Thursday, 24 September 2015

60 Seconds with Siobhan Daiko

Siobhan Daiko was born and spent her childhood in colonial Hong Kong. She has worked in the City of London, once ran a post office/B&B in Herefordshire, and, more recently, taught Modern Foreign Languages in a Welsh comprehensive school. Siobhan now lives with her husband and two cats in the Veneto region of Northern Italy, where she spends her time writing, researching historical characters, and enjoying the dolce vita. Her books to date are Lady of Asolo, The Orchid Tree, and Veronica Courtesan. Her new release, The Submission of Theodora, comes out on 27th October, 2015.

Tell us a little about you and your writing.
I’m really honoured you’ve asked me. Writing wasn’t something that I’ve always done, unlike most other writers I know. Yet I’ve always been creative. My father was an artist and encouraged me to paint when I was a child. I loved it, but I was also a linguist, and that’s the direction my life initially took. My passion for writing only started when the empty-nest syndrome kicked in. My son had left for university and an old friend had become a published author. Naively, I thought I could become one too. So I wrote a novel about a school-teacher in Wales (I was a school-teacher in Wales at the time). I thought it would be the next Bridget Jones. Ha! I did complete it, but my heart wasn’t in the story and I hadn’t found my voice. Instead, there other stories in my head, clamouring to be told, and I’ve hit my stride writing them, I hope.

 What’s the best thing about being a writer?
I love the journey of completing a novel, discovering where the characters will take me. The end is always set in stone, but getting there is absolute magic.

 And the worst?
Marketing. It’s the downside of ‘being a writer’ when I’d much rather just write. That said, I’m learning more about promotion with each book I publish and now I have the help of a wonderful lady, Tracy Smith Comerford.

Why historical fiction?
The idea for The Orchid Tree, my debut novel, came to me while I was researching my grandparents’ experiences in the notorious Stanley Civilian Internment Camp in Hong Kong during World War II, and the first part of the novel is set there. To lighten the darkness of the subject matter, I focused on two very different fictional romances. History was one of my favourite subjects at school, and I’ve always been fascinated by it. Whenever I visit a historic location, I lose myself in daydreaming about what it would have been like to have lived there in the past. Lady of Asolo, a time-slip historical romance set in the area where I now live in northern Italy, is inspired by a location steeped in history. And I love reading historical fiction, of course.

If you could see your latest novel turned into a Hollywood film, who would you like to see play the lead roles?
Funnily enough, there has already been a Hollywood film, Dangerous Beauty, made about the main character in my latest book, Veronica COURTESAN. The role of Veronica was played by Catherine McCormack and Rufus Sewell interpreted the part of her lover, Marco. I thought the sets in the movie were beautiful, but I would change the leading actors to Scarlett Johansson, for her beauty and intelligence, and Aiden Turner for … (need I go on?). It would have to be x rated, though, as Veronica is my first foray into erotica.

Do you have a special writing place?

Yes, I do. I write in what was my father’s studio. I like to think he would approve of me carrying on the creative tradition here. Sadly, he died before he could fulfil his dream of painting in this place during his retirement. It’s a beautiful spot, set on a hillside in the foothills of the Dolomites. I love it.

You live in Italy now which must influence your writing. Is location important in your books?

Italy definitely influenced Lady of Asolo and Veronica. Location is a vital part of my writing process. My next erotic romance will be released on 27th October 2015: The Submission of Theodora, set in 6th Century Constantinople. I researched the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the setting before I started writing the story.
Which 3 writers do you most admire and why?
That is such a difficult question! There are hundreds. So I’m going to choose writers of the past who still resonate with me today. In first place: Shakespeare. Quite simply the best for his characters and use of language. Second place: Jane Austen for her biting irony and not just because her novels have been brought to life on TV and the big screen. Third place: Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It was through him that I discovered magical realism and I really wish I had the nerve to use it in my own writing. He’s the master, though, and I would be a poor imitator.

If you could choose a different genre to write in for just one book – what would it be?
I would love to write a thriller. Mainly because I enjoy reading them. One day, maybe…

Classics are the theme of this issue – which is your favourite Classic and why?
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375), which I studied when I was learning Italian. He focuses on the naturalness of sex, which is what I’ve always believed is an essential part of our humanity, and I try to focus on that too in my erotic romances.


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