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Monday 11 February 2019

ℚ Bella Toscana - Nanette Littlestone

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Bella Toscana (, Words of Passion, 259 pages), a Women's Fiction novel.

What a beautiful journey it was! Bella Toscana is a plenty more than a regular love story. It's beautiful prose connecting the untold love stories and culture of Roman history. Written so gorgeously by Nanette Littlestone, this story definitely teleports the readers to some exotic locations of Rome, Italy and Tuscany through her very intricate details.” – Syllables of Swathi  

Read this book if you believe in the eternity of the soul and power of love. --- A beautifully written story by Nanette Littlestone had me dreaming about the landscapes of Rome and Tuscany and all the ancient culture and architecture. It was a wonderful journey which had me thinking about my own life. The past memories had a smooth resonance in the present, connected to discoveries of the ancient life.”
– Shalini’s Book Reviews

|| Synopsis || Trailer || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Nanette Littlestone; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for Bella Toscana ?

"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). The history of Rome, the lives of the Vestals, the duties and sacrifices they made, colors, mosaics, jewelry are all part of this story.

The love that plays such a crucial role in The Sacred Flame also plays a major role in the book and in prompting and encouraging Toscana (the heroine) to take a much needed inward journey."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"A lot! (LOL) I made two trips to Rome to research the history, costumes, culture, architecture. On the second trip I connected with a history professor at the John Felice Rome Center who took me on a guided tour of the Forum and pointed out relics, artifacts, and historical notes. While we were walking on the Via Sacra, the main path that transects the Forum, we found two tesserae (mosaic pieces) just lying on the road. All gray, originally rectangular but worn on the sides, they didn’t look at all spectacular, but they were over 2000 years old.

Rome, Via Sacra

Toscana loves chocolate and brownies and I do too. Her company, Dolcielo, is based on the gourmet brownie company I ran for three years, brownie flavours included. The quote she mentions—“If Italians ate brownies, they would eat these”—was an actual quote from a food reviewer. Her love of food is also one of my passions, although she’s a better cook and a much better baker and she has tons more fortitude. I could never pull off the bake-a-thon she does. I get tired after an hour.

I’m also more impulsive and dreamy than she is, and our spiritual beliefs are worlds apart, but her journey of self-discovery is similar. As I’ve learned to open my heart and trust I’m able to share that with others."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Bella Toscana - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"For a long time I thought I wanted a deep blue on the cover—cobalt or marine blue or sapphire—since that’s Toscana’s favourite color. I tried lots of ocean pictures. Beautiful, but not quite right. Then I added in a nautilus because that plays a big role. But it still wasn’t right.

After a long, long break I decided to capture the essence of Toscana’s roots and I looked for a picture that would convey the beauty of Tuscany. There were so many photos to choose from, but this one (taken by S. Borisov) stood out because of the gorgeous palette of greens and blues with the peachy softness behind it. The house and the cypress trees also have significance."
Tuscany by Sergey Borisov

Why should we read Bella Toscana and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?

"If you like to indulge your senses, then this story will wrap you in a warm blanket of good food, chocolate, love, and passion, and you won’t want to put it down.

There are mouth-watering descriptions of food:
“Less than ten feet away I watch a chef roll out a circle of dough, score it with a pasta wheel, sprinkle it with olive oil and salt, then scoop it onto a long-handled paddle and slide it into an arc-shaped oven. In minutes he pulls out a heap of puffed pieces and delivers them to our table. I expect a soft bite, like calzone dough, but they’re surprisingly brittle and empty. And astonishingly good.”
"His mouth takes mine in a heady kiss, rich with wine and the passion of his love. Our tongues twine in a duet whose rhythm I recognize. I feel so wanted."
“Their [the Vestals] most important task was to maintain the sacred flame of the Goddess Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The flame inside the Temple of Vesta signified the heart of Rome, the seat of its power. As long as the flame continued to burn, no harm could come to the city, so they believed.”
And chocolate (tiramisu):
“The top is a thin coating of dark cocoa, and the dessert rests upon squiggles of dark chocolate, with a mound of cocoa-dusted whipped cream by its side. I take a bite of the dessert and my mouth hums in ecstasy.”
Beyond the senses, Toscana embarks on a journey of self-discovery, learning to open her heart, learning to trust herself and her instincts. There are obstacles and pitfalls, mistakes and bad decisions. But in the end we all want to love and be loved, no matter the age."
Can you tell us something quirky about Bella Toscana, its story and characters?
"Toscana’s name is the literal translation of Tuscany, that wonderful area of Italy that incorporates Florence, Pisa, Siena, Chianti, San Gimignano, and more, including the smaller Cortona (where Toscana’s relatives live).

Tuscany composity

Her mother is Italian but her father is an American who speaks no Italian but loves his wife with fiery ardor. So I imagined him wanting to name his daughter after the homeland of his wife.

Flynn’s name comes from Errol Flynn, one of my favourite movie idols and a handsome, dashing, somewhat reckless persona. Though Flynn Harris doesn’t look anything like Errol Flynn, parts of his personality resemble those vibrant qualities."
Who would you recommend Bella Toscana to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"The perfect reader would be a woman between the ages of 45 and 60 who wants a glimpse of passion, love, and adventure, adores good food and chocolate, and is also introspective and/or curious about spirituality. Readers quite a bit younger and older also love this book dearly because Toscana is so relatable.

The heroine is married, so people with strict religious boundaries and ethics may disapprove. And there is a betrayal, which may not sit well with others."
If you could / wished to turn Bella Toscana into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Producer – Steven Spielberg
Director – Franco Zeffirelli
Actress – Claire Forlani or Rachel McAdams
Actor – Ryan Reynolds
Location – Rome and Tuscany (of course!)"
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"Love, love, and love in different genres.

I began my writing career with romance and, over time, that morphed into women’s fiction as I became more aware of the complexity of relationships, the pulls and pushes, the wins and losses, the needs and fears that we all exhibit. I’m fascinated by the choices people make or don’t make, why people stay together or move apart, what we can do to create an environment that is hostile and unsupportive or one that is safe and loving and nurturing.

I’m also a huge fan of historical fiction. I never liked reading history straight out of the textbook, but weave a story around it and you have my attention.

I grew up reading fairy tales and the stories of King Arthur, so I’m a hopeless romantic who believes in otherworldly possibilities and miracles. And I love stories that inspire me and give me hope and encourage me to be better.

These days I’m reading historical fiction and women’s fiction plus a lot of teen stories. I was an extreme introvert as a teen, so I’m impressed with the strong heroes and heroines and the challenges they face."
What is your writing process?
"Lots of thinking. LOTS of thinking.

When I wrote The Sacred Flame, I knew about Bella Toscana. I didn’t have the name or the characters but I knew the premise and where I wanted to go with it. And as I wrote The Sacred Flame and the characters evolved and interacted and challenged each other, I could see pieces making their way into that future story.

But stories don’t flow quickly for me, so far. I used to be a pantser (writing by the seat of your pants) and create all the love scenes first, then I would struggle with all the surrounding pieces and try to make it all cohesive.

With Bella Toscana I decided I would make an outline. I would plot the book before I started writing. And it was so difficult. I could see certain parts, like her falling in love with Flynn, and I knew how it would end. But I wanted to prove to myself that I could write chronologically and doing it that way doesn’t allow for randomness.

It took a long time, three years of concerted writing and a lot more of thinking time. Right now I’m in the gathering phase (the thinking time) for the new book."
What is in store next?
"I’m contemplating a YA fantasy, which is pretty scary because I’ve never done YA or fantasy. The new story is about a teenage girl who tries to heal the heart of the planet and involves the heart, the ocean, math and logic, synesthesia, fractal geometry, Hebrew traditions, a little romance, and a lot of love and forgiveness."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"Butterflies are a symbol of transformation and they show us that despite life’s hardships we can emerge with grace and ease.

Cultures all around the world revere the butterfly and its symbolism. In Native American tradition, the butterfly is a messenger from the spirit world: yellow ones bring hope, red ones signify important events, white ones bring good luck. In Chinese tradition, the butterfly represents love. In Celtic tradition, the butterfly represents prosperity, joy, and good fortune.

I make origami butterflies for myself, friends, and clients and I have them all over my office. They bring me joy and happiness and beauty and lift my spirit."

I like that concept. And those origami butterflies are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them with us :-)

When destiny collides with a younger man, Toscana must discover her true north

Bella Toscana
Available NOW!

purchase from purchase from purchase from purchase from Barnes & Noble find on Goodreads


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Nanette said...

I'm so excited to be here as your guest. Thanks so much for hosting me and Bella Toscana today.

A question for your viewers: Toscana's marriage isn't very romantic. Do you believe in romance? What's the most romantic thing someone has done for you?

toni said...

A wonderful interview--I love hearing from the author of this book, which I truly enjoyed--it was so absorbing, sensual, and vivid, I stayed up late finishing it. I enjoy hearing the behind-the-scenes comments about the story, the setting, the cover art, and the author herself.

Nanette said...

Thank you for the wonderful hosting of me and Bella Toscana. I so appreciate all the effort you put into adding links and photos to the interview and not only making it interesting but so enticing! There were so many exciting pieces to look at and explore. I couldn't have asked for a better way to start my blog tour. Much appreciation and many blessings for your time. Sincerely, Nanette

BooksChatter said...

Thank you, Nanette. We loved hosting you and Bella Toscana, which drew me straight in as I am Italian ;-)

Wishing you a great tour!