Pink Heart Society editor, Ali Williams, is talking about finding inspiration on her recent holiday to Rome...
I love travelling and Italy is pretty much my favourite place in the world to go. So when my partner and I decided to be all spontaneous and spur-of-the-moment, we found ourselves booking five days in Rome two weeks before flying out!
I'd never been to Rome before, and it was his first time flying anywhere and so we both got rather excited and awaited our trip with baited breath.
Rome certainly didn't disappoint, I've never seen anything quite like it; round every corner was yet another church or monument and you could literally see all the layers upon layers of history in the contrasting styles and ages of the buildings.
We crammed in everything we could, from the Colosseum and Roman Forum, to the Vatican, churches and monuments, as well as all the Bernini sculptures that we could find.
So how does this fit into writing?
There was something about visiting the Eternal City with the love of your life (I'm so sorry, I'm feeling embarrassed just writing that phrase!) that prompted a veritable smörgåsbord of ideas.
From the lonesome traveller, discovering the city on her own for the first time, to being on a filmset, every corner came with a new idea/
There was even a panel on one of the ceilings in the Vatican (see right) that got me thinking about the possibility of a paranormal historical romance between an angel and a solider...
So yes, I'm in love with Rome and I'm in love with the idea of setting stories in Rome or pretty much devouring anything with an Italian theme...
Here are a selection of my favourite Italian-set reads:
The Past: It's 1939, and eighteen-year-old Anna meets Marco in Italy.
They fall madly in love, a love she knows will last forever. Even though, within months, they're separated by war. Even though she's told that Marco is dead…. The Present: Anna, who'd entered into a marriage of convenience, is widowed, and so is Marco. Long after the war, she discovered that he'd survived.
Now she wants to return to Italy, to Marco, for one final visit. The Future: Anna's adored granddaughter, Carly, accompanies her–and when Carly begins to fall for Marco's grandson, she wonders if they can have the life together their grandparents never could.
Ancient Rome matters.
Its history of empire, conquest, cruelty and excess is something against which we still judge ourselves. Its myths and stories - from Romulus and Remus to the Rape of Lucretia - still strike a chord with us. And its debates about citizenship, security and the rights of the individual still influence our own debates on civil liberty today.
SPQR explores not only how Rome grew from an insignificant village in central Italy to a power that controlled territory from Spain to Syria, but also how the Romans thought about themselves and their achievements, and why they are still important to us.
Security expert Jack Andrews has once again snatched a covetable job from the House of Steele. But now that the assignment has gotten complicated, he must call upon the last person he wants to ask for help: Kensington Steele. Jack never flinches at danger, but working side by side with his fascinating, sexy competitor might be more than he can handle….
When the assignment brings them to the Italian vineyard of a corrupt diplomat, Kensington vows to keep things professional. Even if working as a team fans the flames of their mutual desire. But once a murderer begins stalking them, they realize getting close may be the only way they’ll survive…
Getting away from it all doesn't usually mean escape. In this short story collection, women leave their familiar spaces - countries, landscapes, states of mind - to discover uncharted, but not always idyllic territories with lovers old and new.
The title story, To Italy with Love, introduces Iris, a newly dumped serial monogamist who travels to her friend's destination wedding. On the Amalfi Coast, she meets a much younger and casually provocative woman who challenges all the boundaries she's created for herself. Iris, queer and complicated, has a not-quite-secret she's unsure she's ready to share. But will her young lover pull all the way back when she discovers it?
Elise Carlton is looking forward to having her freedom. Years as a trophy wife have left her wary. But there is one man to whom she is not immune. . . . For revenge and for pleasure!
Vincente Farnese is rich and devastatingly handsome, his own special brand of dark Italian temptation! But it is no coincidence that Vincente has sought out Elise. What will she do when she discovers he wants her only for revenge?
A hardened survivor of more than a dozen gladiatorial combats, Valens's raw masculinity fuels many women's sexual fantasies. He is outside polite society, and Roman noblewoman Julia Antonia knows she should have nothing to do with a man who is little more than a slave.
But with a wisp of scandal clinging to her stola, Julia is drawn inexorably toward the forbidden danger he represents. For Valens, Julia is a tantalizing reminder of the life he'd been torn from. To claim her, he must fight one final time--and win!
Have you ever been to Rome? Do you think Italy's the perfect place to set a romance novel? Join the discussion in the comments!
Ali Williams grew up in Croydon and spent her teenage years in a convent girls’ school. She then fled to university where she discovered champagne cocktails, a capella singing and erotica.
These days she blogs about perceptions of romance, chick lit and women in society and spends the rest of her time promoting #StrongRomanceHeroines on Twitter, and cracking on with her first novel, Breakfast in Tunford.