Tomorrow (30th April) sees the publication of Summer on a Sunny Island by Sue Moorcroft, and I know I really don’t need to tell you (again!) that she’s been one of my very favourite authors for rather a long time now. A new book from her is always a cause of celebration here – and, just between us, I’ve had the joy of reading it already and guarantee you’re going to love it just as much as I did. Let me share those all-important buying links. Pre-order the e-book and it could be on your reader of choice by midnight, Kindle, Kobo or Apple i-book: but you might prefer a paperback (that’s a Waterstones link – Amazon aren’t prioritising paperback sales just at the moment) or an audiobook.
Let’s take a closer look at what it says on the back cover…
This summer, sparks are flying on the island of Malta…
When Rosa Hammond splits up from her partner Marcus, her Mum Dory suggests a summer in Malta. Not one to sit back and watch her daughter be unhappy, Dory introduces Rosa to Zach, in the hope that romance will bloom under the summer sun. But Rosa’s determined not to be swayed by a handsome man – she’s in Malta to work, after all.
Zach, meanwhile, is a magnet for trouble and is dealing with a fair few problems of his own. Neither Rosa or Zach are ready for love – but does fate have other ideas? And after a summer in paradise, will Rosa ever want to leave?
The blog tour starts tomorrow – you’ll see I’ll be sharing my own review on 6th May, but I can’t wait to see what everyone else thought too…
It’s a real delight today to welcome Sue as my guest, to tell us more about Malta with Rosa…
When I began writing Summer on a Sunny Island I knew it would be a book close to my heart. I’d been to a service kids’ reunion in Malta with my brothers and sister-in-law. We’d managed to transform a reunion lunch into a ten-day holiday so basing a novel on a similar lunch seemed perfectly reasonable. I gave my heroine’s mum, Dory, a background like mine – an army kid who lived in Malta and who can see little wrong with that tiny Mediterranean country. Dory was, then, easy enough to write. I sent myself up a bit. I gave her my memories, my schooling. My love of Malta.
Then I gave her a daughter, Rosa, who she’d brought up in one little English town and put through school with all the same people.
Rosa is my heroine. As well a mum who’s self-sufficient as a result of her travelling childhood, I gave her Glenn, a dad who’s weak and feckless. At times, I wondered which of these would be more of a trial. Glenn has let Rosa down left, right and centre but Dory, a celebrity cook, sweeps her daughter confidently along with her to a summer in Malta. Dory likes Malta. Dory loves Malta. Dory adores Malta. And Rosa … doesn’t.
It came to me quite early in the writing process that Dory would slip back into living in Malta like an old pair of slippers because, to her, it’s still a home. To Rosa it’s an alien, hot place and to make matters worse, Dory’s single-mindedly trialling recipes for her next cookery book and puts Rosa straight to work in the kitchen as PA and kitchen porter. The sea’s just across the road but she doesn’t get a moment to sample it. When they visit a restaurant it’s for research and Dory orders Rosa’s meal so she can sample the dishes she wants to. The sun reflects dazzlingly from the local stone, prickly pears loll at the side of the road, it’s dry, it’s dusty. It’s all very different from Liggers Moor, the Yorkshire town Rosa’s left behind. In fact, she’s left everything behind because she’s so recently lost so much – her relationship with Marcus, her friendship with Chellice and her job. It’s no wonder that, at first, she’s not in the mood to be pleased by the place Dory gushes over as the next best thing to Paradise.
It left me with a task, though, because, in order to write from someone’s point of view I have to get into their skin, see through their eyes and feel how they feel. Like Dory, I love Malta, so I had to change my whole mindset. I made Rosa have trouble getting used to the heat (whereas I am part lizard and will happily bask in it). She suffers headaches, notices dust and uneven pavements, feels alienated when people speak a language she doesn’t understand and even finds place names tricky because the phonetics of Maltese are not always the same as in English. The roads are too busy, she’s her mum’s employee, Dory tries to fix her up on a date with Zach, there are too many building sites, too many insects and … Rosa’s just homesick for England.
For me, it was the kind of writing exercise I used to give my students. If one was a sixty-year-old woman I’d ask her to write as a twelve-year-old boy playing a computer game. I’d ask a man in his thirties to write as a forty-year-old woman hitting early menopause. Using all the same techniques of research and reflection, utilising all my powers of empathy, I made Rosa lukewarm about Malta.
For a while.
Quite a short while. And then, phew! Dory gives Rosa a break from the kitchen and shows her the sights. Rosa goes snorkelling in the turquoise Mediterranean, she has fun in Paceville bars and marvels at the beauty of the capital, Valletta. She drinks cold wine and eats hot pasta in pavement cafés. She sits out on the terrace in the warm Maltese evenings with the family from the apartment above, Zach, Marci and Paige, and, fancy that! Rosa eventually falls in love with Malta.
Then, of course, I make circumstances back in England start calling her back.
Thank you Sue – everyone’s going to love this one. See you again on May 6th…
Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Sue’s novels of love and life are currently released by publishing giant HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by an array of publishers in other countries.
Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared around the world.
Born into an army family in Germany, Sue spent much of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta but settled in Northamptonshire at the age of ten. An avid reader, she also loves Formula 1, travel, time spent with friends, dance exercise and yoga.
For more information on Sue and her books, she has an excellent website: she also has a Facebook author page, and you can follow her on Twitter. And if you’d like sign up for her newsletter, you can do so here.