How do you define success?
Success is finishing a book. The fact that months of blood, sweat, tears and joy finally come together to create a work that others will hopefully enjoy reading gives me a huge sense of success. Of course, when I saw my book on the New York Times Bestseller list it gave me a fantastic high – I was effervescent with delight – and it represented commercial success in the eyes of others. But my own personal sense of success comes each time I write the words The End.
How do you celebrate the completion of a book?
Wine and lots of sleep. I am an insomniac when writing.
What do you hope readers will get from your book?
I want my readers to fall in love. To feel gripped intensely. I want them to be transported to a thrilling world that they have never experienced before. THE ITALIAN WIFE tells the story of Isabella, a young architect in Italy at a time when Mussolini was building five new towns as his vision for the future. This is something few people know about outside Italy, so I want my readers to relish learning something new and fascinating, at the same time as enjoying a compelling story of love, conflict and danger.
How many books in your TBR pile?
My TBR pile is as never-ending as my To Do pile. And growing.
Describe your book in five words.
Exciting, exotic, emotional, evocative, epic!
Where is your favourite spot to write?
In bed. Early in the morning before the concerns of the day squeeze their way into my head. And in the garden. I have a favourite magnolia tree that I sit under and a cheeky robin who shares my biscuits. I do have a study but I write by hand, so can work anywhere and have been known to write on trains, on a beach and even in a theatre when my deadline comes galloping into view.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
There are so many things I enjoy about being a writer. Publication day, the champers, the generous comradeship of other writers, the ability to hang out in my PJs all day, finding a good title, writing The End, and the pleasure of knowing when your words have touched someone’s heart. Just last week at a book signing someone said to me, “Your book got me through my operation in hospital”. Wonderful to hear. But best of the best is the joy when the words flow like silk – it’s right up there with man walking on the moon!
What was the hardest part about writing your book?
The hardest part? The deadline. My worst nightmare. In a race against the ever-ticking clock. Aaargh!
What is your favorite scene in your book?
Aw, that’s like asking me to choose between my children. But I will whisper quietly that I adored writing the scenes with Mussolini, the leader of Italy in 1932. It is always thrilling to create a larger-than-life character on the page and Benito Mussolini was certainly that. His confrontations with Isabella, my main character, crackled from my pen, especially the scene where he asks her to dance and she says no. I smile just thinking about those moments.
What makes your novel stand out from the crowd?
I try to give my readers something totally new that they have not experienced before, a setting or a moment in history that people are not familiar with. I want them to learn, as well as to enjoy.
Do your characters really talk to you?
Of course not, I’m not crazy! Not yet anyway. But they do talk to each other in my head and I hang around, listening in on their conversations. Even I am surprised by some of the things they come out with.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Take risks in your writing, don’t play safe.
How do you react to a bad review?
I make a voodoo doll of the reviewer. Nah, not really! But reviews are powerful tools. Authors need them. In this internet world, thousands of people read them every day, so I ask readers when writing a review to remember the good their words can do – but also the damage.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Write a story you feel passionate about. If you love it, so will your reader because your passion will shine through every word. And write every day if you can – the writing muscle needs constant exercise.
Do you write as you go, or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?
I do have a plan, but if I had a better one I would probably make my deadlines.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Always much longer than I think. Okay, in theory I am given a year by my publisher. But what with editing, proofing and research reading, I am always pushed up against my deadline. And don’t forget the lengthy research trip – well, when a book is set in Italy, someone gets landed with the chore of going out there to check out the local wine … whoops, I mean local history. It’s a tough life, this writing business.
How do you go about revising/editing?
Fast and furious. Red pen working hard. Glass of wine in hand. Deadline whizzing past my ear.
Isabella Berotti is an architect, helping to create showpieces that will reflect the glory of her country’s Fascist leaders. She is not a deeply political sort, but designing these buildings of grandiose beauty helps her forget about the pain she’s felt since her husband was murdered years ago. One of her greatest accomplishments is the clock tower in the town of Bellina, outside Rome.
But as she is admiring it one day, a woman approaches her, asking her to watch her ten-year-old daughter. Minutes later, to Isabella’s horror, the woman leaps to her death from that very clock tower.
There are photos of the woman right after the suicide, taken by Roberto Falco. A propaganda photographer for Il Duce, he is expected to show his nation in the most flattering light. But what Roberto and Isabella have seen reflects a more brutal reality, and in a place where everyone is watching and friends turn on friends to save themselves, their decision to take a closer look may be a dangerous mistake.
Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy of The Italian Wife to give away.
Giveaway open to residents of the US only.
Giveaway ends on October 30th
Winner will have 48 hours, from the time of notification to confirm their win or another winner will be chosen.
Kate Furnivall was raised in Penarth, a small seaside town in Wales. Her mother, whose own childhood was spent in Russia, China and India, discovered at an early age that the world around us is so volatile, that the only things of true value are those inside your head and your heart. These values Kate explores in The Russian Concubine.
Kate went to London University where she studied English and from there she went into publishing, writing material for a series of books on the canals of Britain. Then into advertising where she met her future husband, Norman. She travelled widely, giving her an insight into how different cultures function which was to prove invaluable when writing The Russian Concubine.
It was when her mother died in 2000 that Kate decided to write a book inspired by her mother's story. The Russian Concubine contains fictional characters and events, but Kate made use of the extraordinary situation that was her mother's childhood experience – that of two White Russian refugees, a mother and daughter, stuck without money or papers in an International Settlement in China.