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September CSR Discussion Day: La Bella Vacanza by James Carnarvon



Well, how has your September gone? Do you feel like you need a vacation? I do! If you do too, I hope that you took it and enjoyed a bit of a sidetale with James Carnarvon's La Bella Vacanza! Make sure you share your thoughts in a comment below this interview. 

Do you eat your fruits and vegetables?

Yes! I especially like Mediterranean vegetables like aubergines, courgettes and tomatoes… which should surprise exactly no-one…

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love listening to music, which also really helped me to find my way into my first Ravello story. I enjoy reading, but I have little time for that when I’m writing. I also like to explore interesting places, much as my fictional characters tend to do.

What’s something personal about you people might be surprised to know?

I have an adopted teenage son who has read some of my work.

What's your favorite room in your home? Do you plot or write there?

The living room, which is also my writing room. It’s more cluttered than I’d like, but it’s where I work. I do most of my plotting and writing late at night when I’m on my own.

What brought you to GA?

I forget exactly! I imagine I was looking for somewhere to publish The Summer of the Firefly, and GA was the site I found. I still think it was the right choice – the community here has been an enormous source of encouragement and support.

Have you personally been to Ravello or is the setting based on research?

Ravello is an inspiration – without it there’d be no stories! I’ve been there several times, albeit my writing is also supported by a lot of desk-based research. Over the years I have explored Ravello extensively, although there’s always more to discover in the mountainous hinterland. La Bella Vacanza is based directly on my first visit when I was a teenager – albeit without the exciting poolside encounter, sadly!

What is your favorite part of Italian living/culture to write about?

I think the thing that fascinated me about the place, which ultimately led me to write The Summer of the Firefly, was the wonderfully friendly, welcoming and family-centric culture, which conceals a strongly conservative streak that could be problematic for LGBTQ+ people. In a quiet, safe place like Ravello (I can’t speak for the big cities so much), children in particular seemed to live a free, idyllic sort of life that I admired and envied – but I could see potential trouble ahead for the queer ones. The other things I love about the place – the food, the scenery and all the other sights, sounds, smells and colours –  they were just a bonus!

La Bella Vacanza is a story somewhat set apart from your series. What prompted this plot?

Having read and absolutely loved Comicality’s hilarious but touching unfinished story Jesse-101, I wanted to have a go at writing something more comedic. The best and freshest way to do this seemed to be by bringing in an outside perspective (Reza) and telling the story in a deliberately lightweight and frothy sort of way (a summer holiday). The decision to set the story back in time and bring Reza into contact with the main characters from The Summer of the Firefly when they were still young had a double rationale: Gianni and Angelo seemed like the natural choice of characters for Reza to meet and banter with, and I also – just possibly – may have longer term plans for Reza as a character that necessitated this temporary time-shift.

Is there a favorite line or section of this story you love the most?

Probably any scene where Gianni and Angelo are laughing together (free of angst for once) and teasing Reza about his friendship with Otto. It may be a little overdone and repetitive, but what can I say – unlike my other work, La Bella Vacanza was a speed-writing project!

Can you share anything about your current or upcoming work with readers?

My work at GA is on hold for the moment while I have a second go at writing a children’s novel. However, I do have some ideas for a possible follow-up to Lanterns in the Dark. The story would probably be set during the following spring or summer. There’s a lot still to decide – I don’t even know yet who the main point-of-view character will be, whether it will be one of my teenage characters as usual, an adult for a change or maybe a bit of both.

Stay tuned!

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My reading pile is just getting bigger and bigger! I can't wait to dig into La Bella Vacanza. I'm sure it won't be the only piece I stop to read and fall in love with by this author. 

Loved this little glance behind the scenes!


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September totally flew by, and I definitely need a vacation!  I have to wait till November though *pouts*  This was an interesting interview and I'll add the story to my ever-growing list.  

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