I’m not the first to think of this. There have been many books set in Italy but actually being there and drinking in the sound of lapping water of a mountain-rimmed Italian lake while dining at sunset was too much for me. I had to write one, but on a deeper level, it was a healing experience. I hadn’t been writing for quite a while. A divorce had left me unable to enjoy the magic of romance, but Italy did.
All of that beauty was a balm to my soul. When my friend, Josie, from the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, and I booked the holiday, I had no idea it would affect me so profoundly, but it helped me to feel the joy of love and gave me hope that I could fall in love again. So I knew it was the perfect place for a soul to heal and I wanted to write a heroine who did that in Italy.
When visiting the Opera house in Milan, I discovered it’s also home to a famous ballet company. Further research provided proof that an Australian dancer could apply for a scholarship and earn a place in the company. Katrina’s character started to appear.
The days, I spent wandering, in Milan were most precious. I love that city. The Teatro Alla Scala, the Galleria Victoria, the designer shops and cafes and parks made it feel like a place I could settle into and live forever. But family and friends at home pulled me to the airport, and I caught the plane home.
A similar dilemma is faced by Katrina. She loves Italy and dancing as prima ballerina at the Teatro Alla Scala. But when trouble strikes, she heads home to Melbourne Australia for the much-needed support from her family.
While driving through Lombardy with friends, we passed a small, car manufacturer. It was a name I hadn’t heard of and don’t remember it now, but Alessandro was inspired by the idea that a young son might want to engineer a new car. My love of the Castles that I visited in Italy gave him a home on Lake Como, and the apartment building I walked past in Milan gave me his bachelor pad. The fact that he was a racing car driver came from his father being one, an aristocrat with the money to enjoy doing a sport he loves, a love that is passed down to his son.
Later I discovered the coincidence that Melbourne Australia is the home of Ballet and Formula One racing and Milan is the home for both of these in Italy.
Katrina and Alessandro are a couple of souls in need of healing. To avoid dealing with their pain they each, in their own way, live life at a fast pace. Both travel the globe each year with their careers and avoid settling down. But when fate brings them together a new phase of their life begins and dealing with their feelings becomes a must if they are to survive. They fail at first, but a little boy makes the stakes so high that each has to face the risk that loving brings and get past the hurts that make them push it away.
Without a trip to Italy, I think my life might have turned out very differently. I’m writing again and have met and moved in with a loving kind and handsome man with an Italian heritage. Did I write him into being? Maybe.
‘The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby’ was released on November 14th