Updated: Jun 16
The gorgeous Carla Caruso in her beautiful home
Digging around online for some interesting facts about Carla, I came across this gorgeous tidbit - 'Carla always wanted to be a novelist, annoying the kindergarten teachers by dictating long, detailed stories to them.'
I ADORE this story as I work part-time as an admin in a primary school library, and the only thing that delights me more than seeing kids lost within the pages of a good book, is seeing the kids who love to write their own stories. A little fellow came up to our wonderful librarian one day and asked if she could help him with a story he was working on. And he came back every lunchtime until he had finished it. It melted our hearts so much.
Working as a journo in her native Adelaide, after a few years working in Sydney as a fashion stylist (this talented lady also makes jewellery), Carla's childhood dream came true when she released her first novel, in the romance genre, back in 2012.
But it was her exquisite 2018 contemporary women's fiction release The Right Place https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781489257789/the-right-place/ that first brought Carla to my attention and saw me becoming a huge fan of her writing.
I have long been obsessed with all things Italian. In fact the comment underneath a photograph of me in my Year 12 Yearbook, resplendent with permed hair (it was 1986!), was Ciao Italiano! I had it all planned. After studying nursing at uni, I was going to travel to bella Italia and find myself a hunky Italian man and live Happily Ever After whilst writing novels.
Alas, a 6' 3" blonde haired, blue-eyed Aussie named Shaun, whom I met at uni (and who would later become my hubby...28 years and counting), put an end to my Italian marital plans...but not my love of everything Italian and my dream of writing a novel.
So as you can imagine, I devoured every delectable page of The Right Place, which tells the story of Nella Martini and her return to her late Nonno & Nonna's market garden, Torrente Blu, after inheriting the property. The discovery of her Nonna's cookbook, brimming full of beautiful handwritten, Italian recipes, helps Nella to remember and reconnect with her past...and the gorgeous Adrian Tomaso. Reading this description makes me want to turn the first page all over again.
Carla's upcoming release, due out on July 7th, is The Road to You https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781867234029/the-road-to-youthe-red-dirt-roadrun-for-the-hillsthe-sweetest/ which is described by publisher Harper Collins as 'A collection of feel-good stories about new beginnings from three bestselling Australian authors.'
This book is a collaboration with best-selling Aussie authors Alissa Callen https://www.facebook.com/Alissa-Callen-Author-355366704552838/ & Jacquie Underdown https://www.jacquieunderdown.com/ and I simply cannot wait to read it. Three stories all wrapped up in one book...what more could a girl want on a chilly winter's evening.
Writing is such a solitary endeavour, so in September 2020 Carla and another of my favourite Aussie authors, the ethereal Vanessa McCausland https://vanessamccausland.com.au/ decided to create a nurturing and supportive online space for writers to come together. That space is Not So Solitary Scribes https://www.facebook.com/groups/440978250141020
The about section on the FB page says:
'Being a writer can be a solitary job or pastime. We want to create a space where we can share our daily lives, the books we're reading, what we're writing, and our challenges and inspirations. Somewhere you can reach out and others will immediately understand the joys and sorrows of sitting alone in a room in front of a page ... and endless cups of tea.'
To date the group has over one hundred & thirty members, made up of both well-known authors and emerging writers, and I am honoured to be one of them. It is everything Carla and Vanessa imagined and more. And who could say no to endless cups of tea???
The group even has its own weekly Zoom writing session called Scribblers Ink! where we gather to chat, support each other and write together...before chatting some more. Although the session runs every Friday, writers are free to join as little or as often as they can.
You can click the FB link above to find out more about the group. As Carla says 'The more, the merrier."
So without further ado, I will hand you over to the fabulous Carla.xx
Q1: What piece of advice do you wish you'd been given when working on your very first manuscript?
A: Don’t lose your ‘voice’. And hold onto that feeling of fun and just following your imagination. When I was first published, I had no idea about anything. I knew how to string words together as a print journalist, but otherwise I was just a reader. I wrote fiction as a hobby. I hadn’t studied writing craft or the industry. However, once I got published, I lost my way a bit. I became worried about getting the next book contract, sales, what the competition were doing. And I dabbled in areas that didn’t suit me—like sexier books—and listened to bad advice, like ‘stop wasting time on editing; get your book baby out there’. Now I have published titles I cringe over.
I feel like I had more interest from publishers when I was just doing it for the love of it rather than trying, pointlessly, to read the market. If you don’t offer something that’s uniquely ‘you’ as a writer, how will you ever stand out?
Q2: If you could have written ANY book besides your own, what would it be?
A: The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. She’s been a fave ever since my big sis borrowed a Shopaholic book from the library. I got hooked on the series.
Oh, my goodness, can I also mention Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi? That novel was pivotal for me. I’d never read a book about another ‘wog kid’ before. (Shout out also to the Sweet Valley, Babysitter’s Club, and Dolly Fiction paperbacks from my youth, which brought out my bookaholic tendencies.)
'This is my writing nook in the butler’s pantry! We extended our house last year – and lived on-site. I’d never do the latter again, but the space is great now. In the original reno plans, my office was bigger and sometimes I regret not sticking to my guns about that. But I do like being near the window, the house’s activity, and the kettle.
There’s an office at the front of the house, which I could share with my husband. But it’s colder and darker down that end and too far away from everything. So here I stay. My writing nook is the only space I allow myself to get a little messy.'
Q3: What is the first book that made you cry?
A: Charlotte’s Web. But technically, it was the film version, played at primary school. Sob.
Q4: What is your favourite drink? Coffee, tea, wine or…
A: Green tea in the morning (I only, only like the Tetley brand. Felt like I needed to note that for some reason. Ha!) and Baileys Irish Cream on a night out :-) (Ooh I haven't had a Bailey's in a long time...might have to buy myself some! Shelley.xx)
Q5: What is the next book on your TBR (to be read) pile?
A: Emily Henry’s Beach Read https://www.penguin.com.au/books/beach-read-9780241989524 My writer pal, Samantha Bond https://samanthastaceybond.com/ gifted it to me for Christmas and keeps asking if I’ve devoured it yet. (She’s also on at me about Talia Hibbert’s Get a Life, Chloe Brown https://www.hachette.com.au/talia-hibbert/get-a-life-chloe-brown-the-perfect-fun-and-feel-good-romance ) Problem is, I’m in a few book clubs, and have to get through those novels first, gah.
Q6: Choose one male & one female character from your novel. In a film adaptation, who would you love to see play them?
A: For Run for the Hills, I’ll say Jason Lewis from Sex and the City for the hero, and Bella Thorne for the heroine. On that yarn, by the by … it was e-published several years before being printed in the bind-up, below, The Road to You.
So, my writing style has changed a lot since. At the time, I was trying to be Mills-and-Boony. And I was sleep-deprived with twin babies. Memories…! But I’m pinching myself that I’m book buddies with Alissa Callen and Jacquie Underdown.
For The Right Place, I imagined ‘Adrian’ a bit like Stephen Amell from the Green Arrow series. So he’d be just perfect. And ’Nella’ could go to Pia Miranda as she could produce it too - and she’s an Aussie!
Q7: Name one thing you couldn't live without?
A: My loved ones, of course. And my (recently renovated) home – my sanctuary, where I can hibernate and disappear into imaginary worlds.
'Meet my rescue cat, Luca, my not-so-helpful colleague. He has a glorious life, picking different spots around the house for a snooze each day … when he’s not bugging me for food. He has a ton of character.'
Q8: What is your dream holiday destination?
A: Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera. I want to hang out on a superyacht with Beyonce and co.
(Can I come too?? Shelley.xx)
Q9: If you had to choose a career besides writer, what would it be?
A: Jewellery designer! I actually sell some fashion jewellery at a local store as a little sideline https://www.instagram.com/carla_c_accessories/?hl=en But I’d love to design fine jewellery pieces, particularly cuff bangles. I used to be a fashion editor, so I get a kick out of accessorising and following trends.
Q10: What's the hardest scene you have ever written and why was it so hard?
A: It would have to be writing about the Italian nonna in The Right Place when she’d just moved to Australia. The grandma of my heroine was very much inspired by my own late nonna. And it was only through writing that story (and revisiting an interview I’d once done with her for an assignment) that I realised how hard and lonely it must’ve been for her, moving across the world for the betterment of her family.
(How precious to have the interview to revisit Carla. Shelley.xx)
A collection of feel-good stories about new beginnings from
three bestselling Australian authors.
The Red Dirt Road by Alissa Callen
After losing a patient, Dr Fliss Knight is back in small town Woodlea to embrace the isolation of rural life. But all her plans for solitude run aground when she meets the cowboy who will be staying in the renovated stables at the end of her country garden. Hewitt too has come to Woodlea needing space in which to heal and, despite his reserve, Fliss finds him impossible to ignore.
As a family secret threatens every truth Fliss has ever known, and the heavy spring rain continues to fall, both Fliss and Hewitt must face their deepest fears. But will love be enough to guarantee happiness or will the past refuse to relinquish its dark hold?
Run for the Hills by Carla Caruso
After leaving her wealthy hotelier groom at the altar, Bridie needs to lay low while the media storm passes. Working for a wedding business run by an attractive paparazzo might not be ideal, but it's slim pickings for work in the small Adelaide Hills town of Balkissoch. Cody seeks out secrets for a living, so blurring the lines of their professional relationship is a dangerous game. One they both seem intent on playing.
The Sweetest Secret by Jacquie Underdown
Ellie always falls for the wrong man. After her latest disastrous relationship, opening a florist shop in the small town of Alpine Ridge seems like the perfect fresh start. Local vineyard owner Sam also understands bad relationships and prefers to avoid romance in favour of spending his downtime growing flowers in his backyard greenhouse. When Ellie discovers Sam's nursery, a shared professional interest soon blossoms into something more. But is there a chance for a future together when they are both tied to the past?
Can the past show you the way home?
With her dreams of dominating Melbourne's fashion scene in tatters, Nella Martini has returned to the last place she wants to be – Torrente Blu, the market garden inherited from her late nonna. She just needs to clean up the property, sell it quickly, and avoid run–ins with her neighbour: surly Adrian Tomaso.
But when Nella comes across her nonna's cookbook things start to change. The place, with its endless tomato plants and gallons of olive oil in storage, gets under her skin, as does Adrian with his passion for this life. But her dreams have always meant being anywhere but here – haven't they? Or has the right place been here all this time?
For Esta Feliciano in the 1950s, the right place was her Italian village. But in search of a better life than war–torn Italy has to offer, her husband has moved Esta and their daughter to this alien country, settling on a small, flat piece of land that he calls Torrente Blu. Can Esta come to grips with the harsh Australian sun and strange culture?
Woven with traditional Italian recipes, The Right Place is the heartfelt story of two women's journeys, as they discover how the right place to call home can be where you make it...
Thank you Carla for being my June 15th Author Stalker victim. xx
Run for the Hills & The Right Place are available through bookstores and online.
If you would like to find out more about Carla, you can find her here:
You can find out more about Alissa Callen at https://www.facebook.com/Alissa-Callen-Author-355366704552838/
You can find out more about Jacquie Underdown at https://www.jacquieunderdown.com/