Hi Katy, thanks for coming along today. I’m excited to know that your new novel “The Secret” will be released shortly.
Please tell us a bit more about it.
Hello Cristina – thanks so much for inviting me onto your lovely blog today to talk about the setting for my new novel.
The Secret is set in Tuscany, in the same village as The Silence which was published last year. The village is called Santa Zita and is entirely fictional but is inspired by lots of villages in the Lucca area of Tuscany – enclosed within its walls, the houses clinging to the rock.
It’s an area of craggy mountains, deep gorges and hilltop villages which from below look like little kingdoms. They each have their own character, traditions and folklore. And if they chose I imagine they could guard a secret for many years.
I think you’d like Lucca, the main town, Cristina, because it’s encircled by 4km of city walls which are perfect for running – although you might have to dodge the odd bicycle and rickshaw.
There are several towers to climb with wonderful views, and lots of squares with cafes where you can sit and watch the world go by.
The area’s ideal for riding, mountain biking, kayaking and canyoning. You can go dolphin spotting from Viareggio, visit an adventure park or the Grotta del Vento (the Wind Cave). Or take a cable car up to the mountains to ski in winter or cool off in summer.
And of course the food is fantastic!
You can also visit the remains of the Gothic Line fortifications which the Nazis built to hold back the Allied soldiers as they advanced up through Italy. It’s hard to imagine the devastation the war caused for the civilians caught up in it but I’ve tried to capture this in my story.
I’d advise anyone thinking of going to this part of Tuscany to go in spring when the snowy mountains provide a lovely backdrop and everything’s in blossom.
Publication day for The Secret is 1st June for the ebook (£1.99) but it’s available for preorder now at http://mybook.to/thesecretjohnson
The paperback is available now at £6.99.
Two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy share a secret that has devastating consequences. Against a backdrop of poverty, fear and confusion during the Second World War, friendship is tested and loyalties divided until a chance encounter changes everything.
The girls’ lives diverge when beautiful, daring Martina marries and moves into Villa Leonida, the most prestigious house in the village while plain, studious Irena trains to be a teacher. But neither marriage nor life at Villa Leonida are as Martina imagined. And as other people’s lives take on a new purpose, Irena feels left behind.
Decades later a tragedy at the villa coincides with the discovery of an abandoned baby, whose identity threatens to re-open old wounds.
Thanks so much for sharing this with us today Katy. I read and really enjoyed “The Silence” and I’ve already pre-ordered “The Secret” and I’m looking forward to finding out more about Martina and Irena.
You can find out more about Katy and her work here:
Katharine Johnson is a journalist with a passion for all things Italian (except tiramisu). She grew up in Bristol and has lived in Italy. She currently lives in Berkshire with her husband, three children and madcap spaniel. When not writing she plays netball badly and is a National Trust room guide.
Good luck with the new release Katy and I hope to have you back soon with details of other writing projects!