Friday, February 15, 2019

Interview with novelist Nanette Littlestone

Author Nanette Littlestone joins me today to chat about her women’s fiction, Bella Toscana.

During her virtual book tour, Nanette will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Nanette Littlestone never knew she wanted to be a writer until she was over forty. But once she began, the ideas didn’t stop. Her fascination with relationships, history, and the spiritual path has opened her writing to women's fiction, historical fiction, and inspirational nonfiction.

A native Californian, Nanette lives in Atlanta, Georgia, far from the beach (which she loves) but a place that’s warm with spectacular scenery. On the professional side, she helps entrepreneurial women write and get published with Words of Passion. On the fun side, she takes walks with her husband, cooks, plays with graphic design, and makes origami butterflies. She loves to travel, but she’s waiting for the teleportation machine to whisk her off to Greece or Asia. In the meantime, she’s happy with dark chocolate and romantic movies that make her cry.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Bella Toscana is a story about an older woman’s journey of self-discovery and learning to trust what her heart desires. She has just turned 50 and has a comfortable marriage with a kind-hearted husband, but she longs for something more, something she can’t express. As you travel with Toscana to Rome and Tuscany, you’ll encounter mouth-watering descriptions of good food (spaghetti alla carbonara, cacio e pepe, fettucine con carciofi, porchetta, fritto misto, tortellini in brodo), chocolate (rich dark brownies with apricots, Amaretto, and almonds or with cranberry, Triple Sec, and walnuts), and passion (His mouth takes mine in a heady kiss, rich with wine and the passion of our love), beautiful Italian scenery, past-life memories, and difficult choices. Be prepared for non-stop reading and lots of pantry raiding.

What inspired you to write this book?
Bella Toscana is the sequel to The Sacred Flame, a historical novel about a Vestal Virgin in ancient Rome who falls in love with a married man. When I was writing The Sacred Flame I was already aware of the sequel and how these lives in the current time would take on some of the challenges of the past. The history of Rome, the lives of the Vestals, the duties and sacrifices they made, colors, mosaics, jewelry are all part of this story. Those influences prompt and encourage Toscana to take her journey of self-discovery and look deep into her heart.

Excerpt from Bella Toscana:
I loved him before I knew him.
Some people talk of synchronicity. The rhythm of life. I know of rhythm, in the lyricism of words, in music, in the ebb and flow of the ocean, in the monthly cycles of plants and trees. A beautiful orchestration exists in the simplest of nature. But my world operates on logic, practicality, reason. I do not believe in a grand plan. I do not believe in God.
And then he came.
Before him, I had a well-ordered life. Habit and routine carried me through the day, warmth and comfort eased me through the night. There were disappointments. Longings. Not all was perfect. But such is life. If there was no great passion, so be it. Peace is preferable to something wild that soars then fizzles and leaves you with an aching heart. I had a different kind of love—security, respect, admiration, friendship.
I was fine. Just fine.
He showed me my lies in a slow creep of warmth that grew and teased and eventually began to burn. The thought of him burrowed deep inside me until I could think of nothing but him.
We were soul mates.
Soul mates. I scoffed at that. But we were linked inextricably, inevitably by some deeper force, some older reckoning that began many years ago.
To this day I don’t think he knew what would happen. How do you know what fate has in store for you? They say man has free will to act, to choose, to create whatever he desires. But what of other people’s actions, choices, desires? What if those choices conflict with your own? We tried to resist the seemingly magnetic pull. We did our best to act rationally, to behave with honor and dignity. To be selfless. But love is not selfless.
Love is selfish. Love craves attention. Love needs to be heard, to be felt. Love is a natural disaster.
You may think this is nothing new. We all know stories of love. But this story is different. This story spans over two thousand years. This story began in ancient Rome.
So I beg you, for as long as it takes to read this story, to put aside your beliefs. Something took hold of me, pulled me along. Was it fate? Destiny? Divine intervention?
Look to your own heart for the answers.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on a YA fantasy with a teenage girl who tries to heal the heart of the planet. The underlying theme is love and forgiveness and there are a lot of areas that I’ve never delved into before—the human heart, the ocean, math and logic, synesthesia, fractal geometry, Hebrew traditions—so I have a lot of research to do and a lot of thinking and planning.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’d written a little poetry in college and class papers but I had no desire to “be a writer” until one afternoon when I was forty-one when Spirit whispered to me and told me to start writing. I started with a story about a woman who won the Publisher Clearing House Sweepstakes and when a dead body showed up and a detective followed, I gave up because I knew nothing about murder or mysteries. Some months later I began a fairy-tale romance and finished it nine months later. My second novel wrote itself in a month. My third took a couple years. When my husband and I moved from Portland, OR to Atlanta, GA I decided I wanted to be a writer and I joined a critique group, My first reading was so traumatic I vowed never to return, but I did and eventually took over the group. That’s when I felt my writing career had begun.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wish I could write full-time. Not because I don’t have the time (and most of the time I don’t), but mostly because I can’t seem to sit still that long. My logical, perfectionist mind gets in the way. If I have an amazing idea I can write for an hour, or two at the most, and then I’m done. I have to do something else. I envy writers who can write for hours at a time.

The rest of the time I vacillate between my business as a professional editor and publisher, helping my husband administratively with his music light business (I do the bookkeeping), and playing Editor in Chief for the Conscious Life Journal (an Atlanta-based magazine). All that editing definitely slows down the writing process. There is no such thing as a first draft. My first draft is like a fourth or fifth draft because I’m never satisfied. Every time I read what I’ve written I change something. I’ve also discovered recently that marketing takes a LOT of time.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
When I’m taking a shower or taking a walk are the best times for ideas and scenes and dialogue to come in, and of course I’m not ready and have this mad dash to remember what I’m thinking and get to a place where I can write it down.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut. I had an explorer spirit back then. I loved to travel and I loved adventure and I could see myself among the stars. When Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon I wanted to be right alongside him. I couldn’t imagine anything better.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I sincerely hope you enjoy reading Bella Toscana. And if you do read it, please drop me a line. Authors lead lives of solitude, plying our craft and hoping that we’ve created a story that entertains, that makes you think, that inspires you. Hearing from a reader is the most amazing thing. So please reach out. I’d love to hear from you.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

James Robert said...

Thank you for sharing your book with us and for the giveaway as well.

Nanette said...

Good morning, Lisa. Thank you for hosting me and Bella Toscana. I'm so excited to be here and share the story with your readers.

Nanette said...

Hi James,
Thanks for stopping by. It's my pleasure to share Bella Toscana. I hope you'll let me know what you think of it.

Bernie Wallace said...

How long did it take you to write your book? Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Nanette said...

Hi Bernie,
Great question. It took about 3 years of serious writing, plus a number of years before that thinking about the book and trying to figure out the story. Bella Toscana is the sequel to The Sacred Flame, so when I was writing The Sacred Flame I already knew there would be a story in modern times that would tie in to the story of ancient Rome. But I didn't know how that story would unfold. The unfolding is always what takes me the longest. Thanks!

Nanette said...

A question for the readers: There's a lot of food and chocolate in Bella Toscana. Do you enjoy reading about food? Name a favorite book that has amazing food descriptions. What was your favorite description?

Rita Wray said...

I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you.

Nanette said...

Thanks so much, Rita. What's your favorite part?

Victoria Alexander said...

Happy Friday, thanks for sharing the great post :)

Nanette said...

You're welcome, Victoria. Happy Friday to you!

Nanette said...

Thanks again for hosting me today, Lisa. It's been a pleasure sharing Bella Toscana and hearing from your followers. I so appreciate the opportunity. Best wishes for a great weekend!

Bernie Wallace said...

How do you come up with the names of the characters in your book? Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Nanette said...

Bernie, character names often take a lot of thought and planning. Sometimes the names simply come to me. That happened with Toscana and Flynn. I think the name Jackson was the last name of a character in a book I was reading and I wanted to do something different so I decided to use it as a first name. Right after that decision I started finding characters with the first name of Jackson. So I wasn't as trendy as I thought. I also look at name meanings. Many times I'll search for a name that fits a character trait. I did that with the names of the characters in The Sacred Flame. Or I'll look at lists of first names or surnames and choose the one that resonates with me.