Welcome to an interview with Siobhan Daiko and spotlight on her new book The Girl from Bologna
(Girls from the Italian Resistance series)
Publication Date: 29th June 2022 / 300 Pages
An evocative, compelling read, “The Girl from Bologna” is a story of love lost, daring exploits, and heart wrenching redemption.
Bologna, Italy, 1944, and the streets are crawling with German soldiers. Nineteen-year-old Leila Venturi is shocked into joining the Resistance after her beloved best friend Rebecca, the daughter of a prominent Jewish businessman, is ruthlessly deported to a concentration camp.
In February 1981, exchange student Rhiannon Hughes arrives in Bologna to study at the university. There, she rents a room from Leila, who is now middle-aged and infirm. Leila’s nephew, Gianluca, offers to show Rhiannon around but Leila warns her off him.
Soon Rhiannon finds herself being drawn into a web of intrigue. What is Gianluca’s interest in a far-right group? And how is the nefarious head of this group connected to Leila? As dark secrets emerge from the past, Rhiannon is faced with a terrible choice. Will she take her courage into both hands and risk everything?
Here’s the text of my interview with Siobhan
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.
Can you tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
Hello, my name is Siobhan Daiko. Thank you for hosting me on your blog. I’m a British expat and live in the Veneto region of northern Italy with my husband, a Havanese dog and a rescued cat. I was born in Hong Kong and lived there until my late twenties when I moved to the UK. After working in the City of London and then running a B&B in Herefordshire while my son was little, I trained as a languages teacher and taught in a Welsh comp until I reached retirement age. At that time, a dear friend became a published author and inspired me to return to the love of writing I’d developed as a teen. The first book I wrote, The Orchid Tree, is set in Hong Kong during WWII and the 1940s. My grandparents had been interned by the Japanese in the Stanley Civilian Internment camp, and I built on their experiences and those of my father in the Chinese Maritime Customs. In 2012, my husband and I moved to Asolo in the Veneto region of northern Italy.
Tell us a bit about your writing process.
I write historical fiction which requires a lot of research. I build my stories around true events, but my characters are entirely fictional. I use my research to construct a chapter-by-chapter outline. This is not set in stone but gives me a framework on which to build my story. I work with a developmental editor, sending him by chapters as I write them and working his suggestions for improvement into my final draft. I also send my chapters to a selection of beta readers whose feedback is invaluable. Finally, my content editor reads through the entire book before I publish it.
Tell us about your novels. Why should everyone buy them?
The Girl from Venice is a story I’ve wanted to write for years. The family next door to my parents’ house in Italy hid a Jewish couple during the war, and, in nearby Bassano del Grappa, there are trees bearing memorials where young partisans were hung by the Nazi-Fascists in September 1944. “The Girl from Venice” won the Coffee Pot Book Club gold medal in 2021 in the Historical Fiction with Dual Timelines category. I wrote the second book in the “Girls from the Italian Resistance”, “The Girl from Portofino”, last year and it, too, has done well, becoming a hot new release in the Italian Historical Fiction category on Amazon. I decided to tell the story from the point of view of Gina, who lives in London and returns to Portofino in 1970 to attend her father’s funeral. There, she reads her twin sister, Adele’s diary, left behind during the war. Readers learn the truth about Adele’s wartime experiences through Gina’s eyes as she reminisces about her own experiences fighting with the partisans. My new release, “The Girl from Bologna”, is inspired by the monument to the partisans in Neptune’s square at the heart of the city. There are hundreds of photographs of young men and women who gave their lives for the freedom of Italy when they were caught in Bologna after the Allies stalled their advance in the autumn of 1944. As I wrote the book, war returned to Europe with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, making it particularly a poignant book to write.
What is your all-time favourite novel/book? What makes it special?
“Pride and Prejudice”. The awkward, sassy, slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers plot that all great love stories since have attempted to emulate.
What author would you love to have dinner with?
JK Rowling. It might not be politically correct to say this, but I admire her hugely. She faced adversity and overcame it with dignity. She uses her platform to help others. It would be an honour to meet her.
What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or passions?
I love to explore new places and revisit those that I love. Hubby and I are fortunate to live in Italy and make a point of setting off on a road trip every summer to discover parts of this beautiful country we haven’t seen before. It’s a real treat.
How important is it to have your facts right and are there any instances when you bend history to fit your story?
I try my utmost to get my facts right and, as far as I’m aware, I haven’t bent history to fit my story. That said, in “The Girl from Venice”, Lidia studies medicine at the Ca Foscari University. She wouldn’t have been able to do that but would have needed to commute to Padua. But the story starts in Venice and she’s forced to give up her studies immediately, so I hope readers forgive me this deviation from the truth.
What are you reading at the moment?
I have already started research for my next book, so I am reading “Escape from the Japanese” by Ralph Burton Goodwin.
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Believe in yourself. Enjoy the process. Don’t worry if your first draft is rubbish. Just write it then polish/edit afterwards.
What are your future plans as an author?
I am returning to the theme of my first book, “The Orchid Tree”, to write another standalone novel set in Hong Kong in the period leading up to, during and after the Japanese occupation. Title “The Flame Tree”. Publication date January 2023.
Siobhan Daiko is a British historical fiction author. A lover of all things Italian, she lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband, a Havanese dog and a rescued cat. After a life of romance and adventure in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK, Siobhan now spends her time indulging her love of writing and enjoying her life near Venice.
Social Media Links:
Website: https://siobhandaiko.org – Twitter: https://twitter.com/siobhandaiko – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AsolandoBooks – LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/siobhan-daiko-74993651/ – Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/siobhandaiko_asolandobooks/ – Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.it/SiobhanDaiko/_saved/ – BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/siobhan-daiko – Amazon Author Page: author.to/SiobhanDaiko – Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7091256.Siobhan_Daiko
Thanks Siobhan and good luck with your new book
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