I’m delighted to welcome Stefania Hartley to my blog.
Hello Stefania – It was great to connect with you through the Romantic Novelists’ Association and I'm eager to uncover some of your writing secrets. But before we discover more about your latest release - Plenty of Fish in the Sicilian Sea – here are a few questions which will hopefully give your readers and followers an insight into some of the things that matter to you.
Arabella: When writing a novel are there any key traits, such as virtuously good or shamelessly bad, you like to give your characters?
Stefania: Good question. I never thought about it and I’ve just realised that my main characters are always very appreciative of nature. Serena and Enrico, the heroine and the hero of my new book, are marine biologists and are profoundly in love with the sea (and with each other, eventually). Also my current works-in-progress (plural, because I always work on multiple projects), have characters who are striving to protect the environment.
Arabella: A book has a beginning, middle, and an end. When penning your latest release, Plenty of Fish in the Sicilian Sea, which part did you find the hardest to write and why?
Stefania: At the beginning, all of it! Plenty of Fish in the Sicilian Sea is my second published book, but I started writing it well before Sun, Stars and Limoncello, my debut.
Back then, I wasn’t very clear on genre expectations. When I submitted it to agents, almost all of them told me that I needed to work out whether I was writing a romance, a thriller, or a romantic suspense. One agent suggested that I put it in my bottom drawer and got on with another project. We brainstormed this other project, but I didn’t click with it, so I wrote Sun, Stars and Limoncello and got a publisher. But Plenty of Fish in the Sicilian Sea was clamouring to be pulled out of my bottom drawer and see the light again. Once I had decided which direction to take with it, it was easy to write. But it took a lot of help from other people to get to that decision, not least that of my friend and critique partner, RB Owen, to whom I have dedicated the book.
Arabella: We all have a long list of books we keep meaning to read but never have the time for --- which book is a must-read for you this season?
Stefania: I’m absolutely loving Maggie O’ Farrell’s Hamnet.
Arabella: A slice of Chocolate Cake, a piece of Fruit, or Burger and Fries?
Stefania: I’d love to say a piece of Fruit, but I won’t be able to resist Burger and Fries. Unless there’s Pizza, of course, which is my absolute favourite!
Arabella: What advice would you give to someone who is starting out on their writing journey?
Stefania: First of all, I would ask them why they write. My advice would be slightly different depending on their answers, but a common thread would be: read a lot and don’t give up.
Arabella: What about your future plans? Any books or series in the making?
Stefania: I have a few romances at several stages of development and I am also continuing to write short stories for magazines and, eventually, anthologies.
Thank you for joining me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, Stefania. I’m all for protecting the environment and saving the planet…as for bundling it up in a romance…that’s another BIG TICK. 💖💖💖
All the best and wishing you lots of happy-ever-after writing…
About Stefania Hartley
Stefania Hartley, also known as The Sicilian Mama, was born in Sicily and immediately started growing, but not very much. She left her sunny island after falling head over heels in love with an Englishman, and she’s lived all over the world with him and their three children.
Having finally learnt English, she enjoyed it so much that she started writing stories and nobody has been able to stop her since. She loves to write about hot and sunny places like her native Sicily, and she especially likes it when people fall in love.
Her short stories have been longlisted, commended and won prizes. Plenty of Fish in the Sicilian Sea is her second novel, after Sun, Stars and Limoncello.
Website and Social Media Links
Book Blurb Plenty of Fish in the Sicilian Sea
Sicilian marine biologist Serena Ingotta has never understood men, but when she uncovers a mafia factory polluting the sea, it only adds to the things that confuse her.
Twenty-four-year-old Sicilian scientist Serena Ingotta has always misunderstood men, from her workaholic anti-mafia judge father to the Catholic seminarian she’s hopelessly in love with. Interning in a marine biology lab alongside her irritating colleague Enrico, she discovers an illegal polluting factory that is possibly connected with the mafia.
When it turns out that their boss is going to cover up the story, she publicly denounces him at a science conference and gets expelled from the lab. Alone and ostracized, Serena’s attempts to find love and expose the factory seem to be failing epically until she finally realizes that everything she has been searching for was just under her nose.
Reader advisory: This book contains instances of minors with firearms.
Release Date: 19th January 2021
Now available for pre-order from: