Throughout the month of April, I’m featuring fellow eXtasy Books/Devine Destinies authors. In the interview chair for today is author Kate Zarrelli who writes for the imprint Devine Destinies. She’s here to talk about her latest release Tuscon Enchantment, a contemporary romance.
Kate Zarrelli on Writing:
1. First, what’s your favourite scene in the book? Not in regards to writing, but reading, and why?
Kate: There’s a scene where the heroine, having gone back to England and made a different life for herself (not the one she really wanted) finds a photo feature in a gossip magazine of her former lover’s marriage, but realises that he is the only person there who isn’t smiling. Even in the depths of her own despair, her heart aches for the fact he is unhappy. This scene takes place when there are only about twenty pages left still to read, meaning the reader now expects quite a crescendo, an emotional roller-coaster before there can be any happy ending.
2. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Kate: Probably not. The back story is that this particular book was written quite a while ago, but the old floppy disk (I did say it was a while ago, didn’t I?) languished in a drawer for some years before being rediscovered and to quite a degree revised (though characters and basic plot remained more or less the same). I might not say ‘probably not’ had the book had a much shorter gestation.
3. Share a “side story” about the characters.
Kate: There’s nothing wrong with getting even, as a writer! Antonia’s love rival Giselle is based on a someone I knew as an undergrad. We weren’t love rivals but oh boy was she annoying! No, I’ve not sent her a copy!
4. If you could spend time with one character from your book, who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Kate: I would spend it with the hero’s feisty old aunt, Laura Quattromani. She’s based on a fantastic lady, sadly now passed, who worked for the Italian Institute in Prague. Laura and I would pass the day in the Quattromani library, and whilst she showed me the family’s priceless manuscripts she’d be telling me anecdotes of her illustrious and eccentric ancestors. The Quattromani family were inspired by an old noble family from the area of northern Tuscany where I now live. They built most of the castles.
5. Did the characters hijack the story or did you feel like you had control of your book?
Kate: I wouldn’t say they hijacked so much as gently guided the story. I was in charge of the plot, and felt pretty cruel when I had to divide them.
6. How did you come up with the title for your book?
Kate: I just can’t remember! It always was called that!
7. If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the leads?
Kate: Somebody really sweet looking would play Antonia. Perhaps Saoirse Ronan. For Lorenzo, Luca Marinelli.
8. If your book was a candle, what scent would it be and why?
Kate: Mimosa. It’s associated with weddings in Italy.
9. If your book had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Kate: Con te partirò (Andrea Bocelli sings it beautifully), more or less translated as ‘I will set out with you.’ For the singer, the woman he loves is his sun and moon, the person he will discover new horizons with, the person who brings light into his life.
10. If your book was a colour, what would it be and why?
Kate: That sage green which is the colour of the leaves of the olive tree, of which there are so many where the book is set.
11. What did you edit out of the book?
Kate: I tightened up the points of view, and ‘translated’ some narrative descriptions into dialogue. This is because I have learned a great deal as a writer in the years since I wrote the first version of the book.
12. What can we expect from you in the future?
Kate: I am preparing The Casanova Papers for publication with eXtasy. This is a three-flame novella set in Venice. A university professor and a young English teacher together curate an edition of Casanova’s memoirs, and start acting out his adventures. What could go wrong? I had so much fun writing this, and am really pleased it has been accepted by eXtasy.
All About Kate Zarrelli:
1. What is something unique/quirky about you?
Kate: I can say ‘Another beer, please,’ in Czech (and some other stuff). I also have some Romany vocabulary and some rude words in Welsh. I speak Italian fluently, but am having to work at my German.
2. What are some of your pet peeves?
Kate: Lazy people, or opinionated ones. I loathe racists and homophobes.
3. Where were you born/grew up at?
Kate: I was born in Carrickfergus, in County Antrim, (northern) Ireland. Because of the Troubles we went to live in Scotland, and after high school I lived and studied in different places across the UK, until moving to Italy.
4. Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Kate: Affectionate, obstinate, self-critical, sometimes vain.
5. Who is your hero and why?
Kate: The Austrian conscientious objector, Franz Jägerstätter. He refused to take the Hitler Oath and was guillotined, aged 36.
Kate Zarrelli on Reading:
1. What book do you think everyone should read?
Kate: Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, for the constancy of Gabriel Oak.
2. What do you think about the current publishing market?
Kate: I think there are many more opportunities for writers in some ways, especially with the growth of Indie publishing, and through technology the possibility to reach a wider market than ever, but there are also some pretty shark-infested waters to navigate, with some unscrupulous operators setting up as ‘experts’ pretending to help writers.
3. If you could have been the author of any of your fave books that you’ve read, which book would you choose and why?
Kate: Thinking of a recent novel, I might choose Jo Baker’s Longbourn. She takes Pride and Prejudice and tells the below-stairs story. Right through history, and in most literature, there is no voice given to servants and no attention given to the toughness of their lives. Baker takes us into that world convincingly.
4. Share your favourite character from a book that you’ve read, and why they are your fave.
Kate: The ‘whisky priest’ in Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory. In normal times, he’d not be considered much of a priest, but in extraordinary circumstances, he proves himself heroic. The Vatican put this book on the Index of prohibited books – they really missed the point of it.
5. On average, how much do you read every week?
Kate: Probably about fifteen to twenty hours. This will include research I am doing (I write historical novels too under a different name), books I am reviewing (for the Historical Novel Review) and novels I read for my own pleasure.
Title: Tuscan Enchantment
Author(s): Kate Zarrelli
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Heat Rating: 2
Publication Date: March 2019
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Book Length: 49,000 words
This was no cold marble—this was a man! Antonia goes to Tuscany to rebuild her life. The last thing she wants to do is fall in love, least of all with rich, arrogant, aristocratic Lorenzo.
Blurb: Librarian Antonia Gray has fled England for northern Tuscany after an unhappy love affair to work on the archive of a 17th century Italian explorer, a member of a centuries-old aristocratic family. There she meets his descendent, Lorenzo Quattromani, rich, arrogant, handsome—and engaged to the beautiful and ruthless Giselle. The last thing Antonia wants is to fall in love, least of all with someone so dangerous. His engagement, though, is not what it seems, and Lorenzo breaks down Antonia’s resistance. But Giselle has other ideas.
…she caught sight of him, lithe as an eel, gliding along under the surface of the water and she felt herself flame with longing for him. From what she could see as he sped through the water he was wearing just a pair of white trunks, which offset his bronzed flesh. Then he flipped over onto his back and she saw with surprise and shock not unmixed with pleasure that he was wearing nothing at all. Instinct made her look away just as he realised she was there. He turned over again and swam with an easy stroke towards her.
“Antonia! I didn’t mean to startle you. It’s just a habit I’ve got into up here on my own.”
He stood in the water at the side of the pool, the lower half of his body concealed, the water dripping from his raven black hair and running in rivulets down his chest.
“I thought you’d be ages yet – women so often are,” he said.
“Not this one!” she retorted, wishing he had not reminded her of his experience of other women, bust she did not have it in her heart to be angry for long. He did seem sincere in his explanation, and after all, she was a guest here.
“Please avert your eyes, and I’ll make myself decent,” he instructed her.
Antonia half wanted to say it’s too late now and throw caution to the winds, but instead she did as she was told. She heard the slap of his wet feet along the side of the pool as he went to get his trunks from over a chair, and then his voice calling, “All right, it’s safe to look now. The lion is muzzled!”
He approached her, smiling, and once more Antonia felt as overwhelmed by his beauty as she had been when they had first met. Now she could observe him more closely than ever, the broadness of his muscular shoulders, the taut hardness of his stomach, the strong sinews of his muscled, hairy legs. His hard work under Alessio’s guidance had honed his body until it was even more desirable than she had remembered it in the moonlight. Yet there was something naturally proportioned about his muscles–he looked that good because he worked hard, not because he worked out.
“Antonia,” he exclaimed, shattering her thoughts, “you’re looking at me as if you’ve never seen a man before!”
“Well, that is, I haven’t…well not exactly… I don’t mean…” she stuttered in embarrassment, aware she had gone very red.
Lorenzo looked at her with a serious expression now, as understanding slowly dawned on him. Then to her surprise it was his turn to flush gently, and when he spoke it was with a voice low and trembling with emotion and desire.
“Ah, Antonia, what a rare prize you are!” Then he turned abruptly away from her and slid back into the water.
“Well, aren’t you coming in, then?” he asked, his head bobbing up again, sleek and gleaming as an otter’s.
Kate Zarrelli is the Devine Destinies pen name of Katherine Mezzacappa. Kate is Irish but now lives in Carrara in Northern Tuscany, between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea, with her Italian husband and two teenage sons. She writes historical, erotic, feel-good and paranormal fiction, set all over Europe, and in her spare time volunteers with a used book charity of which she is a founder member. You can follow Kate on Facebook at Kate Zarrelli books or on Twitter @katmezzacappa.