A Piece of the Mosaic

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Juliet GreenwoodJulietGreenwoodAuthor – 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.
  3. Patricia SandsEveryone 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Jen ThompsonChronicles 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
  6. Nelle NelleWritesI’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.

44 thoughts on “A Piece of the Mosaic

  1. I look forward to its publication!

    Thank you for the tag. I’m a bit under the blogging weather, still feeling the loss of a friend, thus ambivalence to posting. I’ll try to write up responses this weekend and get it on the site.


  2. I loved your piece, Claire, and thank you for the glimpse into your novel. I can see why you’ve had a positive response. Fingers crossed!

    Thanks for tagging me. Off to answer those questions now …..



  3. Oh Claire, I am so honored, touched and humbled that you mentioned me! I know your novel will find its home and I celebrate your success at sparking such interest. I can’t wait to read A Piece of the Mosaic.

    I’ll get to work on my own responses… 🙂


  4. Claire… I am truly touched to be listed. You know, like most writers I wonder all the time about my writing, is it this or that, or should I give up this folly , or more of this and that. It’s a tough passion, but when I think of stopping I can’t seem to think beyond that moment. And then.. I read a comment to a post, or see something like this, and I remember why I am a writer. Thanks kindly.

    As for you book, it sounds like such a good read. I am always intrigued about stories like this and where the originate from. I scene written in London has me piqued. I am sending you good thoughts and hope your novel lands soon.

    I didn’t star querying agents until this past March. It’s a long and painful process. I’ve had a couple hits, some flat out not thank yous, and a request for the full MS. In the meantime, I keep looking.

    I don’t usually particulate in tags or awards but only because I hate bothering other writers… But this is one, is truly inspiring and a ways for authors to share. I’m excited to respond. Thanks again.


    • Thanks Brenda, the tag was all in aid of appreciation and belief in your talent (and less about the need to participate – this is already a little outside my comfort zone, but I know that is also good for us to experience). I am sure perseverance and constant practice wins out in the end and I feel like I am keeping good company with you all in this.

      Sounds like the fish are biting, but as you say, keep putting the line out anyway, I’m preparing myself to start doing that again too 🙂 Bonne Courage!


  5. Pingback: The Be Inspired Bog Hop: I’ve been tagged! « Juliet Greenwood

  6. My goodness, the extract was wonderful! I know how hard it is to write thanks to your “flash fiction” challenge, (..no wait, spontanetiy!). …await publication of your book!


    • Thank you for your encouragement and the positive afirmation, a spontaneous writing challenge is great!

      Good to hear you allowed that notion to entice you to suscribe to ‘Muze’ can’t wait to read a review of it (or parts of it that inspire you) 🙂


  7. First of all Claire, I have to tell you how much I love your blog! Having only found it last week, I am anticipating many happy moments getting lost in the maze and promise of all those magical words. I love discovering new authors, especially if they are female! Your own book sounds like a positive delight and I await the publication of it with eagerness and more than a little impatience! Good luck!


  8. Thank you so very much, dear Claire, for including me in your “Be Inspired” list. It’s always a great gift to meet other writers and share our work and experiences. I loved hearing more about your novel. It sounds wonderful and I encourage you to consider indie publishing. Trad publishing is not the be all and end all and many good books find their own way after rejections pile up. Be not afraid! I’ve been to Liguria and can imagine how inspired you were during that week of writing (love that the trip was impulsive … the best kind!). The hanging of the village is gorgeous! Stephen King’s book is the first one I recommend when asked about writing advice too! Brilliant!


    • Thank you for all your encouraging words Patricia 🙂 and for being such an inspiration and supportive writer. You are right, we do need to be open to all manner of publishing today and I agree, just like writing a blog, sometimes its necessary to take a preliminary step to get work out there. I love watching how this is evolving and changing for the better for writers.

      Yes, that trip was amazing and I hope the writing the richer for it, I like to either draw from places I have been or create the experience, so much more authentic and inspires a deeper, richer language coming from me.


  9. Followed you from She Writes. Loved the description you gave of what you saw when in the Soho writing class and how you couldn’t get the guy out of your head. I could see why! And love the description of him with the cigarette and why he smokes.


  10. Pingback: novel answers and titbits « nellewrites

  11. Oooh, Claire. How nice to see this posted! And I love that your inspiration was fueled by ‘panic’ during your writing exercise. Isn’t that wonderful when characters just lodge themselves in our heads and won’t leave? Can’t help but love that you were also inspired by the stunning Ligurian coast. I look forward to being your future reader…


    • Thanks for being the catalyst Kimberly, the class I took was a good lesson to learn, not to give in to the feeling of having nothing to write, pushing it a little further always provokes something and I think for me it prised open a door that had been shut and forgotten about, and yes they are great companions those characters when we are able to indulge them.

      There’s something about that rocky coastline that resonates with me, I love its wild parts and the temperamentality of the sea which some days causes man to abandon his seafaring plans, in respect to nature.


  12. Hi Claire, I just received the Liebster blog award and would like to nominate your blog as one of my 5. The rules are as follows:
    the rules to the award:
    If you are nominated for the award and accept it, then you have won!
    Thank the person who nominated you by linking back to their blog.
    Nominate 5 blogs with less than 200 followers.
    Let the nominees know by leaving a comment on their blog.
    Add the award image to your site (use an image widget to place at bottom/side of blog).
    __So the question is IS: how many followers do you have? I suspect that it is more than 200!!1 But if for some strange reason it isn’t then let me know so I can nominate you! xxx


  13. What a treat to read about your novel . . . It is ironic (considering the writers/books you write about) that Stephen King plays an inspirational part), and, yet, I can’t say I’m surprised that ‘On Writing’ had the impact it did. As someone who recently finished a novel as well, I can only wish for you what I would wish for myself.


    • Thanks Deborah, I did read a little Stephen King when I was a teenager, but he uses his tools so effectively they left me wrecked; however precisely for that reason and because I know he is so disciplined and has persevered, I was curious to learn about his process. He is a master indeed.

      Good luck with your novel too Deborah and keep writing.


  14. Claire I’m absolutely fascinated by your book. It sounds like such an interesting read. Its even better being able to see where your inspiration came from and all the progress you’ve made from starting out to finishing it. For someone like me, its great to read about. Also I’m giggling to myself about what your have written about me…it’s fab. At this moment I wouldn’t really know what to write about my book as most of it is hush hush right now. Thanks ever so much for including me in this though, and I will definitely get back to this at some point. I’m curious to see what my answers would be. Oh and congratulations on the book Claire, someone will snap it up soon! 🙂


    • Thanks Jen and I’m happy you got the joke 🙂 it would be fun for you do the exercise just for yourself, I know some of the questions I hadn’t really considered before, but they are all good things to discover and seek out. Good luck with your novel and keep writing those stories.


  15. Pingback: Be inspired! « Patricia Sands' Blog

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