I’m delighted to welcome Lynne Shelby to my blog for a chat about her brand new novel, Rome for the Summer.
Pop your feet up for five minutes and join us for a cuppa and some book chat.
Welcome Lynne. So, what inspired you to write your book?
The idea for Rome for the Summer first came to me when I was walking through Rome (my husband and I were heading back to our hotel after a day’s sightseeing) when I overheard two girls – one Italian, one American – talking, the American telling the Italian girl that ‘the job will only be for six months.’ I still have the notes I wrote as soon as were reached our hotel: ‘American in Rome. Why? What job? Is she working in Rome for six months? Or going back to the States for six months? Does she have an Italian boyfriend she is leaving or an American boyfriend pining for her return?’ I didn’t start writing the book immediately – I was writing another book at the time – but back in England, I happened to fall into conversation with a woman sitting at the next table in a restaurant who turned out to be an American professor with a very interesting reason for visiting Europe, which gave me the answer to what the American girl was doing in Rome – and she became my English heroine, Kate, who escapes to Rome for the summer. Then, of course, there is Rome itself – wandering around the narrow, cobbled streets, stopping to eat a gelato by a fountain in a flower bedecked, sun-drenched piazza, certainly inspired me to write a novel set in this beautiful city.
What type of research did you have to do for your book?
I did more research for Rome for the Summer than any other book I’ve written so far, mainly because, while I wouldn’t describe the book as having a dual timeline, some events that took place in 1816 – which my heroine discovers as she explores Rome – are an important part of the story, and I wanted to be sure that the historical scenes described could have occurred in the Regency era. At the beginning of the book, my heroine is working in an art gallery, and although I enjoy visiting art galleries, I’ve never worked in one, so I read up on the sort of tasks working in a gallery would entail. I also needed to find out more about the art world, such as how paintings are valued and sold at auction. I’ve visited Rome several times, and would have loved to go back on a research trip to make sure I’d remembered the layout, and to choose the best area of the city for my heroine to live in, but with travel restrictions still in place when I was writing the novel, I had to rely on photos, maps, guide books, and Google Earth. My social media newsfeeds are now full of adverts encouraging me to attend an auction of Old Masters or purchase a gorgeous apartment in Rome – sadly I will be doing neither!
Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?
I prefer to write in the first person, from the POV of my heroine, as I find this allows me to get right inside her head – to the extent that it often feels as if she is doing exactly what she wants rather than sticking to my plot! I also hope that telling the story through my heroine’s eyes will create an immediacy which will help readers to empathise with the character and drawn them into her world – even when it is clear that she sometimes gets things wrong or makes the wrong choice at some points in the story.
Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?
In the past, when I’ve first started writing a book, I’ve known the beginning and the end, but have had only the vaguest idea what happens in the middle, so I tended to go with the flow, throwing my characters together and seeing what happened. Then, there came a point, usually about two-thirds of the way through, when I started to see the shape of my story, and that’s when I started planning. With Rome for the Summer, I knew far more about the way I wanted the plot to go before I started writing, and made notes for each chapter as I wrote the first draft – although I still needed to do a lot of editing in subsequent drafts!
What is your writing regime?
I’d love to be able to say that I get up at dawn and write 2,000 words before breakfast, but in reality, on a typical writing day, I go to my writing room (aka the spare bedroom) and sit down at my desk by about 9.30. Before I start writing, I read back over what I wrote the day before to get back into my story, and then I write up to lunchtime – although I have been known to keep writing and forget to have lunch if the words are flowing really well – and sometimes go back to my desk to write for another couple of hours in the afternoon. I used to aim to write 1,000 words a day, but as I’m a relatively slow writer, I’ve found it’s more realistic to aim for 500 words and then be delighted when my word-count is over 800. On the occasional day when I hit 2,000+ words, I’m ecstatic!
What excites you the most about your book?
Although Rome for the Summer is a contemporary romance like my earlier novels, I very much enjoyed writing a book with a historical element, a two-hundred-year-old secret, and with more twists in the plot than my earlier books. I’m also excited that the book is set in Rome, and I hope that readers will enjoy visiting the Eternal City as much as I did when I wrote about it, and that they will like my heroine and hero, Kate and artist Jamie, as much as I do!
Purchase Link for Rome For The Summer: https://t.co/GefWLvcH7X
Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance. Her debut novel, French Kissing, now re-published in ebook as Meet Me In Paris, won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition, and her fifth novel, Love On Location, was shortlisted for a Romantic Novelists’ Award. Her latest novel, Rome For The Summer, is out on 23 June 2022. She has done a variety of jobs from stable girl to child actor’s chaperone to legal administrator, but now writes full time. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city, writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.
Many thanks for visiting today, Lynne. Good luck with your lovely new book.
Happy reading everyone,