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. Sandy – hi there! What a small world…I didn’t twig that ‘Sandra’ was yourself. I trust that you and Brett are thoroughly enjoying life back in Nth Qld, with the ‘kids’ ;D I can’t imagine either of you licing in Canberra although in retrospect I know that you would both make the most of wherever you lived and have a good time. 🙂

    Jenn – I wasn’t sure at first if ‘Wagtail’ referred to the Willy Wagtail birds, dogs or just happy & contented partners, but it sounds like a magic stopover. ;D The ironic thing about the posting today is that as you were pondering how to efficiently utilise enough mangoes to feed a small Pacific nation, I was doing the same with dozens of lemons which a friend down the road gave me. 🙂

    I raced to the local Dan Murphy’s temple, prayed & paid for 2 bottles of Vodka. I then lightly (so as to not take off any bitter pith) peeled about 15 of the lemons and put them in the Vodka bottles. These will sit in the wine rack for about 3 months until the citrus is well and truly infused through the Vodka. I’ll then add the filtered Vodka to some water in which raw sugar has been dissolved and the result will be mighty fine Limoncello!

    With the 15 now naked lemons and the 15 more conservatively dressed counterparts, I decided to make a few jars of preserved lemons to use in the coming months in cous cous dishes, tagines, casseroles etc. I popped the denuded lemons through the juicer and cut the intact lemons into quarters. The kitchen knives were by now flying backwards and forwards like a Dash 8 on decidedly dubious air traffic control radar vectors…

    The quarters were placed in the jars then topped up with juice and salt. By using lemon juice and salt instead of just brine, the taste will be more intense and pure. It will also ‘cook’ the lemons quicker than simply having them in brine….think lemon carpaccio….

    It also got me wondering: mangoes have 9 times as much vitamin C as oranges. The scent of the skin of fresh mangoes is very luscious and inviting. I wonder if you could make a ‘Mangocello’ using the same method….and if so it would surely have to be very good for you….. 🙂

    And another idea re the mangoes. 🙂 Puree them and freeze them in standard ice cube trays. Pop them out of the trays and put them in freezer bags so that you can defrost as many as you need quickly. Pefect for mango daquiris at the drop of a hat.

    To make it even quicker, mix the mango puree with a daquiri mix (return visit to the temple of Dan Murphy required – oh dear) at the prep stage and freeze it. Then when you go to serve a daquiri at short notice, you need only add a dash of soda water or champers into the blender for some zing, & pop a wee garnish on the side. Nothing says “you’re on holidays” like a mango daquiri in a chilled glass with a salt encrusted rim….

    Re the food dehydrater, you can get them at an Myers or electrical store for about $120 – $200. A bit of an outlay to start with but bear in mind that you can also use it for other fruit and veges during their peak seasons. I have a lot of friends with no cooking training whatsoever who use their kits to build up an enviable collection of dried tomatoes, apples, bananas etc. Once you buy one of those babies even the neighbourhood cats won’t be game to stand still for more than a few minutes… 🙂


  2. Wow, all that food talk is making my mouth water. Thanks for all the mango ideas. My F-i-l used to be the jammaker -gooseberry and rosella and marmalade mostly. I’ve tried grapejam and for my indigenous cooking class we tried lillypilly jam. A bit tart but edible with the right lillypillies. There should be a good mango jam recipe on abc(wireless) website as it was mentioned on the Saturday gardening program (Cairns). Look forward to reading your book Phillipa as I like art and antiquities.

  3. I had to call back to tell you this one, Helene. Toe Jam. 🙂 Kack. lol….

    Another favourite of mine is Passionfruit Jam. It’s similar to Lemon Jam, but has a lovely passionfruit taste.I used to buy it up north closer to Nambucca Heads, but the lady who made it disappeared.

    Enjoyed the interview. I love hearing about other authors. Off to check out Phillipa’s website now. Oh and the other blog… perhaps I may get some sleep tonight. 🙂

  4. Sue, welcome!

    Glad you enjoyed the interview with Phillipa. A girlfriend phone me tonight who said she wanted to be living Phillipa’s life – archeology, visual arts, kids and now a soon to be best selling author! So Phillipa if you need a ‘life double’ we have one waiting in the wings for you!!

    Can’t say I’ve ever had gooseberry jam though but wiling to try it!

  5. Hey Sala,
    Hi from Brett Griffin and Sandy! Long time no hear! And to all who have doggies Wagtails is THE BEST B&B on the coast. We were fortunate enough to stay there with the kids when we moved from Canberra to Brissy in April last year. Go and stay the weekend – you won’t regret it.

  6. The most unusual jam I’ve had would have to be cape gooseberry. My Dad’s sister used to grow them and make the jam. Quite tasty.
    Thanks for the interesting interview. Whether or not I win the free copy of your book Helene, I will be buying a copy or two for family members who enjoy a good read.

  7. Not only does Sala cook beautiful dinner parties, design garden’s as good as anything Jamie Durie dreams up and run marathons, she’s also the world’s best Air Traffic Controller (I may be biased but only a tad!).

    It’s possible that she is also the only woman issued with more words to use in day than I am… Don’t get the two of us together if you want to get a word in edgeways!! And now she’s made me really really hungry…

    Jen, I love the name of your B&B – Wagtails I figured were the bird variety… I should know better than to assume…

  8. Oh Sala – you’re a hoot. About licking that mango off. YOu need to know that is actually a dog friendly B&B, so licking does happen LOL. I was kinda hoping for things to do with mango that won’t make me look like ten-ton-Tess by the end of the season. Those ideas (especially the ones involving alcohol)are all sooooo yummy. I really would like to know about drying mango. I guess I need a drying thing-a-me-bob???? Thanks Phillipa and Helene for this blog post – excellent info.

  9. Hi Jenn,

    As a Cairns resident I too am buried in a sea of mangoes at this time of year. If you run a B&B, may I suggest you dry the mangoes so that guests can enjoy them year round (& buy packets of them for their travels when they leave!) It is a piece of cake to do, is a handy little revenue raiser, great holiday momento and is the perfect way to extend the mango season.

    As well as mango ice cream (great with hot desserts in winter) I make light and tangy mango sorbet by blending ingredients such as ginger, Cointreau or Malibu, etc with the mangoes. I’ve even done a mango and Scotch sorbet which was a huge hit with the ‘blokefolk’ at a recent dinner party. 🙂

    Also, mango cheescake is always popular at our place (with roasted macadamia nuts on top), and since you don’t need fresh mango for it, it’s a perfect way to use frozen mango and keep that tropical mango theme going throughout the year.

    Another lovely dessert is to cut the mango cheeks, then cut a criss-cross pattern across them and turn them outwards, so they present beautifully. Sprinkle a little raw sugar over them then slide them under the grill until the sugar is caramelised. A dollop of cream and a splash of Frangelico and you have a sure fire winner, which requires no effort whatsoever. This can also be a great breakfast with finely chopped mint and ginger sprinkled atop (& sans the Frangelio….or not. Lol)

    How about a mango and paw paw blend meat tenderiser? As well as infusing steaks with a soft, tropical taste, this mixture will tenderise the toughest of steaks, and you can intensify & customise the flavour easily by adding ginger, garlic and some sauce such as oyster or black bean.

    Lastly, to really make your B&B stand out and increase business by word of mouth, you could provide a complimentary small dish of pureed mango (again, it doesn’t have to be fresh mango although that is nicest of course), sugar and ginger &/or mint for guests to use as a body scrub. What better way to start a holiday than by literally gently scrubbing your body and starting afresh? ;D I use it myself now and then as a gentle face mask and my skin always feels beautifully soft and alive when I rinse it off (try as I may I just physically couldn’t lick it off!)

    Hmm…maybe a good idea for honeymooning B&B visitors there, but I digress…. ;D

    Sorry Helene – these aren’t exactly recipes as such but I know what it’s like to be buried under a mountain of mangoes and not want to waste any!


  10. Mary, welcome to my blog. You gave me some lovely encouragement when I was just starting, so a public thank you for that!

    Hope you make your deadline with days to spare. Have to laugh at burnt jam – there’s nothing quite like the flavour of sugar that’s caught in the bottom of the pan. Just how does something so sweet go so bitter? If I’d paid more attention in physics I’d probably know the answer to that…

  11. Rob, hope that shoulder’s improving. I love chilli chocolate so I’m sure chilli jam would be a hit at a Turtle’s BBQ! You’ll need to bring some down.

  12. Jenn, thanks for visiting. You must be the Australian Queen of Jam! Your garden sounds amazing – what’s a persimmon tree look like??

    Glad you’ve liked my site. Phillipa’s site is very beautiful – you’ll enjoy exploring it!

    And hope that song disappears if not the images of Richard Gere! Nothing like a good looking man to brighten the day.

  13. Anita, tomato jam is wonderful. I have these great images of bikies with beards, tatts and leather sipping tea at Paluma. Beautiful!

    Anyone out there have a recipe for it???

  14. Did enjoy your interview, Phillipa and thank you Helene for putting the notice about it on the RWA loop – which I’m slow to read as on a deadline right now. However, don’t want to miss out saying how interesting I found all your comments and especially about that Manuscript Developement programme. My brother entered last year’s but unfortuantely wasn’t one of the winners.
    And jam? Weeell…haven’t heard anyone mentione this ‘unusual’ one but my dear daughter-in-law just had her first attempt at making some but I’m not too keen on that slight burnt flavour. LOL!

  15. Hey Helene and Phillipa,
    Anita, what a trip down memory lane! We used to live in Townsville and cherish every memory of an Ivy Cottage visit. Used to love their home made mince pies followed by scones with, yes, that memorable tomato jam. Mmm, heavenly. On a par with that is guava jam the locals used to make on Lord Howe Island. I used to stock up when we’d go on holidays, unfortunately all the trees have been pulled out now. 🙁
    Sorry to hear about your upcoming litigation with MFL&P Helene, if you need a character reference I’m sure we can come up with something. I mean, how much more would you need that two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels bearing placards that read WE LOVE AUTY HELENE?

  16. Sorry – me again. I have a complaint, Phillipa and Helene. For the last two hours (ever since reading this blog) I have been singing the same line from the same song – The Book of Love – over and over AND seeing Richard Gere in that amazingly sexy scene from Shall We Dance (which is where I know the song from). (If you haven’t seen it, get the DVD!) Of course, ‘m not complaining about pictures of Richard Gere in my head, it’s that I can’t sing and I only know one line. There are now knives missing from the kitchen draw and my partner’s face has an odd grimace. LOL

  17. G’day Helene and Phillipa!

    Many thanks for an interesting interview and many thanks for all the hard yards to put together ‘Border Watch’ and ‘The Book of Love’. Although I am a traditionalist when it comes to jams: red currant; raspberry, etc…..The most unusual jam has to be a home-made effort put together by a friend in Hendra: multiple varieties of chillies with varying degrees of sweetness or heat, all wrapped up with a bit of ginger. Sounds shocking, but it was truly a ‘more, please’ item! All the best for continued success. Cheers!

  18. I’ve discovered the joy of reading new books and doing a book review, so if you want to send one my way I’d love it.
    As for jams – I run a B&B in Coffs Harbour and I make jams from whatever is growing on my property. I pick it, cook it and see what happens. I now put jars in the room and people buy them after having them on thier toast. So far I’ve done mandarin, persimmon (yum), lime and orange marmalade and with 6 mango trees and the first mango season in 6 years I am madly making mango jam (and mango chutney and mango jelly and mango ice-cream!!!!!) Anyone with mango ideas, pls tell me. I have buckets of them. Even too many for the bats and the birds LOL

    Helene (I love your site) – thanks for having Phillipa as your guest. I’m off to nosey around now. (Oh and in case you haven’t worked it out by now, I write really looooong novels – just like I blog LOL

  19. Hi Helene and Phillipa. What a marvellous array of jams already mentioned. But mine would have to be Tomato Jam! Unfortunately it is closed now, but Ivy Cottage at Paluma (north Qld) used to sell devonshire teas with scones smothered in the most delicious jam I’ve ever had – I wish I had the recipe. I’d make myself learn to make jam just to have more.

    All the tough bikey boys would ride the long curvy road up the rainforest covered mountain to the little town on top, just to sit in their leather jackets, pinkys out while they delicately sipped their devonshire tea – just to have the scones and tomato jam.

  20. Ha, door jam! I almost found that one last night when I woke up in my hotel room with no idea where I was…

    Lemon butter jam sounds like it would be perfect in a Lemon Meringue – one of my favourite desserts.

    Thanks for stopping by Suzanne!

  21. Nice try, Liz!

    Yes, Phillipa is judging so there can be no claims of favouritism from you or Bron… (At least you didn’t resort to legal action…)

    I think you’ll prefer The Book of Love too. It’s sounds fabulous!

    And when’s your blog going live???

  22. Jam? Mmm not too keen ( except for raspberry and a suggestion such as that would scarcely win me the book ) I am partial to marmalade .. Again not earth shattering originality but I think honesty is the best policy .. fingers crossed I win the prize .. Actually think I’d prefer ” the book of love ” is that a possibility for my prize ? ( Phillippa is judging not Helene I assume ..)

  23. Anna, I use the same excuse for watching Sea Patrol… Has nothing to do with a couple of cute men,

    And I’ve just realised my blog does emoticons! Thank you – I just have to work out how to do the clapping one.

  24. Actually, Helene, all jokes aside, I do use the stuff I see on Pay TV in my books. They seem to do a whole stack of UK property programs and things like Bargain Hunt and Antiques Roadshow where I can get that period detail. The property programs are great for scouting locations. Sigh, and for making me want to go back to the UK for a holiday! Whether I enjoy them or not is immaterial, right? Snicker!

  25. Dear Ms Young

    Your reply cleverly avoides the issue central to my client of the damage caused to her by your abitrary decision. Please come and see me if you need a third career. Yours etc etc et MMFL and Partners, Phillips St, Sydney.

  26. Hi Anna, pretty please with jam on top? Groan… You’re so right about fig jam – bit like a tamarind and ginger number I love eating with curries. Looks disgusting but tastes good.

    Every time I visit my Mum I watch the Antique Roadshow (it’s the only time I’m near a TV at that time of the afternoon) and it’s fascinating. What obscure treasures some people have hiding in a dark cupboard. I’ll be looking out for some of those in Captive of Sin when I reread it 🙂

  27. Dear Muche Moore for Less, in seeking legal counsel my sister has clearly misrepresented the situation to you and neither of you read the question! Her lack of jam making skill is irrelevant. She only needs to NOMINATE her favourite jam – not cook it…

  28. Ack! Apologies, Phillipa. It’s very early in the morning and I spelt your name wrongly. I was dazzled by the possibility of winning Helene’s book, you see, so just blame her! 😉

  29. Hey, Helene! Hi Philippa!

    Helene, I’m batting my eyelashes in a very winning way just down the road from you (well, in global terms, the Sunshine Coast IS just down the road from you!). I’d LOVE to win a copy of Border Watch. Pretty please with jam on top?

    Philippa, I love reading about your inspirations and how you came to writing. I’ve always loved stories based around the visual arts so I’m looking forward to reading your book. I laughed at your research techniques – I love anything lovely and old. So I kid myself that watching the Antiques Roadshow is serious research! Yeah, right!

    Ugh, fig jam. Always looks like something nasty that the dog left behind to me. Even if you tart it up with ginger or peach or something. I can tell you the best jam I ever had – my mother used to make the most magnificent apricot jam. Seriously, food of the gods!

  30. Hello Helene and Phillipa – great interview. I’ve watched Phi’s career take off over the past couple of years and it’s genuinely exciting to watch and cheer her success. With a mild twinge of envy, of course.

    Cactus jelly is sold in Arizona. They do take the needles out first.

  31. Dear Ms Young

    I have been asked to lodge a formal complaint on behalf of my client – your sister and closest sibling in age – over her arbitrary exclusion from this competition based, as she understands it, on your close family relationship and the fact that, on the balance of probability, your DNA is almost identical to hers. She believes that she has suffered material damage through this decision as she will now have to pay for ALL the additional copies of your book that she plans to buy to send to friends and relatives when it comes out in May. The fact that she has little interest in jam and no known skills as a jam maker are only of theoretical relevance to the possible outcome of the competition and not to the principle at stake. Yours etc etc etc Muche Moore Fore Less and Partners, Phillip St, Sydney Australia

  32. Ahhh, that’s where it went. Maybe you were polite enough to say you liked it and so (generous soul that I am) I gave it to you!

    And ditto on the pressies!

  33. hi Helene
    re that kiwi fruit and ginger jam you mentioned … I think you did give it away because I had one just like it on my shelf for ages …. can’t have been a christmas present though because you give WONDERFUL christmas presents …. and WONDERFUL birthday presents …

  34. Hi Alexander, I can’t say I’ve ever seen purple yam jam – sounds like a good name for a rock band!

    And what a great idea for Phillipa’s launch party – it sounds like it would be something her leading lady, Lily, would organise.

  35. Jane, mango and banana? Why haven’t I heard of this before? It would be a best seller in North Queensland – or at least we’d have loads of the raw ingredients…

  36. Ha! That’s an easy one!

    Purple Yam Jam. It’s a big deal in the Philippines, apparently.

    Maybe that’s how you should cater the launch of TBOL! Scones and jam! 🙂

  37. I have long been an admirer of Phillipa’s artistic endeavours and am very proud of my Sooty Oyster Catcher print. I am looking forward to the day I present her novel at my local bookstore for bagging and payment.
    The jams of my childhood always included rhubarb, which was used to bulk up black currant, raspberry and plum jams to name but a few. It’s not so much the taste that was different but the texture and the spreadability.

  38. Enjoyed reading this article, thank you, as Phillipa is my erstwhile neighbour, and I am finally getting hear a little about what the Book of Love is about. I’m tantalised…can’t wait!

    As for jams, I too am an afficionado..amd can claim mango and bana jam to my credit, having lived in new caledonia for a few years. But I think my mother-in-law’s (or my bell-mere acutlaly) Guava Jam woudl have to take the cake for me.

  39. Our first visitor! Welcome, Fleur.

    Peach jam? Umm, that does sound kind of weird…. I think the worst I’ve had was some bizarre kiwi fruit and ginger concoction I bought at a market in Eumundi. Couldn’t even give it away…

    And can’t wait for Blue Skies to hit the shelves in April!

  40. Hi Phillipa and Helene! Great interview once again Helene (maybe you should have been a journo!)

    I love hearing about how other authors write, flesh out their plot and so forth, so Phillipa, I enjoyed reading your journey.

    Unusal jam? Well how about peach? Not an experience I want to repeat!

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