Interview with Gillian Bramley-Moore, The Courier Mail, Brisbane, April 10,2010
It was just another day at the supermarket when Phillipa Fioretti got the call that changed everything.â€I was reaching for the tomato paste when the phone went off,â€ she says. It was the Queensland Writers Centre,telling her she had been chosen for the inaugural Manuscript Development Program in partnership with publisher Hachette Australia. â€œI wanted to run up and down the aisles,â€ she says.
After the five-day workshop with seven other writers from across the country, she returned home to Adelaide to work on her manuscript before sending it to Hachette and being offered a contract early last year. â€œItâ€™s a great confidence booster and confirmation Iâ€™ve got some ability. Itâ€™s allowed me to do what I love,â€ she says.
A romantic mystery, The Book of Love is Fiorettiâ€™s first novel.It tells the story of 29-year-old Lily and her petulant boyfriend Robbie, who run a secondhand bookshop in Sydney. When a shipment of old books arrives from Nairobi, Robbie discovers a rare collection of Pompeii erotica worth $20 million. He plans to sell it but is disrupted by William,a handsome Londoner hired by an art firm to discreetly retrieve stolen works.When Robbie disappears, a dangerous quest to find him and the book is complicated by Lily and Williamâ€™s feelings for each other.
Fioretti was born and raised in Sydney, where she studied humanities, visual arts and museum studies. She later worked as a printmaker and taught drawing and media studies at tertiary institutions before moving to Adelaide and becoming a full-time mother. Several years ago when the youngest of her two children turned
nine, she decided the time was right to return to a creative practice. Art,however,had lost its appeal.â€I didnâ€™t feel like going back to art. I wanted to try something different, learn a set of new skills and challenge myself. I wanted to see what writing was like,â€ she says. In two short years she completed three manuscripts. A new passion had been discovered.
Her lawyer father and homemaker mother were both avid readers.â€This is how my family spent their weekends- noses stuck in books,â€ she says. â€œSport was never mentioned. Weâ€™d all scurry off to our cubby holes and read, and birthday presents were always books. It was just the norm for us.â€She writes at home in her study surrounded by books.
â€œItâ€™s not very tidy. Itâ€™s disordered but cosy. I have to have a good coffee but I just enjoy writing so much, when I sit down I donâ€™t need to be pushed,â€ she says. She got the first draft for The Book of Love down in three weeks before hearing about the Manuscript Development Program.
â€œI wanted the book to revolve around something I found really interesting so Iâ€™d have to research areas I love,â€ she says.â€I was always interested in the Classical world. Thatâ€™s how I came up with the idea of Pompeii erotica.â€ Fioretti travelled to Italy with her husband and children before starting the book. She integrated places they stayed into the story. Although she loves reading thrillers and mysteries, Fioretti plans to keep writing romantic comedies for now. She has written a sequel, The Fragment of Dreams, which looks at the realities of relationships after romantic and lustful beginnings. It is due for release next year.â€I havenâ€™t exhausted this genre yet,â€ she says. â€œAnd I donâ€™t want to write things that depress me. I donâ€™t want to be in a dark headspace all day. I like to have a laugh while Iâ€™m doing it.â€