Author of The Florentine Bridge, our current Weekend Read, chatted to the Better Reading team what inspired her book, her writing process, favourite character and her three tips to help you keep writing:
What was the inspiration behind your book?
In my early twenties, I spent several years living in Florence, Italy where I fell in love with the landscape and the Italian lifestyle. During those years, I kept extensive notes with observations about the setting and culture and nuances that came with living in a foreign country. At the time, I knew that I would one day draw on these notes to write a book but I didn’t know what that book would actually be until I sat down to write it. Florence is a city that is steeped in so much art culture that it felt right to create an artistic character, so that’s where I started—with the Tuscan setting, and a young Australian woman who was an aspiring artist that had lost her motivation to paint after having gone through a life-threatening illness.
How would you describe your writing style/process?
I think you could say I like writing to be led by the heart. I work a lot on allowing myself to trust all the elements of the story: the characters, the voice, the plot, and myself. I try to write with honesty on the page, without questioning things, and while this isn’t always easy, it’s what allows me to be surprised along the way and write in the most honest and true way.
What do you like to read?
I always have a book on the go and I’m mostly drawn to commercial and book club fiction. I love books that move me emotionally and keep me thinking about the characters and story long after I turn the last page. I also enjoy reading historical fiction that draws me deeply into another time and place.
How do you organise your books?
I have a couple of dedicated bookshelves in my writing room, and while I have an eReader, I love the experience of holding an actual paperback in my hands.
Who’s your favourite character in your latest book and why?
It’s so difficult to pick one character because I’m so fond of them all, but I’d have to probably say Mia. I wrote the story in first person from her perspective so felt very connected to her and found her strength inspiring. Writing in first person allowed me to deeply immerse myself into her world and empathise with her when she went through all that she did. Creating an artistic character like Mia also leant itself to bringing the setting and beauty of Italy to life in the book, since Mia sees the world through the eyes of an artist and notices all the details of her surroundings.
Who’s your favourite writer/what’s your favourite book?
I absolutely loved The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and hope that we one day might see another work from her. I also loved Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife and Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees.
I would like to spend more time doing…?
I adore travelling, so I would love to be able to spend more time exploring countries and cities I haven’t been to before, especially within Europe.
First and foremost I would say reading helps me, especially when I’m reading books with beautiful prose. I find that really inspiring. Getting outdoors and spending time in nature also helps my creative process as it clears my head. Meditation is another tool I use, as it helps me connect to myself by reaching a place of stillness and that helps get the words flowing.
What’s your favourite place to read a book?
I usually read in the evenings in bed which is great for winter reading because it’s nice and cosy, but I’d have to say my favourite place to read is outside in a park, under the shade of a tree or on a poolside lounge!
Where do you get your recommendations for books to read?
I’m always on the lookout for my next read. Many of my recommendations come from the online space—sites like Better Reading (I love the live monthly book club chats), but also Goodreads, Twitter and of course, word of mouth. One of my favourite things to do is visit bookstores and browse the shelves, so I’m often drawn to books I see in store, too
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