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Guest blogger: Sue Moorcroft

16 May 2021

My latest book, Under the Italian Sun, was released earlier this month. It’s a book about finding your identity and the way it’s shaped by your past, even the parts that are well outside your control.

Zia searches old documents, craving information on the father she’s never known. Gran used to say he was Italian and Zia loves Italy. She adores Italy! She goes there whenever she can. Now that she’s lost her job and her relationship’s over, why not try and move there to live? This angle was tricky to research because until 31 December 2020, it would have been easy for Zia to live in Italy. But the book’s set in 2021, and the rules have completely changed. Luckily for me, what it was thought would happen, did happen, or I’d have had a lot of rewriting to do.

The spark for the book dates back some years, when I turned up at a lunch. As I took my seat someone said, ‘Mind the baby under the table.’ And there slept a baby, in his car seat. My friend was looking after him as his mother was suffering from postpartum psychosis and couldn’t care for him herself. I’d never heard of this condition but as I learned what a life-shattering thing it was, I knew I’d want to write about it when the right book came along. It’s connected with why Zia discovers two birth certificates and two death certificates for her mother, Victoria Chalmers. And they bear different dates.

Another long-stored idea was writing about a woman who finds someone else with the same name as herself so, as the book unfolds, Zia discovers the key to her past lies in her full name, Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers when she finds several letters about a woman called Lucia Costa. And Zia knows that ‘zia’, in Italian, means ‘aunt’.

Zia’s journey of discovery takes her to Montelibertà, Umbria in the ‘green heart of Italy’. There, while trying to unravel her family story, she meets Piero Domenicali, who’s fighting to keep his home on a sun-soaked plateau above the family vineyard. I enjoyed giving him a very different conflict to Zia. His goal was to stay put; hers was to move. It would have been easy to give him a family feud but much more interesting to make his fight with those he loves, his father and brother. How can he get what he wants without hurting them? It’s only when he’s victorious that he realises he’s let something even more important slip through his fingers … Zia.

Writing in Umbria, Italy, when such things were possible, my laptop inside a box so I could see the screen

You can find Sue here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Under the Italian Sun

A warm, sun-baked terrace.

The rustle of verdant green vines.

The sun slowly dipping behind the Umbrian mountains.

And the chink of wine glasses as the first cork of the evening is popped …

Welcome to Italy. A place that holds the answer to Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers’ many questions. Not least, how she ended up with such a mouthful of a name.

When Zia discovers that her mother wasn’t who she thought she was, she realises the time has come to search out the Italian family she’s never known.

However, as she delves into the secrets of her past, she doesn’t bargain on having to think about her future too. But with local vineyard owner, Piero, living next door, Zia knows she has a serious distraction who may prove difficult to ignore …

This summer, join Zia as she sets out to uncover her past. But can she find the future she’s always dreamed of along the way?

One Comment
  1. 16 May 2021 9:19 pm

    Thank you very much for inviting me onto your blog. It was a pleasure to chat.

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