The weeks are going by so fast now, aren’t they? I can’t believe it is time for another edition of Romancing The Romance Authors, the feature where I chat to an author of romance novels about what, why and how they write. But it is, and this week I am delighted to be talking to… Victoria Springfield.
Welcome to the blog, Victoria. Tell me a bit about the type of books you write and where you are in your publishing journey.
I write contemporary women’s fiction immersed in the sights, sounds and flavours of Italy. I started writing my first book in 2018 and was lucky enough to get a place on the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2019. Later that year I met my agent, Camilla Shestopal at the RNA conference in Lancaster. My debut novel, The Italian Holiday, has just been published by Orion under their digital-first brand, Dash. A second book, set in a riding school in the Tuscan countryside, will be coming out in August this year.
Romance novels are often dismissed but love is one of the biggest influences on people’s emotions and actions. Love can make one person curl up in a ball in a dark corner, another person to leap up and down on the sofa like Tom Cruise. It can make people do crazy things, cause them to betray their friends and families or commit acts of self-sacrifice. Love provides a writer with great material and I enjoy creating a happy ending. I want people to put my books down with a big, contented sigh and the feeling that all is well in the world.
What inspires your stories?
I have been holidaying in Italy since I was a teenager thanks to my father who was a real Italophile. The locations, the scenery, the history and of course, the wonderful food all inspire me. Italy is such a diverse country – it was not united until the late 19th century – so the strong local identity of each location shapes my characters’ lives. The story lines come from people I have met, conversations I have overheard and things I have read. Once I start writing, the story itself inspires twists and turns as I go along.
Who are your favourite romance authors, past and/or present?
My favourite authors such as Mary Wesley, Joanna Trollope and Anita Shreve mix romance with other elements. I have recently discovered Erin Hilderbrand who is fantastic at dissecting human relationships; her books are mainly set on Nantucket. Rosanna Ley is great; I really enjoyed The Little Theatre by the Sea set in Sardinia, and I always enjoy Sue Moorcroft’s books. I want to read more from Nadia Marks, her Among the Lemon Trees, a mixture of family secrets and wartime romance has an Italian element but mainly takes place on a small Aegean island. For a complete change I am trying some historical romance; I am thoroughly enjoying The Spanish Girl by Jules Hayes.
If you had to pick one romance novel for me to read, which one would you recommend?
I hope you have plenty of spare time because I am going to suggest Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. This is by far the biggest book on my shelf but well worth the read. The book opens with the wedding of the heroine Lata’s older sister. Lata’s mother assures her that she will find a suitable boy for Lata to wed, but Lata has ideas of her own. By the end of the book Lata has three different suitors to choose from and has to weigh up the merits of romantic love, personal happiness and family obligations.
Lata’s search for love plays out against a backdrop of infighting and tragedy as India prepares for its first election after gaining independence from the British Empire. There is a lot to digest with the political shenanigans and a subplot involving a battle for the affections of the captivating courtesan, Saeeda Bai. The recent BBC television series included many of the hundred-plus characters from the book but it could only scratch the surface – they should have made fifty episodes!
A modern classic, this epic tale of families, romance and political intrigue, set in India, never loses its power to delight and enchant readers.
At its core, A Suitable Boy is a love story: the tale of Lata – and her mother’s – attempts to find her a suitable husband, through love or through exacting maternal appraisal. At the same time, it is the story of India, newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis as a sixth of the world’s population faces its first great general election and the chance to map its own destiny.
Which romantic hero or heroine would you choose to spend your perfect romantic weekend with? Where would you go and what would you do?
I was tempted to choose a handsome, brooding Italian but I am going to step back in time and choose Emma’s charming old-fashioned Mr. Knightley who would knock at my door and whisk me off in a horse-drawn carriage to Donwell Abbey. After a tour of the grounds, we would enjoy dainty cakes washed down with copious amounts of tea from fine china cups in front of the roaring fire. Later, I would descend the stairs dressed in a sweeping gown for the evening’s ball, where I would miraculously dance beautifully. The next day a groom would appear with two striking horses. I would try sidesaddle; Mr. Knightley would look particularly dashing in breeches and leather boots. We would fall through a portal into the Italian countryside and trot through the same vineyards, meadows and woods as the characters in my forthcoming second novel before spending the night at the home of a handsome Italian count. Spurred on by the count’s flirtation with me, Mr. Knightley would at last cast off his English reserve…
What is your favourite thing about being a member of the RNA? What do you think you have gained from membership?
The RNA provides a wonderful sense of camaraderie; I am continually astonished by how helpful and friendly everyone is. I have been missing the chapter meetings but now I am crossing paths with people on social media. If I had not joined the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme I am not sure I would have got published. The reader was able to pick out specific passages in my manuscript to show me where my writing could be more engaging and vivid.
What one piece of advice or tip would you give to new writers starting out in the romance genre?
Do what works for you and do not worry if someone else is writing 3,000 words a day. Also, get away from the computer. For me there is something about the rhythm of swimming or walking that untangles my plot problems. I have been known to scribble things down whilst I am wrapped in a towel in the pool changing rooms.
Tell us about your most recent novel.
The Italian Holiday is an uplifting seaside romance which weaves together the stories of unlucky-in-love Bluebell and kind widow, Miriam who meet on a coach tour of the Amalfi Coast, with that of local girl, Michela, who is returning to Italy after a year working in London. Whilst Bluebell and Miriam are making friends and exploring the region, Michela’s plan to work at her cousins’ restaurant in Positano is scuppered by a family crisis. Instead, she lends a helping hand at her parents’ tiny café bar in the quaint town of Minori, surrounded by memories of her first love, Stefano.
The three women have to learn to embrace the changes in their lives and seize their chances of happiness. The book explores love, friendship, family ties and – thanks to a mysterious poppy-print dress – how a change of clothes can change your life.
Sun, sea and spaghetti…
Italy was Bluebell’s dream destination, but taking her granny’s place on the Loving and Knitting magazine competition holiday she’d won wasn’t quite what she’d had in mind. For one thing she didn’t knit and for the other…well being single probably discounted her from the love category too. But a free holiday is a free holiday and it’s the perfect escape from her lacklustre life.
Michela didn’t think she’d be returning home to Italy so soon, a new job at her cousin’s restaurant on the harbour of Positano was a dream gig, miles away from the grey London clouds. This time though, she vowed not to fall into old habits, Stefano was the past and now her future in her old hometown beckoned.
But under the Italian skies a whole host of possibilities await and maybe happy-ever-after is just a plane-ride away…
You can buy The Italian Holiday as an ebook here.
About The Author
Victoria Springfield writes contemporary women’s fiction set mainly in Italy. Her feel-good stories follow unforgettable characters of all ages as they find adventure, friendship and romance. After many years in London, she now lives in Kent with her husband in a house by the river. Victoria joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2019. In 2020 she signed a two-book deal with Orion Dash. The Italian Holiday set on The Amalfi Coast is out now. A second book, set in a horse riding centre in Tuscany, will be published in August 2021.
Connect with Victoria:
Facebook: Victoria Springfield Author