About The Book 

Do our secrets make us who we are?

Santina is spending her final days at her home, Villa San Vito, in the beautiful Italian town of Positano. As she decides the fate of the magnificent eighteenth century Pascal she must confront the choices that led her here.

In 1949, hoping to escape poverty, young Santina becomes housekeeper to a distinguished British major and his creative, impulsive wife, Adeline.

When they move to Positano, Santina joins them, raising their daughter as Adeline’s mental health declines. With each passing year, Santina becomes more deeply entwined with the family, trying to navigate her complicated feelings for a man who is much more than an employer – while hiding secrets that could shatter the only home she knows……

About The Author 

Sara attended Hampstead School, London and went on to graduate from the University of Bristol with a BA Hons in Theatre, Film and TV. She followed on to complete her postgraduate diploma in acting from Drama Studio London. She has worked extensively in the theatre, film and television industries, including roles in much loved productions such as Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Doctor Who and Franco Zeffirelli’s Sparrow. She is based in London.

Sara has kindly written a blog post for my blog. I hope you enjoy.

My Female Protagonists’ Super Power? Vulnerability. 

It’s safe to say that all writers aspire to creating fresh stories each time they concoct their next plots and settings. Not long into starting work on my second novel, The Secret Legacy, my agent and I had an interesting conversation about how writers return to a theme repeatedly, approaching from fresh angles and with new characters. I bristled at the thought. Putting myself into that box made me feel like I had clipped my wings before they’d even opened to their full span to begin with.

I lay in bed that night wondering how it related to my work and what the implications were. Somewhere around 3am as I remember, that misty brain fog time perfect for forgotten retorts, unfinished to-dos, musts and should haves, or, for those of us who have chosen to procreate, witching hour calls from off spring mid nightmare, I realised what my recurring theme was: Vulnerability.

The word does little to fully colour one of the most complex of human feelings, which winds its way out of us in a spectrum of expression. Sometimes through anger, the ideal avenue for fear, which is a close cousin to vulnerability, sometimes through the protective cloak of stark emotional detachment (I can relate to this one!) and sometimes through the mask of aloof pride or swagger.

I am drawn to this subject because the women in my stories face relationships that threaten to swerve their controlled grip on their lives. I’m not talking about relationships that consume them in a negative way, though I do use these to highlight the opposite. I’m talking about those relationships, or attractions, that force them to question their own parameters, tread where they may not be comfortable, accept that they feel more than they can contain, or, indeed feel free, or safe, to express. I like prizing open fierce independent female characters to find their soft spot, one which I’ve seen masked in many women I’ve come to know and love in a riotous array of behaviours. Personally, it’s taken me two children and a marriage to understand the brutality and venerability of vulnerability, that continuous reminder that everything you come to know will by necessity be tumbled down out of reach so that you grow further than you’d planned.

I’ve come to view Vulnerability as a super power, because it takes a great deal of courage to sit in it, without the need for reassurance, or to give another person the responsibility of scrubbing it away, placing fearlessness in its place. The swamp of vulnerability is where all the gold nuggets of human experience lie.

Sometimes my stories are described as those that involve women sacrificing some part of themselves or their lives for love, but I see it more as acts of conscious surrender, which in our culture we’ve come to view as a point of weakness. I used to also, but the women in real life that I admire the most are the ones who have witnessed their self doubt, self criticism, the harsh words of others and their own shadow voices, and, without fight, found a point of stillness within it, leaning into the unknown, which is where both fear and endless possibilities lie.

The art of creation requires vulnerability, an openness to harness that silent spot usually revealed only to a few. The intimate act of writing and reading allows for this secret world to open up and to be shared. The development of my female characters allows me to ask the question about what happens when we allow ourselves to relinquish our designed versions of ourselves, our lives, our dreams? The act of which allows my characters to open themselves to the power of endless possibilities and success – often far scarier than the prospect of failure. Their vulnerability becomes a treasured guide along the road too travelled, and the act of conscious surrender, noble, not weak. I’m interested in investigating the tension between what a society expects female strength to look and behave like in opposition to the natural expression of it in my characters, both those aspects with which they are comfortable, and those that are shed light on by the people they are attracted to.

At the heart of my stories lie powerful love affairs that alter the course of my character’s lives and force them to push the boundaries of their vulnerability. I’ve come to believe that this may well be a human’s supreme act of courage after all.

The Secret Legacy is published by Harper Collins 

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