As temperatures drop and the wet weather settles in, conditions are perfect for curling up in a comfy chair, in a warm room, with a book that transports the reader to another time and another place.
Australian novelist Vanessa Carnevale writes just such books, including bestseller The Florentine Bridge (HarperCollins Australia) and her new release, The Memories that Make Us (HQ Fiction) — also published in eBook format as The Memories of Us (HarperCollins Avon).
Vanessa is a life coach, and writes freelance articles that have been published online and in magazines and newspapers, including The Huffington Post, Elephant Journal, The Green Parent, Italy magazine, Muse magazine and more.
When she was in her twenties, Vanessa lived in Florence, Italy, where she met her husband. Although she’s based in Australia these days, she tries to go back to Italy whenever she can, and has hosted Your Beautiful Writing Life writing retreats in Tuscany, and with fellow Australian author Lisa Ireland, in rural Victoria.
It’s my great pleasure to welcome Vanessa as the latest Shelf Aware guest, and I recommend you find a comfy, warm spot to relax while you enjoy her responses to my questions — as well as her beautiful photos.
Q. Vanessa, how would you describe the work that you do and how you do it?
A. I write contemporary fiction that usually includes a love story. I do it by taking an idea, and sometimes it’s just a tiny thread of an idea that leads to something bigger. I sit down and listen to my heart and what my characters want to do on the page. And then I pretty much squeeze it in wherever I can, as often as I can!
Q. What can you tell us about your latest writing project/book release?
A. The Memories That Make Us is a story about a woman named Gracie who, after a car accident, is left unable to remember her past, including her fiancé, Blake, who she is supposed to be marrying in three months’ time. It’s a story of self-discovery, that speaks to the question: if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?
Q. Where are the main bookcases in your home or office? Do you also keep books in other places at home (or elsewhere)?
A. The main bookcase is in my study, but I also keep coffee table books on the coffee table to flip through whenever I have the chance to sit down for a break. There are also usually two or three books sitting on my bedside table at any given moment!
Q. How are your books organised/arranged?
A. There’s no proper system in place. I usually just line them up according to size and/or author. My kids have space in their rooms for their books so they’re kept separate to mine.
Q. What sorts of books predominate?
A. Predominantly fiction. I like reading both contemporary and historical fiction so there’s a good mix of both in there.
Q. Describe your favourite reading place.
A. For many years I wanted to put a day bed in my study and last year I finally got one and I absolutely love it. I use it as a reading nook, and it’s every bit as cosy as it looks. In summer, I also love reading outside on the sun lounge while the kids are swimming or playing outside. I also read every night before I go to sleep and that’s the place most of my reading happens.
Q. What book/s are you reading right now? Why did you choose that book/those books and what do you think of it/them so far?
A. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and I am loving it. I think it might become one of my favourite books of all time. I love books set during WW2 and this one is an incredible page-turner. I can’t put it down!
Q. What are your favourite books and/or who are your favourite authors?
A. The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and more recently, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. As a child, my favourites were Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Enid Blyton’s The Enchanted Wood series.
Q. In the event of an emergency, if you could save just three books from your collection, which books would they be – and why would you choose them?
A. Wow! That’s a tricky question. I’d probably try to grab my signed copies as they’re very special to me, and I’d also take along the tattered copy of The Language of Flowers which I found by chance in a second-hand bookstore when I started writing The Memories That Make Us. It happened to have a unique note written inside it about perseverance that I really liked (and needed to hear at the time). And of course my childhood copy of The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton. I adored (and devoured) her books as a child.
Q. If you could sit down for afternoon tea with your three favourite characters or authors, who would they be, what would you serve them, and what would like to talk to them about?
A. Hmm, maybe I’d take Beatrix Potter, Jane Austen and Enid Blyton out to lunch and talk to them about their books, their characters, and their inspiration!
Find out more about Vanessa at these links: