Today is paperback publication day for Rosanna Ley's latest novel The Lemon Tree Hotel and it's my absolute pleasure to invite her back to the blog to join in the celebrations.
Hi Rosanna and welcome back to the blog. It's been a few years since you last visited us so can you give readers a quick recap/intro to yourself and your writing journey.
Thank you! My novels are published by Quercus and you can find more information about me on my website: rosannaley.com
I write books that focus on relationships and character journeys with a hefty dollop of delicious destination thrown in. There’s often a bit of history and a bit of mystery but basically I’m most interested in what makes people tick. I enjoy travelling to different places and exploring new cultures and love writing about these in my novels.
Your latest book is The Lemon Tree Hotel and centres around the Mazzone family and their boutique hotel, can you give us a brief introduction to them?
The hotel is an old convent – which has a fascinating history and a secret past - that has been restored by Chiara’s parents. Chiara runs The Lemon Tree Hotel with her daughter Elene who is the chef and her granddaughter Isabella who works front of house as manager. It is an elegant and much-loved characterful hotel with a great focus on peace, tranquillity and excellent cuisine. (Sounds perfect, huh?!) These three strong women however, have very different ideas on how The Lemon Tree should be run. Add to this the marital dynamics and the arrival of two guests who have very unexpected agendas, and the family tension rises…
When starting to plan your books which comes first, characters, location or the plot? And how much research do you do before you start the writing process?
Sometimes it’s the characters, sometimes the plot, sometimes theme, sometimes location that’s the beginning point. For The Lemon Tree Hotel it was location because the cinque terre area on the Italian Riviera means a lot to me and I wanted to write about it. I also wanted to write about a hotel, so this was the perfect location.
I do a lot of research about the setting – not only the place, but the culture and history. I like to read around books that feature the same location; they may be contemporary or historical. A lot of research nowadays is done online of course – but there are many other areas of research better served by reading or talking to experts in the field. Some food research was also required for Lemon Tree – this was the best bit, naturally…
Your books have taken readers all over the globe, do you have a bucket list of destinations that you hope to travel to in the future, either in person or as a future setting for one of your novels?
I don’t really have a list. There are a few places I would love to visit, but what happens with my books is that places come on to my radar for some other reason. Perhaps they fit with a theme that has been on my mind, perhaps a friend has visited and talked about them, perhaps I hear an article on the radio or watch a documentary on TV. After a while, something makes me realize that this is the place I am going to travel to for my next novel. It can be a random thing; I like to think that sometimes it’s not entirely my decision.
If you could swap lives with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
Hmm – that’s an interesting one! I don’t really want to swap lives, but part of me would love to live in Italy and I would certainly (if it existed) love to spend lots of time in The Lemon Tree Hotel!
If one of your books was to be made into a TV series or film, which would you like to see come to life on screen?
Oh my goodness! Great question… I think Last Dance in Havana because Cuba is such a fascinating setting, I would hugely enjoy the drama and emotion of the dance sequences and I would love to speculate on who might play the gorgeous Theo…
What would you say is the best thing about writing? And on the flip side what is the hardest?
And another goodie… Many people (not writers) assume it’s the dream job. And it is fabulous to get to travel, to create another world on the page, to see your words in print. It’s so exciting in many ways.
But there is a flip side, as you say. For me the hardest parts are the pressure of coming up with another story that will work in all the ways it needs to work, getting to grips with the complex structure of a novel (it is a craft that has to be learnt and practised like any other), and writing when it’s the last thing you want to do. As a working writer you can’t sit around waiting for inspiration, it has to be treated as a job to do and you have to be self-disciplined and just get on with it!
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.