Tell us about the destination you chose for your SUNLOUNGER short story… The story is a journey from Clapham, London to Sorrento, Italy – and back in time to Rosie’s first visit to the Amalfi Coast as a teenager. I chose the Amalfi Coast as it’s the most beautiful, and most romantic, place I’ve visited. I went there when I was twenty (with my Mum, so sadly no steamy romances for me!) and was immediately caught up in the sights, smells, and golden light there. SUNLOUNGER provided the perfect opportunity to play out someone else’s Italian love story there.
Have your books featured any exotic destinations? In VIVIEN’S HEAVENLY ICE CREAM SHOP (Quercus), our heroine Anna travels to Florence to train up with a top Italian ice cream chef and sample the local gelatos and sorbets. I took the opportunity to do a little bit of my own (delicious) Italian research out there – a writerly perk!
If you could live anywhere in the world…It would have to be San Sebastian in northern Spain – a white sand beach, brilliantly friendly people and delicious Pintxos (like tapas, but smaller) bars in the old town. (*Poppy Dolan has set her story here for SUNLOUNGER 2!)
Destination you’ve returned to the most times? Latin America – I first travelled to Mexico at eighteen and the dance, people and culture totally hooked me. I’ve been lucky enough to go back to that part of the world a few times since – I’ve studied tango in Argentina, paraglided in Venezuela, taught English in Ecuador and salsa danced in Colombia and Cuba – and I have some unforgettable memories of people I met. The continent really gets under your skin and I hope I can still go back for a dance when I’m a grandma!
Ticket, passport, money and… A linen-bound travel journal to remember the trip by. Even the little details in a foreign place – the smells in a food market, the chatter of local women on a crowded bus, or the taste of a local dish – that don’t seem important at the time, are really enjoyable to read back over and re-live the adventure. Plus they make a really rich source for novel-writing material.
Favourite cuisine from around the world? Mexican street food – freshly made burritos with plenty of guacamole… I could eat my own weight in it.
Favourite holiday cocktail? A simple Sea Breeze for a chilled evening by the pool, or a feisty Caipirinha for a night out dancing.
Worst holiday romance: After GCSEs my friends and I went on a Greek island holiday (think Inbetweeners, and you’re halfway there). On the first night I got chatting to a barman and when he asked to meet me later I thought this was the start of a big romance – only to come back to the bar and find him snogging another girl. I was pretty wide-eyed so it was a good learning experience!
Best holiday romance: This is cheating, but it does involve an airport. When I met my now-fiance James in London, I had already booked a trip to Argentina for a few months and even when I fell in love, I decided to stick to the plan. The time came and we said hasta luego. Now, I’m really rubbish at the airport – always the one repacking my bag, flustered and late, usually in a pair of tracksuit bottoms so I’m comfy on the flight, trying to get to the right weight allowance and hunting for my misplaced passport. So when James offered to come and see me off at Heathrow I asked him not to. When I was in the queue, he arrived, surprising me, and gave me a perfect going-away present, not caring that I was a chaotic mess. It was the final confirmation that I didn’t want a holiday romance – I wanted to be with him, and after three months and a great trip, I came back home. The rest is history.