Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Italy, but my writing hasn't been influenced by my country, since I never set any of my stories in Italy. I've always had a thing for Ireland (I keep saying I was born in the wrong country!), so most of my early fanfiction and short stories were set in Ireland. Even now, I tend to set my novels in Ireland or at least to somehow have a connection with the country I love so much. I also love the US, and I dream about visiting New York as well as other places in the States, so my novels are a mix of Irish and American culture - written by an Italian!
When did you first start writing?
Writing has always come easily for me. Essays were my favorite homework at school, although I never thought I would be pursuing a writing career one day. I started writing fanfiction as a teenager, just for fun, and nobody ever got to read anything I wrote: I was too shy to show my stories to other people and I was afraid they'd laugh at me, so I always kept them locked inside my bedside table. As I grew older and got over the "boyband craze" phase, my writing evolved into something a little more mature, something that I could eventually think about having published if I wanted to. It was only in 2009 that I decided to seriously think about writing a full-length novel and I found the guts to start thinking about becoming a published writer.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I tried going down the traditional route. I checked websites of UK and US agents, I revised their submission policies, I sent out my queries and the first few pages as requested. But after the first four or five rejections, I realized this was going to be the hard route, also because I understood my limitations (an Italian, writing in English and trying to break into the American book market wasn't going to be as easy as it would be for an American writing living there and meeting agents at conferences and events). At some point I thought I didn't want to wait anymore; I've never been a patient type and my self-confidence was decreasing fast with each passing day. So I discovered the indie route and I thought: why not? The worst that could happen would be that nobody would buy my book, but what did I have to lose at this stage? So I did it, I self-published and, although I'm sure that the traditional route has its perks, I do enjoy the indie one, where I can decide what to write, when to publish and all the little things that would be taken care of by an agent or a publisher. Not to mention, I've met some amazing and talented people in the indie world.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, A Christmas Melody is a short sequel to my debut novel, The Melody In Our Hearts. When I wrote the first book, I never meant to write a series, but when I came up with the idea of writing a Christmas novella, I felt the characters in The Melody In Our Hearts still had a story to tell so I turned the sequel to their story into a Christmas novella (technically, with 41k words it should be considered a novel but since the project started out as a novella, I decided to consider it a novella). It's about their dream wedding on Christmas eve in their Irish hometown, Dublin. After leaving the American dream in Boston for twelve years, celebrating their wedding in the Christmas atmosphere of their hometown will make them question their choices. I really love Christmas so writing a Christmas story was something I knew I would be doing one day. I didn't expect it to be so soon, since I had just published my second novel in July, but I can't seem to be able to not write. Once I get an idea in my mind, I have to write it down, and soon the novella was ready for the editor. I even managed to spend a few days in Dublin at the end of November last year, so I got to experience the wonderful Christmas atmosphere in the beautiful Irish city. It's magical and sweet, just like the story in my novella.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I'm a sucker for happy endings. I always have to get my Happy Ever After in a book in order to really enjoy it. But as a person with great imagination (you could say a daydreamer) and a hopeless romantic, I've quickly learnt that getting a Happy Ever After in real life is very hard, if not impossible. So when reality started to hit, I simply decided to write my own happy endings and this is the best thing about writing for myself. I don't really write because I want to sell-if you read my books you'll quickly realize they're not your average angsty or steamy novels, the ones that are so popular right now; I simply write what I want to read. I write about fragile, and at times even insecure heroines, who manage to turn into strong women by the end of the story. I write about heroes who are not only charming and manly, but who can be sweet and romantic, too. Let's face it: Life is hard and reality hits like a punch in the gut most ot the time. Writing for myself allows me to escape from it all for a while and lose myself in a world where things go the way I want them to, and where I can always get my happy ending. No matter what.
What is your writing process?
I wish I had one: It would make things so much easier! I wish I could simply sit down, start outlining a novel and then write each chapter according to the plot, like any diligent writer would do. Instead, an idea pops into my mind (a character, a scene, a dialogue, it can be anything) and I start thinking about how I could turn it into a full-length novel. I start jotting down ideas and scenes as they play in my mind and after a while I start putting them together like pieces in a puzzle. Which means that I then have to fix things to make sure it all makes sense. I do try to follow a plot when I first start writing a new story, but when a scene starts playing in my mind I simply have to write it down, no matter if it happens later than the scene I am currently working on.
What are you working on next?
I'm getting ready to publish my fourth book, sometime in June 2014. It's the story of a wealthy girl from New York who needs to escape from her life for a while and she books a holiday on a whim to a ranch in Wyoming. While she's enjoying her unusual country vacation, she's having trouble getting along with the owners' son, who can't stand having her around. But things will change before the holiday is through... Stay tuned for Hold On To Love.
Who are your favorite authors?
My all-time favorite authors, and the ones who helped me understand I wanted to be a writer, are Rosamunde Pilcher, Maeve Binchy and Nicholas Sparks. I also like Sophie Kinsella and Ali McNamara, in the chick-lit genre, as well as Melissa Hill and Cecelia Ahern (I have a thing for Irish writers!). After discovering the indie world, I've also started enjoying books by other indie authors, and so far my favorite indie authors are Priscilla Glenn and Sophie Moss. Which proves my theory that you don't necessarily have to have an agent and a six-figure publishing contract to be a talented writer and write good books.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading! I'm a real bookworm and if I were stuck on an island the one thing I could never live without would be books (or my Kindle-although I still prefer paperback books, I guess it'd be easier to have my Kindle with me!) Apart from that, I'm also a very creative person and I have lots of hobbies: I like decorating ceramic, creating jewellery with beads and pearls, knitting, making Christmas decorations. I also like learning new languages; I've started French, Portuguese and Russian so far-I only wish I had more time to do everything!
Describe your desk
My desk is a mess most of the time. I could blame it to the fact that I'm an artist and artists don't have time for tidying up, but I guess that would be cheating. Right now it's a little tidier, because I went on a cleaning spree this morning so I tidied up everything. I have a hard time keeping it this way, though. I'm always too busy doing something else and I end up dropping stuff on the desk saying "I'll put it away later" but then later turns into days. If I look at it right now there's my Kindle in its handmade protective cover (made by Yours Truly), my phone, my computer (obviously), a folder with the French course, the "boyzone tour 1996" mug which I use as penholder, a box of tissues, a Guinness bottle cap, a shell I picked up on an Irish beach during my latest holiday, an Irish magazine and a wordsearch magazine I bought during that same holiday, and a book on how to write romance. Oh, and a picture book of Irish landscapes I got as a birthday present from my friend, for which I still haven't found a place in my bookcase (there's no space left!). This is as tidy at it will ever be, but it's much better than it was this morning, believe me!
If you could live in a book, which one would it be?
I'd like to say it would be nice to live in one of the books by Nicholas Sparks, because North Carolina sounds like a wonderful place to be, and his male characters are always quite handsome. But since my love for Ireland runs deep in my veins, I'd like to live either in Breakfast at Darcy's by Ali McNamara or in one of the Selkie Trilogy books by Sophie Moss, because they're set on a remote island off the coast of Ireland, with only a few residents and lots of nature, beautiful landscapes, sheep and cows. And no other sounds but the waves crashing. It would be ideal for a full-time writer!
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