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This week I had the pleasure of interviewing a writer I really admire, Phillipa Fioretti author of The Book Of Love and The Fragment Of Dreams. Now I know they say never to judge a book by its cover but I think Phillipa’s books are ones that judging by the cover will not disappoint. The cover art is beautifully simple and is so striking, I will admit I would buy these books simply because they look beautiful.

But the best part of that is that they don’t just look great, they are great! Beautiful romantic stories that take the reader on a journey filled with beautiful imagery and stunning story lines. I hope you enjoy reading about Phillipa’s writing journey as much as I did.

Firstly can you tell me a bit about yourself ?

I’ve been writing for about five years and before that I was – and still am – mothering. Before that I was in the visual arts area, working as a printmaker and lecturing part-time in the tertiary sector. After having my second child, I just didn’t want to go back to art making, so when I felt like I needed to go back into the world I thought I’d have a crack at writing.

Did you always want to be a writer or did you have a different career in mind growing up ?

I never thought about writing until five years ago. I wanted to be an archaeologist and went to uni to study it but that desire morphed into wanting to make things, so I followed the visual arts trail.

You have written two absolutely amazing books, The Book Of Love and The Fragment Of Dreams where do you find inspiration for your writing ?

Thanks for your praise! I guess I’m selfish in that I wanted to write romantic comedy but I wanted to include things that interested me, so I’d have the excuse to do all that lovely research. With The Book of Love I centred the action around the stolen book of erotica from Pompeii, dressed Lily in vintage clothes and whisked her and William off to Italy. It was great fun to write.

William rescued Lily in the first book, but with the second one, The Fragment of Dreams, I wanted to explore the Orpheus myth but turn it around so Lily was the one to rescue her beloved William from the underworld. The underworld is represented by the Sydney art world and her painter cousin in particular. Lily has to penetrate the darkness even further by going to Naples on her own if she is to save William. In the myth Orpheus and Eurydice are separated for ever – but Lily, modern girl that she is, despite her love of vintage, finds ways of bringing both herself and William back toward the light – in her own quirky and charming way. She’s great fun and I loved spending time with these characters again.

If you could go back in time and write one of the bestselling novels of our time which would you choose and why ?

I’d say Gone with the Wind. Scarlett O’Hara is a brilliant character, driven by a personality that is so out of step with what was expected of women at that time. Scarlett has almost mythic stature and I’d love to be able to bring characters like her to life and set their lives against a backdrop of major historical turmoil.

Do you have any writers that you really look up to or love to read ?

I admire Sebastian Faulks very much, he springs to mind when asked this question, but I read widely and enjoy all sorts of fiction. Some of my favourites are Sarah Dunant, Kate Atkinson, Sarah Waters, Peter Temple, Edith Wharton, Phillip Kerr, Jane Smiley, Philip Roth – the list goes on and on, but these, and many others, are writers I look for and I’m always adding to the list.

Of all you characters who is your favourite and why ?

I love all my characters passionately, even the secondary ones, but I think William has been the most interesting to work on. He has that male control thing, and coupled with a really thick carapace protecting his feelings, he becomes almost his own worst enemy. But he’s such a romantic, idealistic soul beneath it all. Lily doesn’t give up on him because she recognises herself in him, but sometimes I felt like saying to her, ‘you really want this guy?’ I never said it, because I knew she did, and I couldn’t create a better partner for her!

What do you hope readers take away from reading your novels ?

I hope they have a reading experience that removes them from the day- to- day for a while, that gives them characters they can get involved with and get’s them so deeply into the world I’ve made that they don’t want to put the book down.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing ?

What I like to do when I’m not writing conflicts with what I have to do when I’m not writing. I have a family, children, chooks, dog, endless piles of washing and always food to prepare. But when I’m not doing those things I like to read, watch films and work out where I’d like to travel to next and how it can be done and what I’ll eat when I’m there.

What advice could you give to aspiring writers ?

This is a tough question, because it’s a very individual journey. If your goal is commercial publishing then you have to have an enormous capacity for hard work, and that means sacrificing other activities you enjoy – like lolling in front of the telly, sleeping in and nattering in cafes. Also find a way of emotionally separating yourself from your work because you will be rejected, probably many times, and you can’t afford to take it personally. The best thing to do is to find a group of like-minded writers with whom you can vent and laugh and keep it all in perspective.

And finally what are you working on now ?

I rummaged in my bottom drawer and pulled out the first manuscript I wrote in 2006. Now, having plucked the characters from that, I’m getting to know them a bit better. That takes time, especially after working with the same characters over two books. The story is taking shape and they are slowly becoming more vivid. I’m actually really enjoying it but I long for more uninterrupted time, I guess as we all do.

A big thank you to Phillipa for taking the time to share her thoughts and ideas with me and for the stunning selection of photos that you are enjoying here. These photos are all pictures that represent Phillipa’s themes in The Fragment Of Dreams. I hope everyone runs out immediately and buys these books! You will not be disappointed I promise!