Tuesday 9 January 2018

#DreamingOfFlorence || Guest Post

Fresh pasta, red wine, fine art… and love? Find enchantment this year in the magical city of Florence

When Debbie Waterson’s bicycle crashes into handsome doctor Pierluigi, she wonders if her luck has changed. Determinedly single after ending a long relationship, at last, a man worth bumping into!

 Inspired to visit Florence, she soon runs headlong into that old foe: reality. But is Pierluigi the man of her dreams? Then there’s her booze obsessed boss, his forbidding secretary and her noisy inconsiderate neighbours. But could her luck be about to change? Will she find love after all?

 Warm-hearted and unputdownable, Dreaming of Florence is the perfect escape for readers of Holly Martin, Tilly Tennant and Jenny Oliver.

Guest Post

TA (Trevor) Williams tells us why Debbie, the leading lady in his latest book, Dreaming of Florence, is an English Language Teacher.

It’s because I used to be an EFL teacher.

A long time ago (I am very old) I was offered a job in an English language school in Italy. Altogether, I lived over there for almost eight years and it provided me with a wealth of memories and experience to draw upon in my writing. It also provided me with an Italian wife – I fell foul of that common occupational hazard for those involved with adult education – I fell in love with one of my students. We recently celebrated out forty-second wedding anniversary, so that worked out pretty well.

If you read Dreaming of Florence, you will come across numerous situations that are the products of my own direct experience. There’s the location of the school in the book. That place, just fifty metres from Piazza del Duomo, was where I went to work, passing the iconic cathedral everyday, and relishing the feeling Florence gives you that you are walking on the very same streets as Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci. On a cold winter night, when the flood of tourists has dropped to a handful, walking down a narrow lane between Renaissance palazzi can send shivers up and down your spine.

Debbie’s interview for the job in Dreaming of Florence is also based on my original interview. Mine took place in London, in the back room of a travel agency in Soho, and quickly moved on to an Indian restaurant where I made the mistake of agreeing to have what my future employer was having. Unfortunately he had a penchant for hurricane-strength vindaloo curry, which was so hot that within a very short space of time my tongue and lips had swollen so much, I could barely speak. He was clearly in a similar state, but he knew what was needed. Raising four fingers to a passing waiter he ordered four pints of lager, and I swear there was steam coming out of my mouth as I swallowed the first of my beers. Anyway, as a result, Debbie’s interview and her boss are based on mine.

Adult education meant mostly evening work and resulted in a vampire lifestyle – sleeping during the day and coming to life at night. Lessons would often go on until 10.00pm and it could be well past midnight before we got home. When, like Debbie, I found myself involved with the admin side of things, it meant for a long day, starting at nine and often not finishing until ten at night. When the weekend came around, I was oh so grateful. But what TEFL gave me (and Debbie) was the chance to meet and make friends with some lovely people – the staff and the students. I made friends back then that I still count among my best friends today.

I can still remember how lonely I felt at first – and remember, for me that was in a time without mobile phones or social media. Communication was an expensive international telephone call, or by letter. There’s something about finding yourself in a foreign place, surrounded by foreign people, only barely understanding what people are saying, that can affect even the most confident of people. But, you just have to get on with it, and that’s what I did, and what Debbie does in Dreaming of Florence. And it all worked out for me – and I promise you it also all works out for Debbie.

I hope you get the chance to read the book and, as you do, remember that a lot of what I describe in the book really happened to me.

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