I am delighted to be celebrating the start of another weekend (although, between school holidays and coronavirus, the weeks and weekends tend blend into one at the moment!) by welcoming to the blog for Friday Night Drinks, author……Katherine Mezzacappa.
Katherine, thank you so much for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
A glass of celebratory prosecco!
If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
To a place called Bar Leonardi. It’s on Piazza Alberica, the biggest square in the town I live in. We’d sit outside and people watch.
My favourite pastime! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
One would be Thomas Hardy, a writer I devoured in my teens and have been inspired by ever since, though I think he wouldn’t be much of a drinker. I’d be wanting to ask him what drove him to be a writer, growing up in his parents’ cottage in Dorset.
The lady would be Lucrezia Marinella. I don’t think she’s perhaps that famous outside of Italy, but she was a Renaissance feminist writer, from Venice. However she couldn’t have become a writer unless her father had decided to bring her up and educate her just as if she was a boy.
So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
I’m working on the revisions to the sequel to The Gypsy Bride, published in May under the pen-name Katie Hutton. The Gypsy’s Daughter is set post-war and tells the story of the daughter of the couple from the first book, when she goes to study in Nottingham, the first of her family to go to university, and of her relationship with the two men who love her. When those revisions are with my editor, I’ll think about my next Kate Zarrelli novella for eXtasy. It’ll be set in Italy, involve stolen art treasures and have a carabiniere as the hero.
Setting for The Gypsy Bride
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
There’ve been different ones. A really proud moment was when my first fiction was published. It was a short story called ‘Connemara Marble’ in a magazine called Ireland’s Own. I think Maeve Binchy got an early fiction break through them. But I could also say when I got my lovely agent, and only weeks afterwards got my 2-book deal with Zaffre. That’s when I really felt I could describe myself as a writer. Another stand-out moment was being awarded a Cill Rialaig residency by the Irish Writers Centre last year.
The biggest challenge is probably getting back to writing properly after my MA. I moved house and country, the agent who had signed me left his agency and dropped me because of the financial crash, saying nobody was taking on new authors, and I rather lost heart. Then another writer from the MA gave me a real talking to about putting off writing, and after that I got started again properly and just couldn’t, or didn’t dare stop.
What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!
I’d like to be able to live by writing. That’s a tall order these days, with a few exceptions. What that would look like would be not just doing my own writing but also working as a writing consultant, critique-writer and proof-reader. That sort of portfolio takes some time to build.
What a great ambition, though, I hope you get there. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
I also have a project (as Katie Hutton) to write a novel set in Barrow-in-Furness post-war, in which the hero is a German PoW. It was put on hold for a while until travel became safe and permissible.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
My favourite city is probably Venice. It broke my heart to see the Webcams during lockdown when it was completely deserted. I love it in winter. On my bucket-list are places I want to go for research: Cottbus and Bautzen in Germany, cities associated with the Sorbs, and in Romania (this is for yet another book, set in Saxon Transylvania in the 19th century), Mediaş, Sibiu and Cluj.
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
I once cadged a lift home in a police car. The officers were very nice and let us try on their hats.
I love that fact! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
Jo Baker’s Longbourn. I love a book told from the point of view of the servants, people who seldom have a voice in history.
It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah’s hands are chapped and raw. Domestic life below stairs, ruled with a tender heart and an iron will by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman, bearing secrets and the scent of the sea.
So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
Alternate alcohol with non-alcohol, and always have something to eat. Failing that, Andrews Salts.
Andrews Salts? *Shudder* After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
I’ve a tiny house in a village in the foothills of the Apuan Alps. It’s one step above glamping. Reading, writing, sunbathing on the terrace, eating and drinking under the pergola.
Katherine, thank you for coming on the blog tonight, it has been wonderful.
Katherine’s latest book as Katie Hutton, The Gypsy Bride, is out now and you can buy it here.
Ellen is growing up in the Oxfordshire countryside. The granddaughter of a Methodist preacher and intending to marry Charlie, a boy from the local village, Ellen’s life is mapped out for her.
When Charlie is killed on the battlefields of the First World War, Ellen is left heart-broken and lost. But then she meets Sam Loveridge. Mysterious and unruly, Sam is from a local Gypsy community, and unlike anyone Ellen has ever met before. Before she knows what’s hit her, Ellen is swept off her feet and shown a world of passion, excitement – and true love.
But the conservative world that Ellen is from can’t possibly understand or approve of their relationship, and Ellen and Sam are torn apart. Is their love strong enough overcome their cultural distances, or will the hostility and prejudice they face destroy their chance at happiness?
Writing as Kate Zarelli, she has just released The Casanova Papers, which you can get here.
Ellie Murphy takes a contract teaching English at a school in Venice, Italy. There she meets the sexy enigmatic Professor Piero Contarini, from an ancient Venetian family, and agrees to help him in his work curating a new edition of the memoirs of the famous seducer, Giacomo Casanova. Taking their task seriously, they start to enact his adventures with each other, ecstatically revealing their own kinks as they do so. But who is watching them from the shadowy alleyways of Venice?
Katherine Mezzacappa is an Irish writer of mainly historical fiction, currently living in Tuscany, with her Italian husband, two sons and an old tabby cat. She also writes as Katie Hutton, and as Kate Zarrelli. Core themes in her fiction are love and culture clash, and these come to the fore in her début historical novel, The Gypsy Bride. She is currently revising the sequel, The Gypsy’s Daughter, for publication next year. In her spare time, she volunteers with a secondhand book charity of which she is a founder member.
Next Friday I will be having drinks with author, Christina Garbutt, so please join us then.