A great story full of heartaches, narrated with a gentle hand. Outstanding.
It Happened in Tuscany by Gail Mencini released last month in the Historical Fiction genre.
In 1945, Will Mills and his fellow soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division scaled Italy’s treacherous Riva Ridge in the frigid night to break through the nearly impenetrable German line of defense. Severely wounded, Will was rescued by Italian partisans and one, a beautiful girl, tended his injuries until he had the strength to rejoin the U.S. troops.
Tormented and haunted by his decisions and actions during wartime, Will knows he has unfinished missions in Italy to complete. The passage of time and years of carrying this unfulfilled need have molded Will into a bitter, angry man.
Seventy-five years later, Will’s spunky thirty-two-year-old neighbor, Sophie Sparke, faces disaster in her life. Everything is going wrong—her job, her love life, even her dog. Part of the problem is that confident and fiercely independent Sophie lets her quick mouth get her into trouble.
Grouchy, mean-spirited Will finagles Sophie into traveling with him to Tuscany to find the partisan who saved his life. Will also secretly hopes to confront the demons his wartime actions created. Sophie and Will comb enchanting Tuscan hill towns on an improbable and unfolding mission with few clues to aid them. Will’s passionate tenacity drives their quest and in the process exposes their darkest secrets. The journey alters the course of their lives, and Will and Sophie find more than they had imagined in the hills of Tuscany.
From the multiple-award-winning author of To Tuscany with Love comes a captivating story of the epic tug of war between honor and duty, the irrepressible power of love, and the concept of family.
Gail Mencini is the acclaimed author of It Happened in Tuscany and To Tuscany with Love, both of which are Denver Post #1 bestsellers and award winners. Gail grew up in DeWitt, Nebraska, graduated from Wartburg College with a BA in Accounting and Economics, and earned a master of taxation degree from the University of Denver. A frequent visitor to Tuscany and a homegrown gourmet cook, Gail has toured Italy by car, train, bus, Vespa, and foot. She lives in Colorado with her husband.
Thank you, Viviana, for allowing me to do a guest post on your great blog!
When I visit book clubs, a frequent question I receive is to describe how I start my writing process. My novels begin with the germ of an idea about the plot and setting. For my debut novel, “To Tuscany with Love,” the plot premise was: A group of college students meet in Italy during a semester abroad and return thirty years later for a reunion. My current release, “It Happened in Tuscany,” grew out of a war-based premise: A World War II 10th Mountain Division soldier returns to Italy seventy-five years after the war to find the female resistance fighter who saved his life.
I love my second phase of writing, as this is where I conjure up the main characters. I name them, give them personalities, flaws, and primary motivations. Each character has a character sketch, where I keep the details of their age, physical appearance, a stock photo of what I think they look like, their occupation, family, quirks, motivations, and flaws. Readers frequently ask me if I base characters on anyone I know. The answer is always “no.” I am familiar, as likely we all are, with the type of person I may showcase in my characters:
A person with low self-esteem
Someone domestically abused or tragically lonely
A person with a life-long regret.
I do not, however, base characters on real people. I only use historical or famous characters fictitiously.
Building characters is essential to me as that not only aids with consistency but also creates plot opportunities. I ask myself, “what would be the biggest obstacles preventing this character from achieving their goal?” My plot then creates these problems, throws roadblocks in front of them, and creates havoc and conflict.
Once I’ve created them, my characters are itching for a storyline to follow. I do a simple plot outline by scene. This outline is only a baseline, as it will change during the first and second drafts of the manuscript. I then research settings and historical events before beginning the first draft.
Now I can finally start “writing!”
Thank you for letting me guest post on your blog! You can learn more about “It Happened in Tuscany,” and “To Tuscany with Love,” at www.gailmencini.com.
iTours is inviting you to watch iTours’s Lauren’s livestream interview with Gail Mencini this Friday at Authors on iTours Friday Brown Bag Lunch, 12 Noon Eastern Standard Time (New York). This is a new video podcast by iReads on their new YouTube channel. You can watch the livestream on the Author on iTours page, their YouTube Channel, or Facebook.
Here’s the link to the livestream broadcast. Don’t worry if you miss the livestream, you can check out the video on their website, YouTube, or Facebook:
- Win 1 of 5 copies of IT HAPPENED IN TUSCANY (choice of signed print, ebook, or audiobook)
- GRAND PRIZE (book plus high-quality canvas bag (6 winners) (USA only) (ends Apr 9)