I was very pleased to see my story 'Sing it Again' in The People's Friend Fiction Special today and thought I would write another in my series of inspiration behind the story.
The tale is about a young Italian woman who has left her beloved Italy and her budding career as an opera singer, to marry an English plumber. Her mother, once herself a great mezzo soprano, is devastated that she will no longer be able to re-live her dream through her daughter. They become estranged and it isn't until her husband becomes involved, that Francesca returns to her native Tuscany with her young daughter and faces the ghosts that made her give up her singing.
Apart from the fabulous illustration by Andre Leonard, the inspiration behind this story was the most wonderful holiday my husband and I had two years ago to celebrate a special birthday of mine. We had three days in Tuscany, three in the Cinque Terre and three at Varenna on lake Como - an absolutely magical holiday.
'Nothing had changed in the seven years since Francesca had last been in Italy. The Tuscan countryside, dotted with cypress trees, fell away to either side.'
This was the sight that met my husband and I as we drove to our hillside hotel and when we arrived, the villa that stood before us could have been Francesca's mother's house Casa Bianca.
'Stretching ahead of them was the road that would lead them towards the little town of Fiesole on the hill. The white villa stood on the edge of the hillside, its wide loggias looking out across the vineyards to Florence."
Like Francesca, we were able to stand in the garden of the villa and looked out across vineyards and as night fell, watch the lights of Florence in the distance.
The story itself is pure fantasy except for Francesca's flashback to her stage fright after she sees her fiancé the great tenor Adriano Giovani with a chorus girl. This is the second time I have written about stage fright and it is based on a real life experience of freezing half way through a poem during a speech and drama festival when I was a child (I've mentioned this in a post before, but couldn't find it).
'Sing it Again' was a dream to write - one that just flowed. How I wish they could all be like this.