In the sharp bright Spring of 1981 a young girl with flaxen hair and an open heart arrives at Malpensa, a shabby airport on the industrial outskirts of Milan. Brimful of excitement and trepidation and wholly unprepared, she has come to teach English to the sophisticates of this Northern Italian city, and of course receives a sentimental and sexual education of her own ...This elegant erotica is Julia's homage to the genre and a love letter to Italy.
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I remember in my junior school writing about a crocodile who raised a ‘languorous eyelid’ and the teacher getting very excited. I was one of those little girls desperate to please and because I was hopeless at maths, being praised for my English made me feel less of a lost cause. I can’t say I ever wanted to be a writer but I have always written. I have never however, really kept a diary. I tried to but I always felt very self-conscious about what I was writing and I don’t believe one ever writes for oneself – we all write to be read.
My Renaissance, my latest novel, has taken over 20 years, as I explain in my Author’s Note.
A good story has a compelling narrative, characters of sufficient complexity or charm that you’d want to meet them outside of the book, imparts a strong sense of time and place to the extent that you enter into the story with the characters and stays with you for at least a while after you’ve got to the end. A great story is all that and where the telling of it is in such luminous prose it glows on the page and when you reach that last page you want to go straight back to the beginning and read it all again.
See above! My son however, is now of an age when he is quite self-sufficient. I am also very lucky in that he has always been rather proud of my writing. In fact for Christmas, he asked me for a PDF of my book cover and had it made into a poster. It’s on my study wall, and almost overwhelming…
The power of words to affect; in my case to effect pleasure and surprise and, sadly to offend. I use ‘cunt’ for the vulva, labia and vagina – i.e., cunt is an all-embracing word that avoids having to use cold and often the wrong biological word (it would be a very long tongue that licked your vagina…), and a euphemism. My cunt is not a pussy (miaow), a fanny (arse in US), a flower, and certainly not a front bottom.
I worked as an itinerant English teacher in Milan in the early 1980s, as does my narrator, Julia, so yes, I have drawn on my life there and the people I met. I have taken characteristics from various people and exaggerated them or amalgamated them to form new characters – that’s the joy of fiction, you can make them up! As for the Julia in the book, I think anyone who knows me would recognise me in her…
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