as I’ve driven solo around Ireland, taking notes and lots of photos to ensure the authenticity of the setting.
9. Would you like to share an excerpt from your writing or a photo or music link that inspires you?
For my current work in progress, Honor’s Debt, I can’t get a song called ‘A Place I’ve Never Been’ out of my head. It’s a song I wrote some years ago when I was doing a road trip in outback Queensland. I was alone, and I was running away from a messy relationship. The song came to me as I hurtled through wheat fields and wide open spaces, and I can still remember the feeling of the hot wind coming in through my open car window, blowing my hair about as if it was blowing away all the clutter I’d let get into my head. With apologies for the singing, here’s me singing it and I’m also playing guitar. (Thanks to fellow Aussie author Deb Richardson for putting her photos onto the YouTube version and uploading it.)
[Have to say I’m in awe, Noelle!]
10. Please share your favourite cocktail recipe or celebration photo.
Ah, anyone who’s read Let Angels Fly, will know that the little Cambodian barman at the hotel where my heroine, Abbie, stays, makes the BEST mojitos in the world. Here’s Arun’s recipe:
“Firstly, Madame, I crush lots of fresh mint and slices of lime in the glass with a special tool. This make all the lovely oils release from fruit and leaves, then—ah, the aroma, Madame.” Abbie watched him, delighted by his description of making a cocktail. “Then I add some sugar, and more lime slices, and keep on crushing them until I can’t fit any more into the glass. Then I put in some ice, some white rum, then some soda. And then, Madame, I put some mint on top. You can almost eat my mojito cocktail with a spoon.” He finished with a flourish.
[Hey, Arun, looks, sounds, smells and tastes wonderful, and the feeling as it slides down the throat… Aah, just keep them coming!]
Noelle, many thanks for visiting and for sharing your passions and inspirations with us. It’s been a pleasure.
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