Today I’m thrilled to feature one of my favourite authors, Rosanna Ley.
Rosanna is the published author of numerous short stories and features. She has also written nine novels published by Quercus and translated into thirteen different languages around the world. Her latest novel From Venice with Love is set in Prague, Lisbon, Italy and Dorset and came out in paperback yesterday.
Having worked as a creative writing tutor in various colleges and universities for over twenty years, Rosanna now runs her own writing retreats and holidays in the UK and in stunning locations in Europe.
Over to Rosanna
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Very hard to stick to just five…
The song to accompany my childhood would be ‘Strangers in the Night’ sung by Frank Sinatra, because I used to sing it with my mum when we were doing stuff around the house. It will always remind me of her.
For teenage years, something by The Rolling Stones, probably ‘Satisfaction’ because it’s a great dance track and the Stones always felt like quite a rebellious band. I was a bit of a rebel and I loved dancing, so that would be perfect.
For college years, I’m choosing a Joni Mitchell track from her album ‘Blue’ as she is one of my top lyric writers and I listened to her SO much at college. ‘A Case of You’ is my favourite track on the album. Joni’s songwriting was an accompaniment to my life for many, many years.
As was Leonard Cohen’s – another favourite songwriter. I have never found his songs depressing, rather soulful and uplifting… I would choose ‘Bird on a Wire’ because I love the lyrics and I can relate to it. When I was a teenager, I had a book of his poetry/ songs and I used to copy out my favourites and learn the words – I was quite sad in that way… I still love to listen to him now and appreciate the lyrics more than ever.
Moving into my twenties, my soundtrack would be ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Dire Straits; it sums up my view of romance in a way. I love romance, I love the dream, but I also have a cynical slant on it!
That’s the first five anyway….
List 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
I couldn’t live without books. You can lose yourself in a book and it can provide all the entertainment, education, interest and emotion you need.
I couldn’t live without pen and paper either because that is my creativity and my self-expression and I’m only really happy when I’m writing.
It would be very hard for me to live without the sea.
And without travel. I love visiting new places and re-visiting the places I love.
90% dark chocolate would also be a hard thing to live without.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Believe in yourself – you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.
Don’t be afraid to change your life if you need to. Quickly.
Foster your independence – sometimes you only have you to turn to.
Don’t marry in haste…
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
I began writing by writing poetry – pages and pages of teenage angst.
I edit everything at least a million times.
I am very solitary by nature.
I talk to myself constantly.
I often dance in the house alone.
Tell us 5 things you’d like to do or achieve.
I’d like to research my family tree.
I’d love to have a house in Italy…
I’d love to live close to all three of my kids (this is never going to happen)
I’d like to write a massive best-selling novel which is also critically acclaimed and then made into a film and a TV adaptation… (Then I could have a house in Italy)
I’d like to be at peace – with myself and the rest of the world.
Many thanks for sharing with us today Rosanna. Some lovely music memories for me, as someone who also remembers them. Great advice to a younger self, above all I think we could all do to believe in ourselves more – even as adults. Glad to discover a fellow dancer, the kitchen when I’m cooking with music on generally serves as my dance floor – it is a real joy to just lose yourself. If you need any help with that family tree, I worked as a Local Studies/Family History librarian during my library career. I’ve also since worked on mine, a word of warning it gets addictive! I really hope you get your house in Italy – ideally off the back off that massive best seller. And here’s to finding peace.
(NB book links are affiliate links)
From Venice with Love
With her marriage in danger of falling apart, Joanna returns home to the beautiful but dilapidated Mulberry Farm Cottage in rural Dorset, where her sister Harriet is struggling to keep the Farm afloat and cope with their eccentric mother.
When Joanna discovers a bundle of love letters in the attic, written by a watercolourist named Emmy, she is intrigued and sets out to discover Emmy’s true story. Emmy’s letters take Joanna to the picturesque alleyways and bridges of Lisbon, Prague, and the most romantic place of all: Venice – where a whole new magical world seems to unfold in front of her.
Meanwhile, back at Mulberry Farm Cottage, a mysterious prowler adds to Harriet’s problems and interrupts her search for a perfect partner. Will she ever find true love? Where will Emmy’s mesmerising pathway lead? And more importantly, will Joanna and Harriet be able to rescue the cottage and finally be able to re-discover their sisterly bond?
The Lemon Tree Hotel
A story about love, family secrets, and a little piece of heaven . . .
In the beautiful village of Vernazza, the Mazzone family have transformed an old convent overlooking the glamorous Italian Riviera into the elegant Lemon Tree Hotel. For Chiara, her daughter Elene and her granddaughter Isabella, the running of their hotel is the driving force in their lives.
One day, two unexpected guests check in. The first, Dante, is a face from Chiara’s past, but what exactly happened between them all those years ago, Elene wonders. Meanwhile, Isabella is preoccupied with the second guest, a mysterious young man who seems to know a lot about the history of the old convent and the people who live there. Isabella is determined to find out his true intentions and discover the secret past of the Lemon Tree Hotel.
Her Mother’s Secret
For many years Colette has avoided returning to her homeland – the magical island of Belle-Île-en-Mer in Southern Brittany – afraid to confront the painful memories she left behind. She is living on the Cornish coast when she hears about her mother Thea’s failing health and realises that the time has come for her to go home. But can Colette ever forgive Thea for what she has done?
Despite Colette’s wariness, romantic Belle-Île still fascinates her. She takes on the running of her mother’s flower shop and makes friends with Élodie from the Old Lighthouse where Thea once worked as a nanny and with the enigmatic Étienne who shares Colette’s mixed feelings about the island. As Thea opens up to her for the first time, Colette finds herself softening and being drawn back into the landscape of her past. But can Belle-Île also be a part of her future?
The ghosts of that past still linger. What happened all those years ago and how did it cause the rift between mother and daughter? It becomes clear that the beauty of Belle-Île hides a devastating family secret – one that Colette is determined to unravel at any cost.
The Little Theatre by the Sea
Faye has just completed her degree in interior design when she finds herself jobless and boyfriend-less. While debating what to do next she receives a surprise phone call from her old college friend Charlotte who now lives in Sardinia and is married to Italian hotelier, Fabio.
When Charlotte suggests that Faye relocate for a month to house-sit, Faye wonders if a summer break in sunny Sardinia might be the perfect way to recharge her batteries and think about her future.
But then Charlotte tells Faye that there’s something more behind the sudden invitation: her friends Marisa and Alessandro are looking for a designer to renovate a crumbling old theatre they own in the scenic village of Deriu.
The idea certainly sounds appealing to Faye, but little does she know what she’s letting herself in for if she accepts this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity . . .
The Last Dance in Havana
Cuba, 1958. Elisa is only sixteen years old when she meets Duardo and she knows he’s the love of her life from the moment they first dance the rumba together in downtown Havana. But Duardo is a rebel, determined to fight in Castro’s army, and Elisa is forced to leave behind her homeland and rebuild her life in distant England. But how can she stop longing for the warmth of Havana, when the music of the rumba still calls to her?
England, 2012. Grace has a troubled relationship with her father, whom she blames for her beloved mother’s untimely death. And this year more than ever she could do with a shoulderto cry on – Grace’s career is in flux, she isn’t sure she wants the baby her husband is so desperate to have and, worst of all, she’s begun to develop feelings for their best friend Theo. Theo is a Cuban born magician but even he can’t make Grace’s problems disappear. Is the passion Grace feels for Theo enough to risk her family’s happiness?
The Saffron Trail
After the death of her beloved mother, Nell travels from rural Cornwall to the colour and chaos of Marrakech. Her marriage may be on the rocks, but exploring the heady delights of Moroccan cuisine could help her fulfil her dream of opening her own restaurant.
It’s there she meets Amy – a young photographer trying to unravel the story behind her family’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The two women develop a close friendship and discover a surprising connection between their own pasts.
This connection will take Nell and Amy on a journey to find their own ‘saffron trail’ – from the labyrinthine medina and bustle of Moroccan bazaars all the way back home to Cornwall and to the heart of their families’ origins.
Return to Mandalay
Eva Gatsby has often wondered about her grandfather Lawrence’s past, and exactly what happened to him in Burma during the Second World War. But it is only when Eva’s job as an antiques dealer suddenly requires a trip to Mandalay that Lawrence finally breaks his silence and asks her to return a mysterious artefact of his own – a chinthe – to its rightful owner.
As Eva arrives in Burma her mission soon proves dangerously complicated, and the treasure she is guarding becomes the centre of a scandal that will have far-reaching consequences. Caught between loyalty and integrity, Eva is determined to find the truth about her grandfather’s past, of her own family origins, and of the red-eyed chinthe itself – enigmatic symbol of the riches of Mandalay.
Bay of Secrets
Following the wishes of her parents to keep her safe during the war, a young girl, Julia, enters a convent in Barcelona. Looking for a way to maintain her links to the outside world, she volunteers to help in a maternity clinic. But worrying adoption practices in the clinic force Sister Julia to decide how far she will go to help those placed in her care.
Six months after her parents’ shocking death, 34-year-old journalist and jazz enthusiast Ruby Rae has finally found the strength to pack away their possessions and sell the family home. But as she does so, she unearths a devastating secret that her parents, Vivien and Tom, had kept from her all her life.
When Tess Angel receives a solicitor’s letter inviting her to claim her inheritance – the Villa Sirena, perched on a clifftop in Sicily – she is stunned. Her only link to the island is through her mother, Flavia, who left Sicily during World War II and cut all contact with her family.
When Tess goes to Sicily, Flavia realises the secrets from her past are about to be revealed and decides to try to explain her actions. Meanwhile, Tess’ teenage daughter Ginny is stressed by college, by her blooming sexuality and filled with questions that she longs to ask her father, if only she knew where he was…
Coming in 2021 but available to pre-order
The Orange Grove
When Holly and her mother Ella travel to Seville to source products for Holly’s new shop, they find much more than they bargained for. Ella is transported back to the city where she was once forced to make the hardest decision of her life, while Holly meets someone who threatens to put all her plans in jeopardy. Ella must face up to the past she ran from and Holly must discover the truth for herself.
Seville is a city full of sunshine and oranges. But it can also be bitter-sweet. Can love survive the secrets of the orange grove?
You can follow Rosanna via