Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Santa Montefiore - the interview for Polish readers

Agnes A. Rose - the author of the blog In the Land of Reading & History talks to the British writer - Santa Montefiore. 

Santa Montefiore was born in England in 1970. She grew up on a farm in Hampshire and was educated at Sherborne School for Girls. She read Spanish and Italian at Exeter University and after finishing her secondary school she left for Buenos Aires. She converted to Judaism in 1998 and married historian Simon Sebag Montefiore in the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha in London. She is the author of the international bestseller such as: “Meet Me Under Ombu Tree”, “The House by the Sea”, “The French Gardener” or “The Sea of Lost Love”.

You are one of the most famous writers in the world creating literature for women. Why did you choose this particular kind of literature?

I didn’t deliberately choose to write a certain genre, it’s just the natural way I write – probably the only way I know how to write. 

You started writing books after getting married. Why? Had you never thought about writing books before?

I started writing books as a child – it just took 31 years to get a book published!!

Your first novel is the book entitled “Meet me under ombu tree”. Its storyline is set in Argentina. You spent a year in this country so I wonder how much your stay there inspired you to write this book.

My year there totally inspired the book. I lived there and fell in love with the country and the people I met – then I left and returned to England, regretting very much that I had to leave.  When I returned a year later it wasn’t the same. The young people I had hung out with had all dispersed across the globe, to study and work, and the farm where I had spent so much of my time was no longer full of my friends. Also, I wasn’t working like I had been, so I was suddenly a tourist in a place where once I had truly belonged. I was a tourist and it felt as if I had lost something very precious.  I suppose I had: my sense of belonging!  So, I wrote “Ombu” as an allegory of my love affair with Argentina.  It was cathartic and wonderful, because I was able to relive my experiences.  The story and the people are all invented, but the place is exactly as I knew it.

The novel “Meet Me Under Ombu Tree” very quickly became an international bestseller. Did you expect such success writing this book? Do you remember what you felt then?

It’s extraordinary to think that so many people love that book and enormously flattering! It totally swept me away! When the book came out I worried who would buy it and made all my friends go out and purchase it so I sold at least a few copies! I write to entertain and to touch people on an emotional and spiritual level – the greatest part of my job is when people write to me and tell me that they love my stories.  Bestsellers lists are nothing in comparison to that.

I must admit that each of your books is remarkable, simply magical and very touching. Where do you draw ideas for writing them? Are there any real-life stories/experiences behind any of your books? Or is all of it pure fiction?

I think they’re a mixture of both.  I am a sum of my experience and everything I have lived through, seen and heard goes into the cauldron out of which I draw my characters, settings and plots.

Some of the characters of your books very often must deal with the painful experiences of their past. Most of us also fight our own demons. Is really the past so important for us? Maybe we should leave it all behind and never look back?

I don’t think one should look back if it is painful. The present moment is the only reality and the future is just a projection of our hopes and dreams. I like looking back because I love to remember my past. I’m very nostalgic.  However, sometimes in order to make sense of the present one has to make sense of the past.  In order to find happiness the past has to be understood before it can be let go.

I’m sure each of your novels is very important to you. But do you have a favourite one?  

I have certain favourites, but they are all special to me!  At the time of writing each book I felt like it was my best work – now looking back, I think some are better than others, but they all contain a part of me and they’re all written from the heart.

Has any of your books been filmed yet? If not, would you like it to happen? Which would you most like to see adapted for the big screen/silver screen?

I’ve love my books to be made into movies or mini series – I think “Ombu”, “The French Gardener”, “The House by the Sea” and “Secrets of the Lighthouse” would make good adaptations.  Nothing yet… but you never know…

If you had to choose your profession once again, would it also be writing?

Singer songwriter.

What do you read every day? Do you have your favourite kind of literature or authors?

I love lots of authors both contemporary and classic. They have to be beautifully written, profound and heartwarming. My favourite authors are Isabel Allende, Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, Dumas, Mary Wesley, Philippa Gregory and Garcia Marquez.

What are your plans for the nearest future associated with writing? Are you working on a new novel?

I have finished The Beekeeper’s Daughter, which will come out next year and I’m planning the next.  I’m also working on a children’s book with my husband.

Finally, is there anything you would like to tell your Polish readers?

That I’m enormously grateful for their support.  Thank you!

Thank you very much for this interview. On behalf of myself and all the other Polish fans of your work, I wish you further success and many more great books in the future. 

If you want to read this interview in Polish, please click here

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