Today, I have author Paolo G. Grossi in the interview chair. We’re discussing his latest release Serafino da Ferrara, an LGBTQ+ historical fiction.
1. Hi, Paolo. First off, readers have an idea of the writer you, but what about the everyday you? Can you share about your personal life?
Paolo: I live in London with my partner David who doubles as a wonderful editor and proofreader. Almost retired and keen to dedicate my free time to writing. I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle (notwithstanding our love for good wine!). We are both opera lovers which I think it reflects in my writing. We cycle everywhere!
2. I’ve been perusing your Goodreads page, and see that you are drawn to writing historical fiction. Can you share why?
Paolo: I was drawn to historical fiction after reading all of Mary Renault’s works. Hilary Mantel and Madeleine Miller are of course among my favourites too. I love the way you can mix real historical characters with fictional ones. You can make them do whatever you like and it’s fun for both writer and reader!
3. What do you think makes for a great historical fiction piece for readers?
Paolo: There has to be action, emotional involvement and a touch of (sometimes dark) humour. The characters have to be lively and credible. Historical accuracy is also very important for me. I don’t take well to poorly-researched stories.
4. Your latest novel is Serafino da Ferrara. Can you tell me what inspired you to write two timelines?
Paolo: I think that the way we live and love doesn’t really change much with time, though the world around us obviously does. Serafino and Parker go through very similar journeys and emotions, it’s only the settings which change.
5. Let’s talk about the main character Serafino. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Paolo: Serafino’s naivety, good heart and astonishing resilience in the face of constant mistreatment (verging on abuse) are his most endearing traits. His talent is so effortless but somehow it gets in the way of his desire to live like a normal teenager. He always does a he’s told and some of the characters in the book take advantage of his benevolence and kind spirit. He’s a good egg.
6. The same for Parker. What do you love most about him and what makes you want to shake him?
Paolo: Parker’s enthusiasm for life ad his solid affection for his family makes you want to hug him tight all the time. He’s never judgemental and accepts friends and foes’ characters in good spirit. He’s made of sunshine!
7. Without giving away any spoilers, what was your favourite scene to write and why?
Paolo: Parker’s backpacking journey of discovery at the end. When the two timelines somehow converge.
8. If a reader asked you why they should read Serafino da Ferrara, what would you tell them?
Paolo: Credible and colourful characters, a gripping story of love and talent. A romantic gay adventure through Renaissance Italy.
9. What are you currently working on? Can you share about your latest WIP?
Paolo: I’m half-way through another LGBTQ+ Historical Fiction novel, The Kaminsky Symphony. Here is a a draft blurb:
Milan, 1912. Maestro Mandelli di Castagnino is resident conductor at La Scala, having taken over from the legendary Toscanini.
Barely in his mid-thirties, he is revered and feted by the Milanese grand society. But once the baton is down and after leaving the last soirée in his honour, he returns to an empty home, surrounded only by his servants, hiding a parallel life, in fear of being uncovered.
Exhausted by such existence, he accepts a post as resident chief conductor at the Odessa Opera House, causing consternation among family and admirers.
He settles in the elegant coastal city, improving the performance of the orchestra and winning the approval and friendship of the locals.
He also finds love, but the continent is about to sleepwalk into the carnage of a futile war and Imperial Russia is on the cusp of being rocked by the October Revolution.
Unable to return to Italy and desperately wanting to protect his beloved from the savagery of the civil war, he is confronted with a desperate choice.
10. I enjoy doing random questions, so humour me:
- What’s your favourite movie?
Once Upon a Time in America by Sergio Leone.
- What book is currently in your e-reader?
Iron Gustav by Hans Fallada – A really excellent translation from German.
- Who’s your favourite musical group?
The Pet Shop Boys (It shows my age, I suppose).
- What song puts a smile on your face?
Your Funny Uncle by, well, The Pet Shop Boys!
11. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Paolo: Hope that Serafino da Ferrara will enjoy the same success of my first work, The Tiergarten Tales.
Title: Serafino da Ferrara
Author: Paolo G. Grossi
Genres: LGBTQ+ / Historical Fiction
Themes: Coming of age / Talent and Arts
Release Date: February 28, 2023
Length: 79 270 words/333 pages
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Publisher: The Conrad Press
Ferrara, 1505 AD.
Talented Serafino is apprenticed to Mastro Filargiro, one of the city’s leading artists.
Serafino finds love, but his mastery takes him on a perilous journey across Italy’s feuding city-states, unaware that his virtuosity is a threat to the pre-eminence of the hitherto unchallenged masters of the Renaissance.
His life must take a dramatic new turn in the hope of escaping their enmity.
Washington DC, 2008.
Parker’s first year at Georgetown High is coming to an end.
His father is appointed Consul General in Florence. Parker enthusiastically embraces his new life and befriends handsome Beppe.
But almost everyone around him has been keeping secrets. And the fifteenth-century palazzo where his family now lives unexpectedly reveals its long-buried mysteries.
Separated by five hundred years, yet united by their talent, Serafino and Parker embark on similar journeys of discovery while fellow artists, assassins, princes and envious classmates rage and scheme around them.
Note: It is a standalone book and does not end on a cliffhanger.
Available at Amazon, Waterstones, The Conrad Press and all major retailers.
Universal Link | Amazon US | Amazon UK
He hears the final bell. The school erupts, classroom doors slam open barely holding on to their hinges, the metallic noise of lockers being opened and shut again is deafening.
Summer break is here. A torrent of students regurgitates into the street causing an almighty traffic jam. SUVs with mothers or nannies at the wheel vie for space, right of way, and ultimately a not-too-subtle parade of the best four wheels in Georgetown.
This is no cheap suburbia, most of their husbands or employers are toiling at some desk or chairing important meetings at Foggy Bottom, on Capitol Hill or the White House. Most often all three.
Parker walks out of the front door with his hands in the tight pockets of his slacks and his rucksack on his shoulders. A few hugs with the girls and some high-fives with fellow boys ensue. His older brother is already waiting at the bike stand. When he gets there the high-five is followed by a manly hug.
‘Dude, summer break and birthday tomorrow. Lucky little bro.’
‘Bet you know what the old folks have got me.’
‘Sure I do.’
They start cycling. When Parker reached the age of fourteen, their parents went out and bought a cheap bike for his growing frame. The Hendersons’ pristine drive sports the standard two SUVs parked neatly by each other, yet their mother wasn’t fond of school runs. In their opinion he was still a bit too young to cycle all the way to school by himself but the city had finally built some decent bike lanes and Tommy was now seventeen so they made them promise to stick together on the journey.
Tommy, who finds cycling by himself rather dull – he’s not much of a loner, any activity has to involve other people – had gone out of his way to promise to look out for his little brother at traffic junctions.
They had also promised never to set off without their helmets, though Tommy had swiftly pointed out to Parker that “setting off” with them was not the same as “wearing them”. Parker, the more academic of the pair, had found the distinction clever though he had laughed while retorting that it was still cheating.
So when they are a couple of blocks away from home they stop, unlock their helmets from their rucksacks’ straps and don them before reaching the driveway. A few times Parker had remarked that one day they might get caught by their mother driving by.
He walks to the garage door to open it but he’s shouted down by Tommy who parades himself in front of it.
‘Off-limits until tomorrow, bro.’
A smiling Parker leaves his bike with his brother and heads for the kitchen door. Tommy has just narrowed down his guesses for his present. One doesn’t need a garage to hide a watch or a pair of trainers.
To his surprise he finds them both at home, sat at the kitchen table with two mugs of coffee in their hands. After kissing his mother on the cheek (Tommy is starting to cringe at that, but Parker still likes it. Tomorrow’s birthday might change that), he meets his father’s closed fist with his; they have gradually stopped hugging.
‘Why are you home?’ Parker’s face frowns in suspicion. ‘You’ve got the day off tomorrow, haven’t you, Dad?’
‘‘No worries. All free tomorrow. Left office early, not much to do at the moment. There might be a few changes in my career; new President, new direction.’
Paolo G. Grossi was born and raised in Milan. Thirty years ago he spent a weekend in London and decided to stay. Like most Italians, opera and the visual arts are his main passions. When not writing, you will surely find him attending a performance, visiting a museum and, of course, spending some time cycling in Berlin or around the Wannsee. He lives in London with his partner David.
Also by Paolo G. Grossi: The Tiergarten Tales
Follow Paolo: Website