I haven’t checked in for several weeks, so I thought I’d catch up with you. Lockdown has given me plenty to lock into, if you’ll forgive the overuse of the verb.
I needed to finish a new book and send the first version off to my editor by September 1st. I can’t give too much away but it is another World War 2 novel, set in a different area of Tuscany and, a departure from the Starnucci family featured in my first three Tuscan novels. We will leave them to live their lives unobserved and in peace for a while, poor characters 😉 I have had a couple of reviews asking me to continue the story of Alfie and Alba and I am considering that request. I love it when readers believe in the characters and want them to continue living. Job done for an author…
I was so excited to have a couple of days off but my brain wouldn’t stop buzzing. The mist that greeted us as we drove down the mountain to our main city of Sansepolcro was a kind of metaphor: I’d sent off my work and, blanketed with doubts and lack of confidence, I couldn’t imagine how my editor would receive it. How were my words faring now that I had thrown them into the clouds and I couldn’t touch them?
In the city we came across a little exhibition of clothes and family heirlooms which reminded me of a couple of scenes from the book that I had sent off. There was an outfit that one of my characters could have worn and a pair of baby’s booties that could have belonged to another.
I couldn’t switch off. When you’ve spent months writing each day and living in a world that you have created, it’s hard to step away.
On the following day, my mind still didn’t rest. My husband and I took a picnic with us to explore the river bed. We met nobody else and each bend we rounded threw up more surprises: unusual rock formations, waterfalls, dragonflies, the sounds of the river like musical notes gurgling over stones and pools deep enough to plunge into. I had forgotten my costume but had to jump in and skinny dip in the refreshing water. What would we come across around the next bend, behind the next rocks? How would I start off my next book that Bookouture have commissioned? Would my editor cut much of the book I had sent? Would I be able to develop the ideas for my next novel? Whir, whir, whir went my brain.
On the final stretch back to our home here in Tuscany, we walked along higher terrain and came across a flock of sheep. Sadly, this is a sight that we seldom see in our area. The number of wolves that were reintroduced is spiralling out of control are and farmers cannot cope with the threat. Last week, a calf and its mother were taken in broad daylight by a pack.
The flock reminded me that on September 7th, one of my indie books is being republished by Bookouture. It used to have the title of Now and Then in Tuscany. The revised version is A Tuscan Memory. https://amzn.to/2ZVOQ5B It took me more than seven years to complete as it entailed lots of local research.
For centuries, the annual trek from the mountains down to the Tuscan coast in the Maremma region used to take place for our local inhabitants. Shepherds and herdsmen walked with their animals over ten days each September to better pastures. They stayed away for five months. This is the inspiration behind this book. It was fascinating to delve into this practice, find out what happened during those months of separation from the family, to talk to elderly local folk who used to take part… and to imagine what may have happened too. I hope that readers will enjoy this book, which is quite different from my war novels.
Here are some photos I took seven years ago when the idea for the book came about and I walked twenty seven miles of the shepherds’ route to visualise what they might have experienced.
You can buy A Tuscan Memory from this link: https://amzn.to/2ZVOQ5B