Thank you to inspirational talent Kimberly Sullivan who lives in Rome and has written ‘In the Shadow of the Apennines’ set in the mountains of Abruzzo. She tagged me in the ‘Be Inspired’ blog hop hosted by ‘Page After Page’:
All of our stories come from somewhere, whether it be a dream, another book, a life event…So, I thought why not give people the chance to talk about their inspirations as well as their stories?
To participate, I should answer 10 questions about my novel and then tag 5 writer’s:
1. What is the name of your book?
‘A Piece of the Mosaic’
2. Where did the idea of your book come from?
It started with a prompt in a creative writing class at the Groucho Club in Soho; the tutor asked us to spend 5 minutes writing about a character. It was the scariest part of the class, that compulsory, time limited plunge into the unknown with others furiously scribbling away.
Paralysed, I had a vision of the back of a young man standing on a pier smoking a cigarette, gazing out to sea . He was wearing black trousers and a black leather jacket, observed by two schoolgirls giggling on a bench. After the class finished, I could not get that man out of my head.
3. In what genre would you classify your book?
I hate labels, I hope this book crosses as many genres as possible, but if I had to guess I would say it is contemporary, cross cultural fiction.
4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?
I don’t know any current Italian actors, so I would suggest a young man of Mediterranean origin to play Alfredo and because this question is too hard, I’m going to adapt it and say I dream of music composed by Ennio Morricone and the film directed by Giuseppe Tornatore director of Cinema Paradiso and Ba’aria. Authentic it must be.
5. Provide a brief synopsis.
Alfredo’s home village – Liguria
Angry with his father after his mother’s death, young Italian chef Alfredo, abandons the fishing village he has lived in all his life and travels to England, eventually finding a job in the seaside town on the South Coast. In return for low rent, he agrees to an unorthodox request from his spinster landlady Claudette, to help her find the sister she has not seen for 30 years since she and her husband immigrated to New Zealand.
Alfredo discovers more than a long-lost sister and the search soon becomes his own, to find Claudette’s niece Amber; the journey leading him towards everything he has tried to avoid in order to learn the truth.
6. Is your book already published/represented?
The synopsis and first three chapters have been read by 3 agents in London, with encouraging responses but declining representation and the full manuscript was requested by the fiction editor at Penguin NZ, who enjoyed it and suggested I seek representation in the UK.
In order to establish some credibility with my writing, I decided to write a blog before I send it out again, so here I am blogging away, sharing my passion for the written word.
7. How long did it take you to write your book?
The actual writing part probably took about a year, but I wrote it in two bursts, the first half when I lived in London and on a whim travelled to Liguria to spend a week in a fishing village imagining and writing of lives other than my own.
I finished it in the first six months of arriving in France unable to speak French – the best excuse in the world not to have a proper job and to finish a first novel.
8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or readers of which books would enjoy yours?
There are many books about people from the English-speaking world going to live in a non-English speaking country, both fiction and non-fiction, Alfredo isn’t leaving to see the world, he is escaping. It is a story that questions identity and confronts issues of adoption and family.
I think it will appeal to people who like books that take them to places they dream of visiting and that introduce them to issues from different cultural perspectives, if anyone has any suggestions as to any other book this sounds like, let me know.
9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?
Two authors come to mind immediately, ironically Stephen King influenced this book, because I read his excellent slim masterpiece ‘On Writing’ midway through writing. After reading it I changed a few things, I stopped writing longhand, I set a 1000 words/day word count (his is 2,000 words/day) and I stopped editing as I was writing, I just wrote it out until the end – terrified it would be crap, but discovered how to create pace.
The other author who spent some time residing in my subconscious was Italo Calvino, it took me a while to figure out what he wanted; now I know – but it’s a secret.
10. Tell us anything that might pique interest in your book?
Here are two extracts that survived that very first writing exercise, sitting in the Groucho Club in London, searching the recesses of my mind for inspiration.
Looking out over the swollen sea, Alfredo smiled knowingly at how her moods changed, one moment bright and sparkling in her refinery, phosphorescence glittering like sequins in the moonlight, the next as she was now, irascible, dark and brooding, like a young lover scorned, beauty transformed into bitterness. He watched a fish jump momentarily from her clutch, as if trying to escape her volatile and uncompromising mood, then witnessed the force of gravity, the sea’s ever-trusting accomplice, toss the cold-blooded vertebrae back into the maelstrom from which it had tried valiantly to escape.
He threw his half-finished cigarette into the sea and she hissed at him in reply. He had never been a regular smoker in Italy and wished he could kick the habit, cigarettes had become a comfort since he came to England, he liked to roll them as much as he liked to smoke them, it gave his hands something to do when his mind was restless. Thoughts extinguished, he walked down the length of the pier, eyes front, not looking at two giggling teenage girls to his right but sensing their eyes following his footsteps, over the wooden planks, where if one’s gaze was concentrated enough, you could see the pregnant swell of the waves below, as the tidal ebb carried them to and from the shore.
And now to tag 5 writers, all of whom are an inspiration to me:
- Brenda Moguez – Passionate Pursuits
– Brenda is a prolific, unique and inspirational blogger with a rich family and personal history to draw on, not to mention a gigantic imagination, it’s just a matter of time before we will be reading her novel, now doing the rounds of agents.
- Juliet Greenwood – JulietGreenwoodAuthor – Juliet lives in a traditional Welsh cottage between the romantic Isle of Anglesey and the majestic mountains and ruined castles of Snowdonia, she is living the dream, a published writer and avid gardener; she is an inspiration.
- Patricia Sands – Everyone Has a Story to Tell
– Patricia has published a book about friendship, fun and the complexities of relationships among women, drawing inspiration from her own experiences. Every Friday she blogs about France and her current WIP (work in progress) is set here.
- Julie Christine – Chalk the Sun
– Julie is a Francophile, she is a reading writer, travels often and writes a fantastic book review. Just waiting for her to plunge right into writing that novel, a WWII star-crossed romance between a young French girl and a German POW, inspired by true events.
- Jen Thompson – Chronicles of Jen
– Jen is another writer who loves to read and shares her thoughts when she does, she’s a talented writer, lives in a caravan and is out there observing characters and seeking inspiration while serving hotdogs and popcorn. She may not be able to participate because her idea is so great, someone might steal it J
- Nelle – NelleWrites –I’m going to add one more, because I couldn’t have a list of writers without including Nelle, who not only is a great writer, but is a loyal follower and comments on all my reviews, even though her book budget is severely restricted.