Vanessa Carnevale is an author and freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia, where she lives with her husband and two children. In her early twenties, Vanessa spent several years living in Florence, Italy, where she met her husband and discovered a love of travel and la dolce vita. She now considers Italy her second home and continues to travel back and forth when she can. We were lucky enough to catch up with Vanessa and pick her brains on all things love and travel.
Your debut novel The Florentine Bridge is a story of love, travel and second chances. What was the main inspiration behind the book?
I lived in Florence in my early twenties and had kept lots of notes about life over there, in the hope that they might come in handy for a book one day. I wanted to bring an authentic portrayal of Italian life to the page while creating the kind of emotional love story that might leave an imprint on the reader’s heart. By writing an artistic character by the name of Mia, a young Australian woman who’d been through a life-changing illness, I was able to explore deeper themes such as what it means to make a fresh start and truly appreciate life no matter what comes our way.
Loving the vibe here. Yes, let's jump on a plane and go to Tuscany. 🙌🏻 RepostBy @mel.terranova: "This book ❤ I think another trip to Florence is needed. Now to get ready for work *sigh . . . #bookstagram #booksofinstagram #booklover #booknerd #bibliophile #bookish #booksandtea #tea #tealover #read #books #nurse #nurselife #TheFlorentineBridge (via #InstaRepost)
What do you love most about travelling and where is your favourite place to visit?
I find travel exhilarating in that it opens up the mind, does wonders for creativity, and is one of the most perfect ways to create special memories. I love learning about different cultures, as well as the history behind the different places I visit. I love Europe, and have many countries and cities I’d like to visit but France and Italy are probably my favourites so far.
What do you miss about Italy?
So many things! The architecture and history. Being able to explore a new town on a whim. I miss the way life never seems to feel rushed and afternoon siestas are the norm. And of course, the food. The way life revolves around the table is such a lovely part of Italian life.
What are 3 things that travel has taught you?
Travel has shown me that the world is so much bigger and wonderful than we often imagine it to be. I’ve learnt about different cultures, and made new friends. Travel also has a way of reminding me that Australia is truly a special country to live in.
You are now based in Melbourne, Australia. What do you love about living there?
There are so many things to love about Melbourne and the state of Victoria in general, but in particular I love how it ticks all the boxes for a great lifestyle. We’re fortunate enough to enjoy everything from the beach to mountains to wineries. I just love the Mornington Peninsula, always enjoy a visit to the Yarra Valley, and will never tire of our beautiful Dandenong Ranges. We can’t forget that we also have a fabulous café and restaurant culture, too!
Favourite place to eat in Melbourne?
Avanti restaurant at Witchmount Estate in Plumpton is always a winner for me. Top notch service reminiscent of the kind you still get in Italy where there’s no need for a menu because the waiter tailors options for you and speaks with such passion about the specials of the day you can’t help but nod and agree to what’s being suggested. The surroundings are gorgeous too with a lovely vineyard and stream.
Favourite place to shop?
Assuming bookstores don’t count... I’d say kikki.K comes close second. I’m a stationery lover. I also have a bit of a thing for herbal teas so don’t mind pottering around T2 either. Thankfully, my local stores are opposite each other so I don’t visit one without popping into the other!
You mentor other writers and host writing workshops. What is your best piece of advice to writers who are just starting out?
This is such a rewarding part of my work. I like to remind writers that trust is one of the most important things they can carry with them. Writing requires a huge amount of trust because to write authentically and honestly, we make ourselves vulnerable. To create something out of nothing, we need to trust not only ourselves, but the characters, the plot, the voice. So, I like to tell writers that if they want to see a book to completion, they need to trust all of these things, which hopefully takes some of the pressure off and gives them permission to explore things on the page.
Who do you look up to?
Professionally, I admire writers who continue writing despite the rejections. A dear author friend of mine wrote ten manuscripts over twelve years before she was published and I admire her greatly for her resilience, tenacity, and for not giving up on her dream. I find people like this incredibly inspiring!
Time to pause and not rush. Sometimes life has a way of slowing us down and instead of fighting it, I'm just going to embrace it. Back to scribbling it is for the next several days, at least. I've been dealing with some terrible neck and shoulder muscle pain which is aggravated by screen time. So the plan for now is: more walks, more rest, more sitting with ideas and letting them happily percolate. In other words, just going with the flow.
What does an average day in your life look like?
I have set writing days where I work during school hours. In the morning, I make sure all my tasks around the house are done before I drop the kids off to school so that when I come home I literally just put the kettle on to make a tea or coffee and sit down at my desk. I also count time away from the computer as writing time because I feel it’s an essential part of the creative process. A walk in nature, or spending time at the park really helps me to spend time thinking about the characters in my stories. A lot of writing happens away from the computer and in these instances, I’ll make notes (I carry a notebook with me everywhere) and then come back to the computer and write the scenes I’ve dreamed up.
I recently handed in the draft of my second novel to my publisher and I’m playing around with ideas for a new manuscript. This involves a bit of scribbling and a lot of daydreaming. All part of the job!
Where can we find you?