Hands in the air-who has been to Italy? Who would like to go to Italy?
If Tuscany is on your bucket list of adventures then you must read The Florentine Bridge by author Vanessa Carnevale.
Today I am interviewing Vanessa and discussing all things Italy, love and the writing process.
How long has it taken you to get The Florentine Bridge from concept to publication? Can you describe the process to us?
While the first draft of The Florentine Bridge took me around six weeks to write, that was followed by revision and editing. Then I went out and began querying agents. I signed with my agent around nine months after I’d finished writing the first draft. From there, my agent, who is quite editorially hands on, gave me a couple of rounds of editorial notes to revise to before going on submission. We received multiple offers to publish the book and I ended up signing a two-book deal with Harlequin MIRA in early 2016.
Who is your favourite character in the book & why?
Hmm, a tricky question. I wrote the book in first person from Mia’s perspective, so I felt very connected to her as I was writing the story through her eyes. She’s such a strong character for everything she endured, and I really enjoyed creating an artistic character who saw the world through the lens she did. Luca was also a fun character to write – he just came alive on the page with so little effort, and I loved that. I also have a soft spot for Mia’s mentor, Signor Fiorelli, such a tender character who delicately transfers his love of art and the importance of it to Mia. My heart cracked a little for Adam and Julie, Mia’s parents, and at the end of the day, I just love them all—can you tell?!
What would you do differently in the writing process now you are a published author to make writing your book easier?
Personally, one of the great things about writing my first book was that I proved to myself that I was able to actually write (and finish writing) a book. Knowing that has made trusting the entire process a lot easier.
One thing I’d like to implement this year as I embark on writing my third book is to carve out more uninterrupted writing time – that is, I want to take some time away to write for a couple of days at a time while working on the first draft. I find that being able to fully immerse myself in a draft without having to stop and start makes the process a lot more pleasurable but also more productive. So we’ll see how that pans out!
How important was the research factor in your book eg. the setting, knowing about cancer treatment, the language?
The book did involve some research into these things to be able to write authentically about them, but one of the blessings I had was that I had lived in Florence for several years and Italy is still a place I travel to often. I’m fluent in Italian and had a very good understanding of Tuscany so this helped immensely in terms of being able to draw on my knowledge of the landscape and culture.
Was there any important storylines or characters that you had to remove or not able to flesh out as well as you had hoped? Or did a new character or storyline emerge as a surprise during the editing process? Was the editing process as brutal as we are lead to believe?
For the most part, the storyline remained consistent as I drafted the story and revised it but I did work on strengthening lots of other aspects of the novel, such as Mia’s backstory through the flashback scenes that weren’t originally in the first draft, and the relationship she has with her parents. I worked on the emotionality of scenes, as well as the events in the latter third of the book. By the time I handed in the final draft I’d rewritten the ending three times!
As far as the editing process goes, this is something I personally love. It’s when I can look back on the manuscript with a bit more of an objective eye. I find it so much easier to revise when I know what to revise so I really value editorial notes. My edit with my publisher was quite straightforward, and I think this is because my agent had taken me through a couple of rounds of edits before we placed the book on submission. She really encouraged me to push for my best, and while there were times I sat in front of the computer and wondered whether I could do it – it was well and truly worth it because we had a much stronger manuscript in the end.
What does your next novel or project involve?
Without giving too much away, my second book, another contemporary novel (also a love story) is set on a flower farm. It looks at the role our memories play in our lives and whether we’d live the same life twice if we had the chance to.
Do you write solo or do you also have mentors or writing group members for support during your writing process? How important is their input?
Like most creative pursuits, writing is quite solitary and involves a lot of trust in terms of getting words on the page. Connection with other writers is important to me, so I have a monthly writing group I attend, and while critique isn’t always a part of those catch ups, support is, which is great. I do have some trusted writers that I turn to for feedback and I really value their input. I think it’s imperative to have other people’s eyes on your work to help identify what needs strengthening, what’s working versus what’s not and so on. After I take my drafts through this process and I feel like I’ve taken it as far as I can on my own, I then send my work to my agent who provides her feedback and her impressions and ideas are like gold!
What is your No 1 tip for aspiring writers to get words on the page?
Trust yourself to finish what you start. Know that self-doubt is normal and eventually, if you keep showing up and keep trusting yourself, and you do the work, you’ll eventually be able to hold a completed manuscript in your hands and you never know where that might lead you.
Which book do you wish you had written & why?
I’ve actually never given any thought to this question! I just write the kind of stories I like to read. One of my all time favourite books is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I don’t know that I wish I’d written it, but I really loved the voice, her style, the setting and the story.
About Vanessa Carnevale
Vanessa Carnevale is an author and freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia, where she lives with her husband and two children. In her early twenties, Vanessa spent several years living in Florence, Italy, where she met her husband and discovered a love of travel and la dolce vita. She now considers Italy her second home. Vanessa is also the host of Your Beautiful Writing Life Writing Retreats. The Florentine Bridge is her first novel.
You can connect with Vanessa at www.vanessacarnevale.com
Find a copy of the Florentine Bridge below: