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Summer School (2008)
Love, rivalry, and writing in a Tuscan paradise.
Relax. Indulge. And discover the writer within...
Patricia Wilson's carefully composed ads for the writers' retreat she runs at her thirteenth-century Italian castle promise so much. But while the splendour of their surroundings and chef Aldo's melanzane never fail to wow the guests, huge maintenance bills and bad news from the bank threaten to close Patricia down. It's make or break time for the Castello.
Each of her seven aspiring authors arrives with the inevitable baggage alongside their unpublished manuscripts. But this August something is different, and soon lifelong spinster Mary is riding on the back of Aldo's vespa, and smouldering odd-job man Fabio has set more than one heart racing. Even tutor Jeremy is distracted from his pursuit of the prettiest student - by another guest's writing.
As temperatures rise, the writers gossip, flirt and gently polish their prose by the pool. But with ghosts, scorpions, and some unexpected visitors to contend with, one thing's for sure: neither the Castello, nor Patricia, has ever seen a summer like this. In the heart of Tuscany, seven writers search for a happy ending.
The Author says..
Set in a thirteenth-century castle deep in the beautiful Tuscan countryside and led by best-selling author Jeremy Bullen (even though he hasn’t written anything new for twenty years), Patricia O’Hara’s annual creative writing course is always oversubscribed.
But this year, somehow, everything is different. Maybe it’s the heat, maybe it’s the influence of the moon but soon lifelong spinster Mary is riding on the back of chef Aldo’s vespa, Patricia is being tempted by an attractive Frenchman and even Jeremy is distracted from his pursuit of the prettiest student – by another guest’s writing. Add to this Fabio, the stunningly handsome odd-job man, and some unexpected visitors and the mix is complete.
By the time the course is over, the guests will have fallen in and out of love, unearthed deadly secrets and changed their lives forever. And one of them will even write a book...
Frequently asked questions
Why write about a creative writing course?
I’m fascinated by these courses and have always wanted to go on one! I liked the idea of finding out about people through their creative writing. Also I wanted to set myself the challenge of writing in lots of different styles.
Which fictional book did you most enjoy writing?
Definitely Matt’s sci-fi epic ‘The Seven Moons of Gaconda’. I loved dropping clues into the narrative that tell you what Matt is thinking.
Which author has the best chance of success?
Well, statistically, probably Dorothy’s ‘misery memoir’. But as I try to show, you can’t always trust the statistics. The big successes in publishing are usually completely unexpected, like Harry Potter, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin or A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.
Which love affair has the best chance of success?
I think Mary and Aldo. I loved writing about people finding love in their seventies. I know from friends’ experience that this can happen and love is just as passionate and powerful in your seventies as in your twenties.
Did you draw on your publishing experiences for this book?
Yes. I used to be Editorial Director for HarperCollins children’s books and, of course, I had lots of manuscripts sent to me. The sad thing was that a lot of them were very good but publishers only publish books that will make them money.
Will you write another book set in Italy?
Maybe but not immediately. I think my next book might be set in BroadstaIrs in Kent. But that’s a very magical place too...