Like many good things, my latest book, Summer’s Lease, started off with a ghost of an idea. What if a girl who’d lost everything came face to face with the man who’d ruined her career. And what if he’d had more success than he’d ever dreamed of? From that little kernel a story started to grow. As the heroine – Cesca – is a playwright, I wanted the setting to be secluded, almost like a theatre in itself. That’s where the idea of an isolated villa came from. It had to be behind gates, with no connection to the outside world, and yet beautiful enough for the seclusion to feel luxurious.
And on top of that, there had to be a reason for the heroine to be thrown together with the hero — Hollywood superstar Sam Carlton. And what better reason than the fact they both thought they’d be the only person at the villa? So when Sam, the man who caused Cesca’s fall from grace, turns up at his family’s villa on Lake Como, all hell breaks loose. And thus begins the story of Summer’s Lease.
When it came to researching the location, I felt truly blessed. I also managed to do it a little back-to-front. I started off with my good friend, Google, spending hours on trip advisor and travel blogs, soaking up the hot atmosphere of Lake Como, and becoming hugely jealous of all those rich people and celebrities who spend their summer there. I also spent a lot of time researching the food – finding out about the local produce, some of the best restaurants, as well as the luscious wine that’s produced in the region.
When I finished the first draft, I realized I’d not only fallen in love with the hero and heroine, but also with a whole country. So I turned to my long-suffering (but lovely) husband and said, “can we go on holiday to Italy this year?”
Thankfully, he said yes.
In the end, we agreed that Lake Garda was more suitable for our family of four than Lake Como. So last summer we hauled ourselves and our bags to our local airport and flew out to Milan, where we picked up a hire car and drove across to the lakes. And in a weird way I felt a bit like a girl going to meet a boy she’d met online. I was nervous that it wouldn’t be as beautiful as the pictures and descriptions had made it out to be. That somehow I’d been cat-fished by a country.
But of course it was MORE than I ever thought possible. The lake was as sparkling and blue as I’d hoped it be, the scenery as breathtaking, and the food as mouthwatering as I try to describe in the book. And when our two weeks were over, I got back onto that aeroplane knowing that I’d be back very soon.
And since a picture paints a thousand words, I’ll leave you with some photographs of our time at Lake Garda, and maybe you’ll fall a little in love with it, too.
Summer’s Lease will be released on July 13th, in eBook and Paperback. For more information please click here.