I spoke with Sabina Gabrielli Carrara, the author of The Last Witch, about her tricky plot progression, whether she hates this century or no, and what comes next. 43 more wordsAuthor Interview – Sabina Gabrielli Carrara —
And as promised here it is what kept me away for all these months:
“Back in 1974 the dormant Irish village of Seacross is shocked by the gruesome circumstances of young Margaret Morehouse’s death. Forty-five years later history seems to repeat itself and the quiet life of the coastal Irish village is suddenly shaken by a series of ritualistic murders.
Someone had broken the pact of secrecy to obtain justice, but if the truth comes out nobody will be spared, from the future Taoiseach to the local men of power. Inspector Billy McCabe is called to investigate but not only will he have to face his demons and test his beliefs but he will also have to watch over his shoulder because nobody can be trusted, not even the ones closest to him.”
It was the 23rd of may and suddenly is the 16th of October.
I was supposed to take a few weeks breaks but obviously, things span out of control.
In my defence, Ortensia’s alter ego, the bully writer, took advantage of the lockdown and produced her third book,(shameful promotion soon to come).
I know, I know it does not excuse to neglect the blog but unfortunately, days still have only 24 hours and women still have only two hands.
Yes because since we are all happily living together 24/7 the time lost a bit of its value and even more since the schools had reopened because even if I get rid of the offspring, the husband and the dogs stay and they sat to eat and be walked out and some days they even want clean and ironed laundry. Now, of course, I trust your judgement on guessing who demands what.
Since the last time I was with you, the travelling husband became officially a sedentary husband, at least until Christmas. Daughter number 1 hit the full of her teenager years ad there are days I wonder if she is seriously mine. Daughter number two is still human and smiling but developed an over-attachment to her mother. Let’s say, she’s a bit like a mussel with her rocks: glued to it and I am her rock!
”On My Own” “Alone” feelings and conditions that had completely lost their meaning with this pandemic and the worst is that if you can’t be alone at home you can’t even be alone outside because there is nowhere to go. The only alone space left is in the car. And so the once dreaded waiting in the car for the girls is now the most wanted time. My only chance to stay at least 1 hour in the only and absolute company of myself.
Of course, the last few months had not all been bad. We made it for a week to Italy to visit my parents after six months of skyping them, and we went on vacation. It was actually our Easter vacation that became our summer vacation. One full week in North Of Ireland, technically abroad so not qualifying as staycation, but still fun and we eventually git to have those so desired surfing lessons. Nice experience if only I had managed to stand up straight at least once on that bloody board.
Overall it was a nice summer, and we all proved to have a certain degree of psychological stability as we didnt try to murder each other.
Hopefully, the new season will see us as stable.
Who instead had his best spring /summer ever was for sure big ears german. He had his first vacation with the family, he started to come swimming with us regularly and he always some two legs at home to keep him company. Even cranky old Clara after a few rough months, she is doing great and the nappies are no longer needed. She is still as blind as a bat and greatly demented but thanks to the new medication she also has a newly regained energy.
She is good enough for us to start fostering again and so a little 10 months old German pointer, with a ridiculous name he didn’t even respond to, came into our care and we renamed him Hans. Little Hans (who is already tall enough to scavenge the kitchen countertop) had a very rough start in life and needs a lot of training. He is undoubtedly adorable and as disruptive as Kurt was at his age and the two of them together are cute and spend hours playing. As for Clara, we are not sure she had realised its tow of them now, but anyhow it seems to work and she growls indistinctively to one or the other.
So, even if I swore I didn’t want another big ear german full of beans in the house, here I am four weeks later signing his adoption papers.
Have a great weekend everybody, it feels good to be back.
The highlight of the last two weeks?Mmm🤔,my birthday, of course!!!!. And not because I ‘m a ruthless prima donna, but because I am genetically inclined to worship birthdays. Anyone birthday.
I grew up with a woman who is, in fact, a sort of birthdays freak. My mother,aka Nona, remembers anyone’s birthday and religiously calls the birthday boy or girl on the day. If then, they belong to the category of close relative or friend, she will gift them with a present. The present will be promptly delivered on the day of the birthday, and if that it is not possible, then it will be handed a few days in advance. Not too much in advance or else, they can think you want to get it out of your way and absolutely never after the birthday had passed or else they might think you had forgotten.
The same goes for the main festivity like Easter and Christmas.
When still a child, I clearly remember my mum, address book in hand, sitting on the chair beside the console where the telephone was, (in those days there was only the landline and even not cordless), and dialling numbers like there was no tomorrow.
When a bit older, and according to my mother in one of my most rebellious phases, I tried to suggest that maybe she could wait for them to call for once. Superfluous to say that it didn’t go down well!
Despite all her effort to train me, I have never felt l the pressure of the religious occurrences, maybe because I am not religious at all. A thing this one, that I am sure good old Freud could link to my upbringing, but I won’t go deep in this because I have learnt that Nona , (thanks to google translate), regularly reads the blog.
Where her imprinting didn’t fail to stick, instead, is on the Birthdays worship. As for family tradition, even in my house birthdays are sacred, and my clan never had a birthday without candles, balloons, cakes and presents.
Unfortunately, the travelling husband didn’t have the same family imprinting I had, but I trained him well. Still, genetic is unquestionable, and while daughter number two took after me, daughter number one took after the paternal side of the family.
Father and daughter are present last-minute buyers and normally going on a shopping trip the Saturday before my birthday. Something that this year they couldn’t do. I think they thought to be off the hook because of the quarantine but I’ ll be damned if I skip my birthday full pack of birthday celebration and even more damned if I get involved in it. Rule number one of a good birthday is that everything must be a surprise.
So, here I am, actively but discretely reminding them how long deliveries take in lockdown…Hoping that message is clear: I still want my present and my cake and on the day. When I noticed that the stock of wrapping paper I keep in the study has gone, I know the message has been received. Never mind the present is a tin of beans (better if it is something else of course) but it must be a surprise, and it must be nicely wrapped.
Now I only have to be sure that they remember the decorations, and so I leave the basket with the party stuff in the middle of the landing where they can all trip on it.
With a bit of anxiety about what is awaiting me, I got up on the 24Th to find balloons, handmade signs and lovely gifts, handmade and not.
Despite the odds, it was one of my best birthday ever and the first when even Nona had followed the suggestions she was given. Well, not that she could do otherwise considering that no shop is open in Italy and so she had to turn to Amazon. Something in a normal situation unthinkable as a birthday present must be bought only after careful research and some effort. Every gift is carefully planned and thought according to the person that goes to. There are no generic gifts to click on a screen in Nona’s world, or at least there weren’t … until this year when she had to capitulate and buy me a bath tray, with the promise that she will get me something else as soon life will go back to normal.
I, myself, would have thought to ask for a bath tray in a million years, but that was before the self-isolation when I barely had time for a bubbly bath once a year. Now, in this new life, I can bath weekly, switch on the bubble and now even bring with me a glass of wine and sky go.
Now I’m just waiting for the next trip to the supermarket to show off the lovely handbag the traveling husbnad got me. In the meantime I must decide if let the girls clean the windows or polish the silver first. Poor creatures, still so naive to gift me with a voucher booklet for domestic services.
So, yes, quarantine can have bright sides😉.
Ortensia will be back this sunday in the meantime let her alter ego brag about her interview with AllAuthor.
What do you miss the most about your childhood?
The total unawareness of other’s judgement.
When you were growing up what was your dream job? Is any part of that still true?
Writer since I read Little Women when I was around 7.
Do you think holding a degree in History and Philosophy has helped you shape into a writer?
Maybe not directly but for sure it shaped my mind and taught me to look at things in deep and with imagination, that sure it is a plus when you have to shape characters and scenes.
What encouraged you to quit your job and go back to writing?
To be honest, my job was quit before I went seriously back to writing and for practical reasons due to the family, but what brought me out of my shell and made me go back to writing nearly full time was rediscovering, thanks to a diary, how good it felt.
What inspired you to write “Fields Of Lies”? What’s going to surprise people about this book?
Anything around me is an inspiration. Everyday life offers plenty of ideas, you must just listen to them. Fields Of Lies was born after driving every day the same hills I started to wonder what were the stories behind those gated houses in the area and my imagination then took over. I suppose the most surprising thing about Fields Of lies is how close to home it is. It could easily be a real story just a bit fictionalised.
What sort of person is going to love the character of Bernadette in “Fields Of Lies”?
I suppose any average middle-aged woman. Bernadette is real in her feelings and behaviours and so are the rest of the characters. They could be you or your next-door neighbour.
What challenges did you face while writing your book, Black Souls?
The idea behind Black Souls was since the beginning very clear in my mind but when I sit down to plot it I realised it was not so straight forward, practically and so it was a bit of a challenge to structure it but then it wrote itself.
What made you decide to set “Black Souls” in Ireland and Italy?
It wasn’t planned but then I looked at some old pictures from when I was a teen and we were holidaying over summer in this nice town in the Dolomites and I thought…. “that lake screams for murder” and voila’, Lola had to be Italian. I also liked the idea of an Italian detective, to be honest.
Who inspired the character of Shane Flynn in “Fields Of Lies”?
Shane is 100% fictional but there are some details I borrowed from a cousin of mine.
Can you provide an outline on the most effective way to develop a thriller story?
You need a dirty secret, someone who holds it and someone who threatens to expose it, sprinkle everything with some murders here and there and misleading hunts and you have your story.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as a writer so far?
Put my face out there, expose myself and feeling more proud than afraid of doing that.
If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
Who would accept to play me I don’t know but who I would like to do it are Emily Watson, Helena Bohem Carter or Kristin Davis
What do you do when you’re not writing?
When not writing I am a full-time mum of two girls and three dogs so basically I spend my time driving and emptying the laundry basket. Yoga keeps me sane in all this.
When can we expect the next book in The Seacross Mysteries series?
“The Last Witch” is already a work in progress and hopefully by summer.
How has your time with AllAuthor impacted your life and your writing so far?
I will be forever grateful to that fellow author who introduced me to it. It is a great help and a way to connect to a fantastic community of writers and readers, I wish I had more time to spend online.
The last post ended with Ortensia ingenious wife planning g a week of painting for the traveling husband, while she would relax and enjoy the sun and some good book.
Well as they say, never wish to others what you don’t want to be wished to you, in this case, to paint a wall. Maybe it doesn’t say exactly like that but you get the concept. I am pretty sure it is one of the ten commandments too. And well, if it isn’t it should defo be…..you know just to avoid disappointments.
Anyway, back to the story, it turned out that Ireland is full of ingenious wives looking to make their husband helpful, or of ingenious husbands volunteering for outdoor odd jobs and take a break from their kids and brides. I am certain that by the end of this sanitary emergency Ireland will have the most groomed home gardens and the cleanest walls; finding external paint is, in fact, a mission impossible. Most of the hardware shops are closed and those that are still open only accept orders online or by phone, but they are so overwhelmed with demands that they won’t go back to you that easily and the variety of products available is poor. Or so the travelling husband said. He tried three hardware shops and could only reach one that only had black paint left.
“I know, but what can I do? If there is no paint there is no paint!”, he then would say from the couch, in response to my frown. And he really made it sound like it was not his fault. Except of course if he would have bought the paint last May when he first spoke about painting the wall, he would now have it safe and ready to use in the shed, but as every lousy DIY man, he only buys item by item and only when needed. And I won’t even highlight that if he had not only bought the paint last spring but also used it straight away as for initial plan we wouldn’t be here losing our dignity begging hardware shops nationwide for paint.
Unfortunately crying over spilt milk is pointless, but the ruined wall stays. matter of fact. And now that I spent the first week of the Easter break power washing the patio and gardening, drinking my morning coffee and see that awful wall upsets me more than ever.
Thankfully, any ingenious wife worth of that name is ingenious towards herself too.
The second week of the Easter break I promised the girls to make art and craft with them and so why not catch two birds with one stone and make art and craft on the wall?
We had acrylic paint of different colours, we had varnish to seal it, we had brushes and splendid weather, so let’s unleash our creativity.
While the three of us were happy out drawing and painting with great enthusiasm, the husband was looking at us with a grin expressing all his lack of confidence on the possible outcome of the project; and possibly regretting he didn’t try a bit harder on that hardware shop. If he tried at all, as suspiciously enough, that very same day both our neighbours had two big buckets of white paint delivered. Too late anyway as we were unstoppable and once done highly pleased with the result.
The husband instead, was in shock for the surprise: “I really thought it would be ugly you know! Instead, it is very nice. Great job girls.” he said and we decided to focus just on the second half of his sentence as we knew deep down in his heart he intended to make us a compliment.
The rest of the week went in between baking with the girls as promised on top of the art and craft and walking with the husband as he was getting beyond bored.
“Of course you are bored Darling, there is a limit amount of daily internet and tv a man can cope with!!!! Ever heard of cooking or spending some time with your daughters too?”
“Yes, you are right. I just didnt think about it. maybe I can help..or do something with the girls and the dogs” but once again, like with the wall, words and actions stayed unlinked until the divine providence intervened and blessed me with a massively painful ear infection on both my ears. I know its hardly a blessing and it wasn’t the first night that I couldn’t even sleep because of the pain but after I started the medication I was prescribed, the pain eased and I had the excuse to hide and rest in silence for an entire day withiout anybody following me around with any demands.
Three weeks in lockdown and ten days in total lock down and we are all still alive, reasonably in a good mood and not showing our middle fingers behind each other’s back, ….I think!
Truth to be told, a part of the household seems to adapt better than the other. In particular, the male population of the house is starting to show signs of insufferable boredom/crankiness.
Big years german, aka Kurt, has eventually realised that something is going on, and he blames the travelling husband.
In his head, the equation is straightforward: Traveling husband home all day every day=no more beach walks. Since the total lockdown, we have to limit our movements on foot within 2 km from home, and that brings us as far as the field behind our house. I suppose this restriction in his daily walks and the abstinence from seaweeds, explain the dirty looks the dog gives to his master, who has traumatically dropped in his scale of favourite persons. Dirty looks behind which there is only one question: ” When in hell are going back to travel so that SHE(aka Ortensia) can start bringing me back to the beach?.”
On the other side, instead, in the travelling husband ‘s scale of favourite members of the family, the dogs have suddenly jumped up. In his head, in fact, the main interrogative is: “when in hell will this thing be over?”
A question behind which there isn’t a real concern for humanity, but more an urge to leave the house, and nowadays his only chance is the dogs.
Very maliciously, some could think that behind the husband will to walk the dogs, although it is not hunting season, there might be some practical reason like needing some privacy to ring the mistress. Well, fair enough, and yes plausible indeed, even if I think that sharing the house with four women is already enough. But, when the same man who is suddenly so willing to walk the dogs is also the man that in twenty years of marriage never stepped foot with you in a supermarket, and now repeatedly offers to come along, you know there is no mistress there. The same way you also know that there isn’t a newly developed pleasure to share everything with his wife either, but simply a humongous emerging cabin fever. That is what it is! He went from complaining about being always on a plane to missing those flights.
Thank God the traveling husband has an ingenious wife who is now working out the way to transform this distress in something cathartic and useful. For example, the garden wall needs some work, so why not using the few days holidays he already took for next week to paint it? Boom, two pigeons with one stone! The travelling husband will be technically outside the house (no reason to feel cabin fever at all), and at the same time and with a bit of imagination, he can move the brush fluidly like he was surfing in Northern Ireland as it was planned for those days.
Happy Easter, everyone, have a safe one and don’t forget to indulge in chocolate!