Phillipa Fioretti – The Book of Love

Welcome, Phillipa, I’m delighted to have a fellow Hachette Australia author visiting my blog. I’m looking forward to April and the launch of The Book of Love (out in time for Mothers Day!). The cover is very beautiful.

To celebrate having my first Hachette author I’m giving away a copy of ‘Border Watch’. Look for the question at the bottom of the post. The winner will be announced at the end of the week.

The Book of Love

And now to my guest.

Phillipa, tell us about your writing journey? Did you know from an early age you wanted to pursue writing or was that something that came later?

I’ve always been a big reader. My whole family had their noses stuck in a book when I was growing up and the habit has stayed with me. Reading has always been an escape, a refuge and a pleasurable space and I never wanted to spoil that by attempting to write. What I really wanted to do from a young age was be an archaeologist, but I followed another passion and that was visual art. After twenty years and a couple of children I realised I didn’t want to make art anymore, so I thought I’d have a go at writing and if I liked it, I’d keep going – and it was so much fun and so addictive I’m still at it three years later.

I have no formal creative writing training but with a couple of university degrees I decided to just dive in. Someone suggested a creative writing course, but after years of tertiary study I’d rather pull my own head off than study formally again. I am self-taught in other areas and it’s a good method for me.

I enjoy writing romantic comedy/suspense and I’m quite comfortable focussing on genre fiction. I don’t want to write literary fiction. I still read widely but I enjoy writing comedy and find it a better, healthier headspace to be in than something deeper and perhaps not so funny.

You have a beautiful website – very visual, very luscious, very eclectic.  How do your other artistic talents influence your writing?

Besides reading, pictures have always been important to me.  My father used to bring home photography books from the library and I’d spend hours looking at them. I loved picture books as a kid – still do, (I’ve kept all my favourites from my children’s picture book days and still buy the odd picture book for myself), I like magazines with pictures – art, collections, travel, style, food, fashion, anything with pictures in it or on it – so I’ve taken to blogging like a duck to water because now I can spend hours wandering through Google images and justify it to my long suffering partner.

I’ve set everything I’ve written, including The Book of Love, and its sequel The Fragment of Dreams in the art and antiquities world. But I’d have to say that after twenty years creating prints, sculpture, drawings and so on, the biggest influence I’ve taken with me into writing is an understanding of how to manage the tensions that surround creative work, how to leave things open until they are ready to be closed and not fret about it, how to accept the unknowns and, importantly, learning to trust my instincts. Moving into writing may have been a bit easier for me because I’d done so much of the psychological groundwork that needs to be done with creative work. I still don’t like rejection, however!

Congratulations on being chosen to take part in the QWC/Hachette manuscript development programme in 2008. What were some of the highlights? What impact did it have on your writing?

It’s hard to say what were the highlights because it was all good – meeting and making friends with the other seven writers, the excellent seminars on writing by Kim Wilkins, the talks given by industry professionals – publishers, bookseller, agent, author, and of course, having one to one time with a professional publisher who had read the manuscript and wanted to talk about it. That’s quite a thrill, believe me. I never got around to submitting The Book of Love to anyone. I finished it, three friends read it and then the Manuscript Development program came up so I sent it off, and it all happened very quickly. Having that time to talk about it and think about it – with no cooking or child wrangling may I add – was very precious.

I learned a lot about the craft of writing from Kim’s excellent seminars, (I still refer to the notes I took), and the seminars on how the publishing industry works were very good, fascinating for a beginner like me. Being selected was an enormous confidence boost and participating in such a program gave me a good foundation for what came next, (being offered a contract, editing, setting up the blog and so on), and has still to come.

You’re working on your second book for release in April 2011. How’s that work progressing? What sort of writer are you – someone who plots first and fleshes out later or one who ‘flies by the seat’ of her pants?

I’m a bit of both really. I start with dialogue usually and follow where that goes and as the ideas jell I build up scenes and characters and then ideas start to come and it all has a sort of organic fluidness to it. Then I get tough and start structuring and plotting and getting it all in shape.

The sequel, The Fragment of Dreams, is about to enter the ‘get tough’ phase. I’m hoping to have it finished by the April release of The Book of Love because I don’t want to be influenced by anything other than what I felt the characters would do. It had to be their emotional and psychological imperatives driving them, not what anybody wanted them to do next.

I’ve loved writing about Lily and William, they are almost my friends and I still find them endlessly interesting. So I’ll be sort of sad to let them go, but they need to get on with their lives in that parallel universe where book characters live.

Phillipa Fioretti

Phillipa Fioretti

Thanks Phillipa. It’s been lovely having you on my blog. I know your book will find a home on many, many bookshelves.

You can find Phillipa at or follow her at

And now to the question.  Lily, the heroine in The Book of Love is a passionate jam maker. What’s the most unusual jam you’ve tasted? Leave a comment and Phillipa will pick a winner at the end of the week. The winner will receive a copy of Border Watch as soon as it arrives from the printers.

Thanks for dropping by.


Phillipa was born in Sydney and studied humanities, visual arts and museum studies and went on to work and exhibit as a printmaker, as well as teaching part time at tertiary level. She now writes fiction full time and in 2008 was selected for participation in the Hachette Livre/ Queensland Writers Centre Manuscript Development Program. Married, with two children, when she’s not writing or reading she’s invariably doing something to do with food, watching movies or enjoying time with friends. She likes painting her toenails and eating sweet things, dislikes aquariums and swimming in deep water.


75 thoughts on “Phillipa Fioretti – The Book of Love

  1. Ha logging on via my phone after a hard day’s slog in the garden and you girls are still making me hungry!! Thank you all for your enthusiastic blogging. It’s been a thoroughly entertaining few days!!
    I’ll be guest blogging with Kylie Griffin next week and we’ll have a new topic to discuss at

  2. And I thought it was a husband’s duty to make his wife gooey with delight. What was I thinking? 🙂 I’ve taken all advice on board and just made a most delightful salad dressing using the balsamic glaze and raspberry jam. Popped it in the microwave for a warming experience. I reckon I could eat salad with this dressing ’til the cows come home.

  3. Ooops…have just seen my typo errors from last night – the curse of ripping off posts in a hurry during brief breaks in the Australian Open! 🙂 Damn my tennis addiction….

    “I love to pop them in the fridge and enjoy them with an ice cold cider in the pool after mowing the pool on a hot day…..” ?? As you may have gathered, that was not quite what I meant to say! 🙂 I mow the lawn – my pool does not get quite that feral – and I most certainly can’t walk on water! 🙂 🙂

    Similarly, “often refereed to as a ‘balsamic glaze’” was not quite what I meant. LOL. Although balsamic glaze is referred to, it’s rarely refereed. 🙂 I have vivid images now of the poor vinegar bottle being given a red card for fighting with the salt and pepper shaker twins and being sent to the pantry for 10 minutes. But that’s just me…. 🙂

    Anita I agree, the balsamic mixture with strawberries is delicious! A great light salad, which is perfect on a hot, humid day is hulled strawberries, Spanish onion rings, roasted macadamia nuts and baby spinach all drizzled with balsamic glaze. Throw a few lamb cutlets on the side and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d conned the Big Fella into letting you into heaven…

    Don’t worry Sandy, I won’t be staying up late tonight to watch the tennis 🙂 as I have to get up at 4.30am for work tmrw (it just gets better and better….I have the 10pm to 6am shift the night after!) We’ll still be popping up to Trinity Beach for an early dinner with friends though – my Croatian friend Klaudija makes the most sensational paella I’ve ever had the joy to eat. Last time she made it I was so gooey and drooling with delight that my husband just about had to carry me home in a bucket! (I guess you could say then that every other paella ‘pails’ by comparison!) 🙂

    Sala, Wok Wench.

  4. Girls, I have to say this is the best blog I’ve ever been on. Thank you all so much. Jenn, love the idea with onions – am DEFINITELY going to try that. I see Sala they give ATCs rosters as inspirational as pilots. Groan.

  5. Been reading all the posts with interest, but after Sala’s balsamic and honey glaze comment have to pipe up.

    I love balsamic and sugar poured over chopped strawberries and then left in the fridge for a few hours. Goes thick and sticky and can be served as a topping for fruit salad, ice-cream, pav, cheesecake etc Yummo.

  6. Jenn your comment about your persimmon jam – which I’ve never tried but it sounds really delicious! – took me back to my childhood. That’s no mean feat ;D so well done, and it reminds me of the perils of impatience re persimmon consumption.

    I remember that if you ate them when they were ripe, they were to die for. However, if you ate them before they were ready the consequences were awful. A furry coat of Impatience Punishment Laquer would coat your mouth and leave your tongue feeling like a loofah in a velcro glove.
    🙁 Perhaps this is just God’s way of showing that he has a sense of humour 🙂 but I’m sure many people have been turned off persimmons by this character building experience. 🙁

    Now however, you can get an awesome new variety of persimmons (I buy them from the local Rusty’s Markets) which are delicious (& sans experience horribilus) when they are still firm and crunchy. I love to pop them in the fridge and enjoy them with an ice cold cider in the pool after mowing the pool on a hot day (which equates to 340 or so days per year in Cairns lol)

    You’re absolutely spot on too re enjoying jams/marmalades in ways other than just on toast. I often pop a dollop of jam or marmalade on ice cream. The syrup will often harden and become toffee-like shards and is superb (to play with as well as to eat!)

    *Drools, slides off chair in ecstacy, looks around to confirm no witnesses (‘no witness no crime’), sits back up again and types efficiently and in a most grown-up manner……*

    Earlier Sandy mentioned balsamic vinegar and honey (often refereed to as a ‘balsamic glaze’ when heated a little to thicken the consistency). This is utterly wicked when drizzled over ice cream with berries. The constrast of sweet and sour, creamy and succulent, is unbelievable.

    I’ve served vanilla ice cream with mixed fresh (or frozen) berries, drizzled with a balsamic glaze (the glaze, in various flavours such as strawberry or mandarin, can be bought at Woolies for about $6 if you’re too busy to make it, and a little goes a long way) and a sprig of mint on the side many a time. It’s a sure fire winner with every guest. Inexpensive, visually appealing and caters for all tastes – you can’t go wrong.

    Now am feeling hungry so must grab some supper before hitting the hay and heading back to work for the 8am – 4pm shift tmrw. Yup…life in the farce lane! ;D

    Sala, AKA Balsamic Bin Laden. ;D

  7. Wow! What a great post this has turned out to be! I’ve lingered, laughed and learned lots. Thanks everyone. I’ve NEVER gone back to a post so often to see the next installment.
    Can I add something about jam. Don’t just save it for your brekkie toast. My Manadrin, fig or Persimmon jams are excellent – as is – on chicken and fish (with, for example, a bed of moroccan cous cous – yum!) BUT – to make something different (this is a cheats method) you can caramalise onion or (as I do) just chuck it on the BBQ, then mix it thru an equal portion of jam while still warm and serve as a savoury jam. Your guests will think you are very clever and have been slaving over a jam for hours!

  8. As the celebrity author 🙂 noted, lime would be perfectly okay Sandy, and mandarin would be better still as it’s a little sweeter so would compliment the honey while countering the zing of the vinegar well. A splash of fortified port mixed with it can also give it a nice kick, facilitate all sorts of witty conversations, and improve dancing ability 🙂 The operative word being ‘splash’, not ‘tsunami’…..

    You drive a hard bargain Helene, but okay, I’ll settle for 6 days instead of the previously stated 7 at Reptile Rock. I don’t want to see you dragged through the courts, although any publicity is good publicity! I would thoughtfully smuggle in my own Limoncello to help keep costs down for you, but remembered that all drinkies are included in the tariff…happy days!! 🙂

    I too have had a less than glamourous day. Waded through a pile of ironing (stimulation factor:1), fired up all the fans and lights to stop the house from developing Wet Season Wall/Chair/Curtains etc Fur and am now at work til 9pm playing air traffic control – and yes I am unplugged and on a break at the moment. 🙂

    Must away,
    Ironing Chef 🙂

  9. Oh dear, hope he didn’t discover that trait too soon. Do you think lime would be OK? Lemon is one of the many things I’m allergic to.

  10. Hey, I can answer that one! Finely sliced preserved lemon peel is outstanding!

    And no, I’m free as a bird, back in Cairns, sorting out a checklist (because every pilot has one…) of things to do! GW has correctly identified that if I’m presented with a list, I will soldier on until said list is complete!

  11. Hey Helene, I was beginning to think you’d been taken captive in the bouncing bat cave (Brett loves the analogy) and I was going to have to ask him to rescue you (he’s just left for Sydney).
    This has absolutely nothing to do with jam or Phillipa but a question for your guest celebrity chef. Mistress Sala, what can I add to balsamic vinegar and honey to make a zesty dressing?

  12. Sandy, I think you’re right! The only hitch is if aforementioned celebrity chef chooses not to share her celebrity jam with me… And if the asking price is anything like a week long trip to Lizard Island we may just have to go to court to settle…

    Now back to fixing door and window rollers for me. Who needs a day off???

  13. Crikey, does the settlement offered by MMFL & Partners (in Crime) suggest that writing is money for jam? 🙂 They certainly know how to ‘serve’ notice anyway!

    It would appear that this dinner party would require a good deal of effort on my behalf. Fortunately my week long recuperative stay at, oh, let’s say, Lizard Island would no doubt be funded by the aforementioned celebrity author’s first million in sales of Border Watch. ;D

    Yours in hiding,
    Sala, Mistress Chef. 🙂

  14. Dear Ms Young

    My client – your sister and closest sibling in age – is prepared to accept, in full and complete settlement of her claim against you for damages based on your arbitrary decision to exclude her from this competition – compensation in the form of attendance by her at one dinner party, planned, prepared and provided by a third party – namely an air traffic controller and shift worker based in Cairns with genuine culinary genius who has contributed to this blog and who will be referred to from now on in this document as ‘the celebrity chef’ … on the following terms and conditions:

    1) The dinner party must be planned, prepared and provided by the celebrity chef and up to the celebrity chef’s usual high standards. No substitution allowed.
    2) The dinner party must be attended by at least one Cairns-based published Hachette Australia author referred to from now on in this document as ‘the celebrity author’ – the publication may take place at any time up until the day of the dinner party providing publication takes place before the meal is served. No substitution allowed.
    3) The celebrity author must stay for the entire duration of the dinner party. No substitution allowed.
    4) The attendance by one published Hachette Australia author does not preclude the attendance of any other published Hachette Australia author or authors.
    5) The celebrity author must wear at least one item of clothing bought within the previous three months at Vivienne Francine referred to from now on in this document as ‘the celebrity author’s designer’. No substitution allowed.
    (a) The wearing of one item of clothing bought in the previous three months from the celebrity author’s designer does not preclude the wearing of other items bought outside that time frame from the celebrity author’s designer and may ensure the celebrity author does not attend half dressed.
    (b) The wearing, by the celebrity author, of one item of clothing bought in the previous three months from the celebrity author’s designer does not preclude the wearing by other guests of items bought by them from the celebrity author’s designer during any period of time, or given to them as presents.

    In the alternative you can give my client a jar of the celebrity chef’s jam. Substitution possible.

    Yours etc etc etc MMFL and Partners, Phillips St, Sydney.

  15. Mmmm…I can see there are many not-so-closet foodies in our midst. 🙂 To assist judging of this MOJO (Most Outstanding Jam Offering) Competition, I’ll donate 3 jars of my latest batch of Mango, Ginger & Lime Chutney as runner-up prizes, and will drop them off to the Chateau de Young within the next week for distribution.

    This is the Jan 2010 Vintage and it’s a little beauty – lashings of Bowen Mangoes (sorry Jenn…I know you’re already suffering mango overload trauma at the moment), plump dates, ginger, and zesty, local (as in 3 doors down the street) limes, raw sugar, spices and malt vinegar. It’s one of the most lively, fresh chutneys I’ve made.

    The ginger hues has this chutney dancing all over your taste buds like a rap dancer on steroids and the ginger is so prominant and good for you that I swear it could bring a politician back to life. No really! ;D (Terms and conditions apply, see in-store for details, politician must have been alive at some stage for warranty to be valid, not tested on animals, chef accepts no responsibility, etc, etc…)

    To serve it on the side of a meal or just smooth it on a sandwich is great, but this is also a fantastic marinade thanks to the mango, ginger and lime combination. Smooth it over a steak, chicken or fillet of fish overnight and the flavour will be awesome and the meat beautifully tender. Serve with a salad and it’s light, healthy and quite a journey of discovery for the taste buds! Full of flavour yet not overpowering.

    Now, even this little shiftworker has to hit the hay now. Goodnight folks. 🙂

  16. Hey Helene,
    A word of warning for Bron. If she gets the privilege of dining at Sala’s, don’t go – every other meal for ever after will seem sooooo jaded and BORING.

  17. Dana, how could I forget Gordo’s cooking exploits! And he does have a way with words… Can only imagine what the tennis ladies made of his labels.

    Phillipa, roast fig gelati wil now be on my must taste list. I haven’t tried that one. Good luck choosing the winner 😉 Glad it’s you not me.

    Off for roast lamb with GW – home for two days then back to Sydney and the lurching bat cave. I’m enjoying the humidity and rain.

  18. Hi Noreen, lillipilli jam or chutney is wonderful with lamb! It’s ages since I had any…

    And Sala, my sister wants to know how she gets an invite to dinner at your place???

    Beryl I’m glad you found your way here. Look forward to mandarin jam. I’m still sipping cumquat liqueur courtesy of Sue… That’s divine on crepes and mascarpone cream!

  19. I’ve been away in Melbourne for the last few days and I’ve not had much screen time, so now I’m home I’m gobsmacked at the number of comments and the jams mentioned. It’s going to be one very tough call, can I say.

    I have never been a jam eater, never, until I wrote the character of Lily, and somehow she infected me with her jam cravings. A little bizarre, I know, but odd things happen when you write. I am well acquainted with the Burnt Fig jam Dana mentions – I like to eat that one with a teaspoon and bypass the toast altogether. It is sensational (in Melbourne on Saturday I had roast caramelized fig gelati and it was as you would expect – heavenly) Beryl’s mention of mandarins also made me sit up – I love Haigh’s Mandarin Cream chocolates … I love anything mandarin and so a mandarin jam intrigues. Why is it not a marmalade?
    Thank you to everyone for your lovely comments, I really hope you enjoy the Book of Love and Border Watch. In fact, I’ll be sitting down with a copy of Border Watch with a plate of toast and jam I expect. I’ll be nutting over the winner in the next few days and letting Helene know my choice.

  20. Great interview Phillipa. You probably know, Helena, that jams and chutneys are close to my heart. Sue Brown made an excellent mango chutmey for me this year. It’s a longgggg story. My favourite jam, so easy to make, is mandarin jam. The secret is tight-skinned mandarins. Will make you some next season! Loads of good wishes to you both. Beryl

  21. Hi Helene and Phillipa,

    TBOL sounds like another book to add to my wish list!

    As for jams, “Gordo’s Own” yes the man who taught Helene to fly branched out into jam making around about the same time he dipped his toe into the world of home brew. Not so original for the concept of his “Summer Fruits Marmalade” or his “Strawberry Jam” but more for the musings on his label which advised… “If you don’t want to piss around with your toast, try some of Gordo’s Own…” See, there is a little writer in everyone and yes, the label had a photo of him on it and we all, including the tennis ladies got a jar every year.

    As for the burnt jam, the one and only Maggie Beer makes a sensational Burnt Fig Jam. It is available as just a jam but most people I know enjoy it best in her Burnt Fig and Caramelised Honeycomb Ice Cream, it’s truly worth an hour at the gym or up on Mt Cootha walking Jackson.

    I am really looking forward to seeing both of these books on the shelves.

    Best of luck with it all to both of you,

    Dana. x x

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