Q & As for ‘The Italian Girl’

1) Why did you decide to rewrite some of your backlist books?
I originally wrote and published the story of Rosanna and Roberto as ‘Aria’ in 1996, under my old ‘pen’ name, ‘Lucinda Edmonds’. Recently, some of my publishers asked me about my backlist. I told them all the books were currently out of print, but they asked for some copies. Into my cellar I ventured, and pulled out the eight books I’d written all those years ago. They were covered in mouse-droppings and spiders webs and smelt of damp, but I sent them off, explaining that I had been very young then and I completely understood if they wanted to bin them then and there. To my surprise, the reaction was incredibly positive and they asked me whether I would like to re-publish them.

2) What made you choose this book to re-write first?
This was always one of my favourite stories. I loved the setting in Italy, the opera element and Rosanna and Roberto’s relationship. Sadly, a ‘grand passion’ sometimes does not translate into a long and stable partnership

3) How did you approach the rewriting process?
In some ways it as harder than starting an entirely new book because, over the past 15 years, I have experienced more of life and wanted to ensure I put that experience into the story. My feeling is that I was a storyteller before, but now I am a writer too. It takes many years of hard work to perfect one’s craft.

4) How did this book come to life? And what theme did you focus on?
I first came to Italy when I was five and have visited many times since. I think it is the most beautiful country in the world and one day I would love to have a home there. I LOVE houses and my dream is to be in a small village in ‘real’ Italy, where I can go every day to the local café and eat fantastic prosciutto, amazing tomatoes, pasta and risotto! When I wrote ‘The Italian Girl’, I wanted to focus on the richness of the Italian culture and the deep emotional heart of its people. Having grown up on opera – my uncle was chief lightening designer at The Royal Opera House in London so I got to see many dress rehearsals and performances – I chose to write about it, and without a doubt, The Italian Girl is the most passionate – and doomed – love story I’ve ever written.

5) What was your initial inspiration behind Aria/The Italian Girl?
My uncle worked as a chief lighting designer at the Royal Opera house in Covent Garden, and I was lucky enough to see many dress rehearsals. In fact, I saw Kiri Te Kanawa make her debut in La Boheme. The sweeping drama of the music was a perfect backdrop for the emotion of Roberto and Rosanna’s relationship.

6) Your leading ladies always tend to be very artistic. Why is this?
Because I myself have been a ballerina and actress and I write about what I know. I think I would be very bad at writing about an accountant!

7) Roberto and Rosanna’s relationship is very fiery and passionate. Did you take inspiration from people you know for this relationship?
Definitely! My husband and I have a very dynamic relationship and what is more we now work together as he is my literary agent and manager. Working together brings you closer as you share the same goals, but you may not always agree on how to achieve them!

8) Who is your favourite character in The Italian Girl and why?
I am very fond of Luca as he is extremely unselfish and yet at the same time he has his own dream which he waits patiently to fulfil.

9) The Italian Girl is set in both Naples and Milan. Have you spent much time there?
Like everyone else, I adore Italy and one of first memories is when my parents took me to Naples and I could see out to Capri and over to Mount Vesuvius. Milan is one of my favourite cities in the world – the architecture is stunning and the culture in terms of art and music is breathtakingly inspirational. The entire country has a vibrancy and passion that is palpable.