My Friday Reads this week is Rome for the Summer by popular romance author, Lynne Shelby, which will be published on the 23rd June by Headline. Doesn’t the cover look gorgeous? Let’s find out a little more about the book then get chatting to Lynne.😊
Kate Harper has always loved the painting that has hung in her parents’ dining room for years, never suspecting that it is worth a fortune. When her art dealer boyfriend cheats her family out of the proceeds of the painting’s sale, she is left devastated and alone.
Kate discovers that two hundred years ago, the girl in the painting, Charlotte Browne, ran off to Rome with the artist who painted her portrait, but her eventual fate is unknown.
Hoping to uncover the mystery of what happened to Charlotte, Kate seizes the chance of a summer job in Rome, where she strikes up a friendship with Jamie Taylor, an English artist. As they explore the city and start to piece together the surprising secrets of Charlotte’s life, Kate finds herself wondering if a summer in Rome can mend a broken heart…
And, just to whet your appetite, here’s a short extract:
It is Kate’s first day in Rome, and she has just arrived at the English House, a museum where she has a summer job as a guide.
I was trying to decide whether it was too early for me to knock, when the door swung open and a young woman, maybe a couple of years older than me, stepped out. With a mass of dark curls falling half-way down her back and a curvaceous figure, I’d have described her as beautiful if it wasn’t for the scowl marring her face. As I watched, she turned and shouted angrily in Italian through the doorway, swept past me – so close that I had to jump back or she’d have bowled me over – and stalked off across the piazza, vanishing into the crowds. An instant later, a guy, roughly the same age as the woman, appeared in the open doorway, his face glowering and unshaven, his very dark hair sticking up as if he’d just got out of bed. Both the black T-shirt and the denim shorts he was wearing were liberally splattered with paint.
‘Lucia –’ he shouted, his gaze rapidly scanning the piazza, until it came to rest on me. ‘Vuoi visitare la Casa Inglese? he said, with a frown. ‘Are you wanting to visit the English House?’
‘I’m –’ I began.
‘We don’t open until ten,’ he snapped, interrupting me. ‘You can book a guided tour on-line.’
‘Oh, no, I’m –’ Before I could explain that I wasn’t in fact a tourist but a new employee, he’d gone inside the house and slammed the door. If I hadn’t realised that I’d inadvertently managed to barge into the middle of someone else’s drama, likely a lovers’ tiff, I’d have been more than a little annoyed. As it was, I stood staring up at the house, unsure what to do next. Doubting that my knocking would bring the guy back until the appointed hour for opening the house to the public – and not wanting to irritate or get off on the wrong foot with someone who, it seemed, was one of my future co-workers – I retreated to the centre of the square. A brief consultation of my guide book reminded me that the Piazza di Spagna was the site of the famous Spanish Steps, which seemed as good a place as any to while away the next half hour.
Heading towards the point in the piazza where the crowds were thickest, I came to a broad, sweeping, white stone stairway that ascended up a steep slope in a series of terraces, with a fountain at its foot – La Barcaccia, according to my guide book, and designed to look like a sinking boat – and a church, gleaming white against the clear blue sky, at its top. Skirting past the cluster of tourists blocking my view of the fountain, and picking my way carefully through the people sprawled on the steps – couples taking photographs and chatting in a variety of languages, a group of back-packers – I climbed up as far as the first terrace and sat down on the sun-warmed stone. From here, I could see that the fountain was indeed shaped like a boat with water leaking from its sides, which made me smile. I took a panoramic photo of the piazza on my phone, and then, because I still had half an hour or so before I could go back to the English House, pushed my sunglasses onto the top of my head, fished my sketchbook out of my bag and, resting it on my knees, started to draw the scene in front of me, surprised at how natural it felt to hold a pencil after such a long time – and relieved that the cut on my hand had left me with no lasting damage other than a vivid scar across my palm. I was quite pleased with the way the fountain turned out, although when I attempted to draw the people gathered around it, I soon remembered the limitations of my artistic ability.
A shadow fell across my sketchbook, and a male voice said . . .
Oh my goodness, what an intriguing point to finish on! If, like me, you’re dying to know what happens next you can buy the book here:
Buy Link: smarturl.it/RFTSLS
Welcome to my blog, Lynne. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember time when I wasn’t writing stories, and I was a young teenager when I decided I wanted to be an author. I first submitted a manuscript to a publisher when I was fourteen – it was an adventure story about four teenagers who discover a mysterious island and would probably be described as YA these days. The publisher didn’t publish it, but a kind editor wrote me a lovely letter encouraging me to keep on writing, and saying she thought I had talent. I’m so glad I took her advice!
What do you like writing most?
I’ve written stories in a variety of genres, but roughly ten years ago I ‘discovered’ romantic fiction, and realised that this was what I wanted to write. So far my books have been contemporary romance/women’s fiction, but in my latest novel, Rome For The Summer, events of two hundred years ago have a direct bearing on the plot, and it has made me think I would like to write a dual-timeline novel at some point.
Do you have a special place for writing?
When my now-adult children were young, I wrote anywhere, including the proverbial kitchen table, but when my eldest daughter moved into her own flat, I took over her bedroom as my writing room. I do like having my own space to write in, with my own desk, book-lined shelves, and a notice-board for post-it notes on which I’ve jotted down things I need to add to my manuscript after the first draft is done or facts I need to check – very often by the time I’ve written the final draft of a novel, the post-it notes have over-flowed from the notice board to the walls.
Are you a pantster or a plotter?
I’m a bit of both. When I start writing a novel, I know the beginning and the end, but I have very little idea of what’s going to happen in the middle. Fortunately my characters know more about the plots of my books than I do, and they tend to get the story going, often in directions I wouldn’t have imagined before I started writing! About two-thirds of the way through, I like to start tying up the various strands of the plot, and it’s then that I plan the rest of the book, chapter by chapter.
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
My books are only inspired by my family in that I have a number of relatives who work in theatre and the film industry and I’ve set several novels in that world. I find I get most of my ideas for books from overheard conversations on buses and trains.
What are you writing at the moment?
I’m planning a novel set in Venice, but at the moment it’s only at the research stage.
What time of the day do you write best?
I can and do write at any time of the day, but I find that I write best and end up with a higher word-count if I write in the morning. Sometimes, if my writing is going really well, I forget to have lunch and carry on writing into the afternoon, but I usually stop writing fiction around one o’clock, even if I do writing-related things like research in the afternoon. Of course, if I have a looming deadline, I may write all day!
What advice would you give to other writers?
I’d pass on the advice that was given to me: when you are writing a book, write every day if you can, even if it’s only for five minutes, as this will help to keep your story flowing in your mind. There again, if other commitments mean you can’t write every day, don’t beat yourself up. Writers do need to get up from their laptops and go out and about in the world or they wouldn’t have anything to write about!
Fabulous advice, Lynne, and a really interesting interview. Thanks for dropping by to talk to us.
Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance. Her debut novel, ‘French Kissing,’ now re-published in ebook as ‘Meet Me In Paris,’ won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition. Her fifth novel, ‘Love On Location’, was shortlisted for a Romantic Novelists’ Award. She has done a variety of jobs from stable girl to child actor’s chaperone to legal administrator, but now writes full time. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city, writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.
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