This week’s Inheritance Books come from Gina Rossi, all the way from South Africa! Hi Gina, take a seat. I’ve got carrot cake or coffee cake today – here, have one of each.
While I make the tea, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
To be honest, as 2015 flashes by, I’m not too sure where I come from anymore. After living for seven years based in Monaco, we can’t seem to sit still (I blame the contractual nature of my Real Life Hero’s career). Since June last year we have been in the Channel Islands, Paris, London, even New Zealand. We have visited Marrakech three times and set off tomorrow to Poland. Have I left someplace out? Probably. Any writer out there needing a location consultant? If so, I’m over here *waves*!
That aside, the best thing about writing is that you can do it anywhere. I’ve been writing full time since my debut was published in 2012, and I love every moment. On reflection, that’s a bit of a lie, so I’ll put it this way: I have no problem writing every day of my life…or at least thinking about writing every day of my life…or…
Moving swiftly on, I am both traditionally and self-published, with four books published, and a fifth to come before the end of 2015. I’ve written one historical novel, but the rest are contemporary romances, and this is where I’ve found my niche.
Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?
‘The Story of San Michele’ a book of memoirs and reminiscences by Swedish physician, Axel Munthe, first published in 1929, was given to me by my late father over twenty years ago. It’s hard to describe this fascinating book and my best advice is read it, now, if you haven’t already. Munthe describes life as a doctor in Naples and Rome, among the wealthiest and poorest patients of both, and how he discovers a ruined chapel on the unspoilt (then) island of Capri, and sets about restoring it, all the while venturing from reality to fantasy, between the world of celebrity and poverty. It’s an autobiography, except it isn’t. I rest my case.
My father, who grew up in the remote Karoo area of South Africa was sent to war in Italy in 1942, and fell passionately in love with all things Italian, having never set foot on foreign soil. After the war, he visited Italy as often as he possibly could. ‘The Story of San Michele’, quite simply, was his favourite book.
Munthe wrote when he first set eyes on the ruined chapel of San Michele:
‘Just over our heads, riveted to the steep rock like an eagle’s nest, stood a little ruined chapel. Its vaulted roof had fallen in, but huge blocks of masonry shaped into an unknown pattern of symmetrical network, still supported its crumbling walls.’
A few pages later, he says, ‘I looked at the little house and the chapel. My heart began to beat so violently I could hardly speak.’
You will know how he felt, I promise, if you ever manage to visit his beloved villa on the island of Capri: http://www.villasanmichele.eu/en/welcome.
Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?
The term ‘future generations’ brings children to mind, immediately. While there are so many wonderful new books for children and teens on the market these days, I’d love to pass some of the classics to my grandchildren (thus far we have a mere two, both under five years of age, but fingers crossed!).
While my RLH has the grandson (s) covered, with his original treasured collection of Arthur Ransome, W.E Johns, G. A. Henty, etc., my own battered collection of childhood favourites has all but disintegrated. Starting over, with big holes to fill for my granddaughter (s), I have traced some first editions of those books handed down to me by my mother, and that I in turn, passed on to my daughters.
Obviously, first editions of books like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Little Women’ are beyond reach, costing thousands, but imagine my delight when I discovered this affordable first edition of ‘Green Dolphin Country’ by Elizabeth Gouge! This was one of my treasured books as a teenager, and it resonates today as I have spent some time in the Channel Islands, and visited New Zealand for the first time earlier this year.
Why would I leave ‘Green Dolphin Country’ it to future generations? It’s a love story rather than a romance – an astonishing epic of loss, self-sacrifice, devotion, loyalty, courage, love and intricate emotions played out against the breath-taking landscapes of the 19th century Channel Islands and New Zealand. Frankly, or so I thought as a teenager, it has everything; I spent months, years, searching for another reading experience like that and I’m not sure I ever found it.
Gina’s latest book The Seahorse Door is available to buy now. You can find out more about Gina on her website, on Facebook or on Twitter (@ginagina7).