I’m so pleased to be featuring Sue Moorcroft today. You’ll know I’m a big fan of hers if you are a regular reader of the blog. I’ll be reviewing her latest book Under The Italian Sun next week, just after its publication. One thing you are guaranteed with her books is some escapism – something we are all longing for right now. Books have certainly been a great escape from reality for me for the past year and more! But how do you research locations when you have to ‘stay at home’? That’s what I asked Sue and here’s what she had to say.
Books Mean Escape
Since I first learned to read, books have meant escape. Even before that, in fact, as Mum used to read to me every night. I still remember Noddy advising people to get out of his way because his car was in a terrible hurry that day and that Brer Rabbit was born and raised in a briar patch. The reading of books has taken me to places I’ve never been and in periods I have no way of experiencing. They’ve made me smile, fall in love, feel hate, cry … and they made me want to be an author.
It’s been a huge delight to me that writing has provided the perfect excuse to travel. Sometimes it’s within the UK (A Summer to Remember, Norfolk) or abroad (Christmas Wishes, Sweden; Summer on a Sunny Island, Malta; Let it Snow, Switzerland; Just for the Holidays, France). I compile a library of research photos to consult once home, I write notes and collect newspapers, timetables, programmes and maps. I love maps and Google is not the same. I meet people and interview, them, too. I always get their email addresses or connect on social media so I can ask a load of brainless questions afterwards. People are incredibly kind to me in this way and rarely ignore me. If they curse me, it’s never in my hearing.
As we’re currently tightly restricted by the Covid-19 pandemic it was good luck that the book I was scheduled to be writing from April 2020 was Under the Italian Sun, which will be published on May 13th 2021. Even more luckily, it was to be set in the fictitious town of Montelibertà, where I’d already set One Summer in Italy. I’d visited the region, Umbria, for seven consecutive years to run courses and writing retreats. In that time I’d amassed a larger-than-usual library of photos and a host of personal memories. Phew! I know a lot of authors never visit the countries they write about but I don’t think I could do my best work if I haven’t walked the roads and eaten the food and just soaked up the feel of a place. (This is not an excuse to indulge in wonderful trips, it’s an honest-to-goodness-reason! Seriously. Even the taxman thinks so.) And I know a lovely Italian lady, mia amica Isabella, who so kindly answered a stream of emails about Italy, read the manuscript and sorted out the Italian phrases.
While the world closed down around me, I could still wander off – via my imagination – to the Apennine Mountains. I could take my characters to vineyards and pretty towns, to lunch on sunny piazzas and visit historic cities like Perugia and Orvieto. Browsing my photo library took me back to Umbrian sunsets, up cobbled streets to the sound of church bells, to newly admire wonderful views and to remember the crisp taste of Orvieto Classico at the vineyards. I think that when I allowed my heroine, Zia, to move into the little apartment at the side of Lucia and Durante’s property, Buena Vista, I was indulging my wish to do the same. Wow, to begin every day by stepping out onto a sun-lit terrace overlooking a vineyard, the lavender-covered mountains crowding behind! To end the days under a watercolour sunset. If I could have traded places with her, I would.
But, no, I couldn’t visit Italy, this year. Writing about it was the next best thing.
If you’d like to join Zia for a glorious summer in Italy as she searches for her absent father and learns who her mother was, discovering, along the way, a man called Piero who’s fighting to keep his home, you can order Under the Italian Sun here.
About the Author
Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle UK as well as top 100 in the US. She’s won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Sue’s emotionally compelling, feel-good novels are currently released by publishing giant HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by other publishers in other countries. Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared around the world.
Born in Germany into an army family, Sue spent much of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta but settled in Northamptonshire, England aged ten. She loves reading, Formula 1, travel, time spent with friends, dance exercise and yoga.
From the back of the book
A warm, sun-baked terrace.
The rustle of verdant green vines.
The sun slowly dipping behind the Umbrian mountains.
And the chink of wine glasses as the first cork of the evening is popped…
Welcome to Italy. A place that holds the answer to Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers’ many questions. Not least, how she ended up with such a mouthful of a name.
When Zia discovers that her mother wasn’t who she thought she was, she realises the time has come to search out the Italian family she’s never known.
However, as she delves into the secrets of her past, she doesn’t bargain on having to think about her future too. But with local vineyard owner, Piero, living next door, Zia knows she has a serious distraction who may prove difficult to ignore…
This summer, join Zia as she sets out to uncover her past. But can she find the future she’s always dreamed of along the way?