Hello Liz! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of Flirting with Italian. Can you tell us what it is about?
A: Thanks so much for inviting me to visit with you…… Flirting With Italian is Sarah Gratton’s story. She’s just broken up with her fiancé (he fell in love with someone else) and is picking up her life pretty much back where she was when she first graduated as a teacher. Starting over with ambitions she’d put on hold. Since travelling was top of the list she takes a job teaching at an international school in Rome. While she’s in Italy, she’s eager to find out what happened to the woman who saved her great-grandfather’s life during the war.
With Valentine’s day approaching, Flirting with Italian sounds like the perfect book to think about romance. Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing or did it develop before your eyes as the characters grew on the page?
A: I’m a punster rather than a plotter. My inspiration for this book came from hunting for my ancestors on Genes Reunited. I knew who my heroine was, knew she was going to Rome to find out what had happened to the woman who had saved her great-grandfather’s life during the war. But that wasn’t enough to sustain the story. She had to be doing something for herself. It was her great-grandfather – a feisty old guy – who suggested she needed a just-for-fun affair with a hot Italian lover to blow away the cobwebs of her lost love. Something to make her smile when she was old. The story grew from that.
You’re an established published writer: was this your dream while growing up? How did your first book deal come about?
A: I always wanted to write. As a kid I’d watch some great drama on the television and then go away and try to write something like it. Big ambitions, but sadly usually only a page or two to show for it. The dream didn’t go away, however, and eventually I started writing children’s stories for the BBC’s Listen With Mother, children’s picture papers and articles for magazines, but the book still called. It was an article about Charlotte Lamb and Anne Hampson in a national newspaper that drew me to romance and I knew I’d found my natural home.
Regardless of which of your previous novels won you the most awards (and you did win a lot!), is there any one in particular that are you fonder of?
A: As I look along the shelf, each of my books brings a little leap of pleasure, a warm memory about a hero or heroine I’ve particularly loved, but I have to say that of all of them I still want to just hug Matty Lang, the heroine of The Marriage Miracle.
She had made an appearance in an earlier book and nearly stole the show. I had to promise her a book of her own to make her behave, but honestly, I did not want to go there. I took me three years (and Matty’s continual nagging) before I found the courage to tackle a story I knew was going to stretch me until it hurt. She rewarded me with one of those very special, once in a lifetime books and earned herself a Rita® into the bargain. She also taught me a valuable lesson. To be fearless in my writing.
If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?
A: I’m just starting on the second story in what I hope will be a trilogy about the Amery sisters and their ice cream business Scoop!. Elle’s story, Tempted By Trouble, was published last year. Next up is Sorrel Amery – the sister who is going to be a millionaire by the time she’s twenty-five. She’s done her homework, knows all the moves and it’s all going swimmingly, but then someone throws a rock in the machine.
Due to the popularity of social networking websites, it seems that interacting with readers – be it via a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a blog etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?
A: It’s very easy to let FB, tweeting and chasing around the blogosphere eat into your writing day. I’ve just bought myself a timer to remind myself that half an hour is the limit. There is no point in having a great internet presence, everyone knowing your name, if you don’t get the books written.
What one fundamental piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
A: Just one? Write from the heart. Write what you want to read. Be honest. It will shine through.
And lastly, is there anything that you would like to share that I haven’t asked?
A: I have just distilled the essence of what I’ve learned in twenty years of publication into Liz Fielding’s Little Book of Writing Romance. It’s a hand in the dark for the aspiring writer, the book I wish I’d had when I started writing fiction. It would have saved me a lot of time.
You can follow Liz on Twitter and keep up-to-date with her latest news on her website.
And for a chance to win a copy of Flirting with Italian, click here and complete the form. The competition will close on the 20th February at 1pm.