When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.
So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.
Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off…
SM: As I created it, I’ve been able to fill the menu up with all my favourite goodies and since there are no calories on ‘my’ menu I’d begin with Pizza Margarita — I love the basic pizza and rarely order one with additions. I’d follow up with gelato cioccolato (chocolate ice-cream). I’d also want a couple of large glasses of Orvieto Classico, an Umbrian wine that I’ve developed a real taste for. It’s especially good when drunk in Italy, of course.
I wouldn’t want to be served by Davide, because I don’t like the way he behaves with young female staff members. He’s protected by his status as son of the owner, Benedetta, but I’d express my disapproval of him by asking for Sofia or Amy to serve me instead.
MW: So as a big F1 fan, would you make the trip to Imola to enjoy the race?
SM: That would be awesome! I’d love to be on the start-finish straight and have the commentary (in English) on my headphones.
To be honest, I have borrowed a lot of names from F1 in the book. Sofia’s surname is Bianchi as a tribute to the late Jules Bianchi; Uncle Gianni and Benedetta Morbidelli come from Gianni Morbidelli; Freya’s maiden name is Williams as a nod to Williams Grand Prix; Amy’s surname is Webber for retired driver Mark Webber. Even Davide comes from Davide Valsecchi, who only made it as far as test and reserve driver in F1 but is now a commentator for Sky Italia. I should say, giving a name to a likeable or unlikeable character is not based on whether I like the F1 personality involved.
MW: Levi Gunn is riding across Europe to get to Montelibertà. Is that something you’d like to do?
SM: It’s something I’d certainly like to have done in the past. I used to work for Motor Cycle News in a part time capacity and members of the editorial staff often seemed to ride off to cover a European race. The nearest I got was to be sitting on the dock in Dover, a young mum in a sensible car, while a group of bikers whizzed up and down the dock looking cool (and probably getting on the nerves of other passengers.)
|The terrace at Arte Umbria, complete with Sue's laptop|
SM: I did at one time think my career would lie in art, but I didn’t make the grade. I just wanted Levi to paint the view from the terrace at Arte Umbria where I head up writing retreats. I wrote nearly a quarter of the first draft there last year and it was wonderful to be gazing at the view he was painting.
Levi’s a website developer in his day job, which is a painstaking occupation. I wanted to give him a chance to do something more free-flowing as a hobby. It also gave him an excuse to be in Montelibertà, because he needs one.
MW: How much do you identify with Sofia, with her taking a gap year (or two)? Would you have liked to do that, take off and explore Europe?
SM: Yes, I would. When I left college the gap year concept hadn’t really taken hold but I’m sure I would have loved it. I feel she was particularly due some ‘me time’ so gave her two years.
MW: What leads Sofia into this?
SM: She’s had a close relationship with her Italian father, Aldo. He looked after for half of her life and then she looked after him for the other, as his heart failed him. He asks six promises of her for when he’s gone - and one is to visit Montelibertà, where he was brought up. She’s to lay flowers for his parents and to say sorry to his brother, Gianni. As she doesn’t know what she’s apologising for, the latter gets a bit dicey.
Having chatted to seasonal workers at Arte Umbria over the years I thought it would be great for her to work in Il Giardino, as she’s been stuck indoors with Aldo for so much of her time. Unfortunately, her employer, Benedetta, has her own ideas where Sofia will be most use.
MW: In typical fashion, you address a serious topic with the novel, in this case homelessness. I liked that Amy, one of the lead characters, collects McDonald’s free drinks stickers to give to the homeless.
SM: I do this myself. The gym I attend is next door to a McDonald’s, and I often have a cup of tea before or after a class. Each hot drink cup has a card to tear off, and a coffee bean sticker. When you’ve filled a card with beans (six) you can go into a McDonald’s and exchange it for a regular-sized hot drink. Rather than take advantage of it myself I often give these completed cards to street people so they can get a cuppa next time they’re near a McDonald’s.
Unlike Amy, I don’t go so far as to go through the recycling bin in search of coffee beans that others have left behind!
SM: I’d been to a vineyard a couple of times when I’d visited Arte Umbria. Last year they were organising a trip to a vineyard I hadn’t visited so I joined the party. Stefano, our guide and one of the owners of the winery, answered several of my questions about Italian wine in general and Orvieto Classico in particular. It’s because of him that Sofia knows about different nationalities having different palates and that white wine shouldn’t actually be served cold. (This has not stopped me drinking white wine cold because that’s how I like it.)
MW: Levi runs the Moron Forum. As we’re both seasoned social media users, where did you find the inspiration for this forum?
SM: My son. We were discussing discussion forums and, to illustrate a point about keyboard warriors he began a sentence with, ‘If I owned, say, The Moron Forum …’ I thought it was a real thing. When I discovered he’d just said it off the top of his head I asked if I could use the name. It’s a satirical and humorous forum that has earned Levi, the hero, quite a bit of money. I needed help with research and my own web guy, Neil Hesman of The Village Websmith, was kind enough to give me the information I needed. It’s one of those cases where I needed to do a lot of research but not that much of it shows in the book.
MW: Last summer’s book, Just for the Holidays, is based in Alsace; One Summer In Italy is in Italy, where would you like to go - in a literary fashion - next?
SM: The jury’s out. I keep thinking of Greece, but I think my next summer book is going to take place in a tiny village on the coast of Norfolk. It’s ages since my characters spent a summer in England.
Thanks for inviting me onto your blog, Mark. As ever, it has been a pleasure.
Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary, and has been nominated for several other awards, including the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards.
Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared around the world.
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/SueMoorcroftAuthor
Amazon author page: Author.to/SueMoorcroft