'Tony stood on the crest of the hill and looked out over the misty morning scene in the valley below. A wide curve of stripped and pruned olive trees embraced orderly rows of skeletal vines, dipping down into the valley and disappearing into the crook of the hill before reappearing on the next, and the next again.
He knew they crossed ancient boundaries, one farm’s land merging into that of another, an endless swathe fading into the distance as if they crossed the whole of Umbria. It amazed him, how there could be so much open land, so much space, quietly waiting for the first touch of spring.
He breathed deep and his lungs expanded and craved more. After years of shallow city breathing, he drank in the clean air as if making up for lost time....'
That’s Tony, the hero of A Different Kind of Honesty, in one of my favourite ‘rooms.’ You’ll be able to guess from the cover of the book where that might be. Umbria, right in the centre of Italy, is a place I go back to time and time again. For some reason, the second I get off the plane and my feet touch the ground, I feel as if I’m home. Why this should be, I can’t explain - but I know I’m not alone. I’ve met many people of different nationalities and cultures, Europeans, Americans, Japanese, who feel just the same way. Italy has a way of capturing your heart and your soul, and making you truly feel as if you’ve come home. No, it’s not where I come from, and it may never be the place I live, but like the saying goes, ‘home is where the heart is,’ and I know where my heart loves to be.
This is my favourite room. I love this photograph of the statue of St Francis of Assisi, looking out over Umbria as if he’s seated in his favorite room and loving the view from his window. He was a guy who knew a bit about quieting the spirit and contemplation of what’s really important in a person’s life, and no, you don’t have to be religious to appreciate that feeling. When I look at this landscape, my first reaction is to take a deep breath, and it’s as if all the stresses and strains of everyday life evaporate. I can almost physically feel my heart rate slow down, and my spirit is calm.
Here is where I find room to breathe and room to grow. I drink in the sweet clean air, and I feel alive and rejuvenated. It’s no wonder I send my characters there. Yes, it’s my own longing I’m writing about when Tony stands on that same hillside, but I make no apology. This is my favourite room, and I'm so happy to be able to share it with you.