Interview with the author of The Tulip Garden
Sarah Mathilde Callaway
What inspired you to write a love story?
Since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamt of writing love stories. That was my only possible destiny. But never would I have dared imagine that I would spend so much of my time so close to the place where the most famous love story of all time unfolded. Every morning, at dawn, I walk by the gate and look at the bronze statue of Juliet, then gaze at her balcony, thinking that love really has no limits.
How do you celebrate Valentine's Day in Verona? What traditions are there surrounding Valentine's Day that are specific to Italy?
The atmosphere in Verona during San Valentino is absolutely unique. Verona is among the most visited European cities during the days of the “Verona in Love” festival, when it truly breathes happiness. It’s amazing to see all the people in love, smiling, it’s something that stays with you for a lifetime.
What advice do you give to someone looking for love this Valentine's Day?
I’d tell them what I’ve told myself throughout my whole life. Love can bring you many shadows, and lead you to very dark places, but you have to keep on shining. This is why I enjoy dressing in bright clothes so I can shine!
What sort of response have you had to your book from the Italian readers?
I don’t really worry that much about what my readers think of my novels. Of course, it’s very gratifying when they write to me to say that they spent the whole night reading my novel, unable to put it down. However, I feel my destiny is not to sit around waiting for people to judge my writing, but to keep building something greater instead.
Why do you think your book would make a romantic and thoughtful gift for your loved one this Valentine's Day?
This will actually become a reality on Valentine’s Day in Italy since the “Verona in Love” Festival will be gifting novels by Sarah Mathilde Callaway to some of its thousands of international visitors. The English version of The Tulip Garden will be released in paperback on that day, so it will be the perfect gift: like a delicate flower, but passionate, thoughtful and bright, like the book’s cover. The day the English translator received my novel, she also got a bouquet of tulips as a present from a friend. Her friend knew nothing about my book so my translator saw this as destiny.
What's the formula for a successful romantic novel?
I think it’s the ability of the author to attract the reader into another dimension, letting them feel like they’re living the story themselves. Whatever role or traits of character the protagonist assumes, he needs to penetrate the mind of the reader and conquer him. For me, the success of a novel hangs in the balance between Art, Literature, Scenery, Harmony, Sentiments and Light. Like in a musical composition, the words need to mix to create a melody.
Would you ever write an erotic romantic fiction story?
I’ll be pushing myself to explore new horizons and forms of sensuality in my future novels. I’m not a series writer, so I can try pretty much anything. A few nights ago, I was looking at the bright stars in the sky, and thinking about the Orient and places I’m very attracted to. In that moment, I started envisioning a new literary endeavour around love and sensuality, which I’ll be exploring soon.
The Tulip Garden
Sarah Mathilde Callaway
Genre: Romantic Fiction
Publication date: 02/04/17
About The Book:
After receiving an urgent letter from their aging grandmother, Arianna and her cousins, Angelica and Anastasia, return to the Contini estate in the lush countryside near Florence where they spent their childhood summers. Arianna is engaged to a London banker who has put a ring on her finger but doesn’t give her the happiness she desires. When Arianna arrives in Tuscany she rediscovers herself and her forgotten passion for the land. She also encounters true love with Lorenzo, a man who lives his life intensely without worrying about the future.
Lorenzo, a simple farmer working the Contini land, soon finds out that Arianna is Armando Contini’s granddaughter. Their relationship is marred by this discovery and shortly afterwards Lorenzo decides to go to Ireland to take over a run-down farm. The tulip garden becomes Arianna’s refuge. She understands that true love has no bounds and can overcome any obstacle.
The second novel in the Contini Cousins trilogy, ‘Le Rose di Shakespeare’ (Shakespeare’s Roses) will be published in summer 2017, set in Sarah’s city of Verona.
About the Author
Sarah Mathilde Callaway lives in fair Verona, the city perhaps best known for inspiring the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Sarah spends her days taking care of the Lamberti Tower in Verona, the iconic 12th century monument that overlooks the northern Italian city and is the third most visited attraction (after Juliet’s House and the Verona Arena). And she spends her evenings immersed in her passion for writing.
Her love of storytelling and writing began at the age of just 13, when she would draft her own versions of English, Russian and French literature on an old typewriter. She has a degree in writing and, in Italy, is affectionately known as the ‘Writer in the City of Love’.
Sarah adores writing romance, pen in hand and heart afire, while watching the wind ruffling the treetops surrounded by people living out their own love stories in the city that inspired the world’s greatest ever love story.
Sarah is in an unusual position: she is one of very few Italian indie authors to have her book, The Tulip Garden, translated into English and released internationally. She has also written historical and contemporary novels in Italian – so there are plenty more novels ready for translation! Sarah is a member of EWWA (European Writing Women Association) and a member of the RWA (Romance Writers of America).