Interview with novelist Nanette Littlestone

Nanette Littlestone joins me today
to chat about her women’s fiction, Bella Toscana.

During her virtual book tour, Nanette will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes
and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be
entered for a chance to win, use the
form below.
To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit
her other tour stops
and enter there, too.

Littlestone never knew she wanted to be a writer until she was over forty. But
once she began, the ideas didn’t stop. Her fascination with relationships,
history, and the spiritual path has opened her writing to women’s fiction,
historical fiction, and inspirational nonfiction.
native Californian, Nanette lives in Atlanta, Georgia, far from the beach
(which she loves) but a place that’s warm with spectacular scenery. On the
professional side, she helps entrepreneurial women write and get published with
Words of Passion. On the fun side, she takes walks with her husband, cooks,
plays with graphic design, and makes origami butterflies. She loves to travel,
but she’s waiting for the teleportation machine to whisk her off to Greece or
Asia. In the meantime, she’s happy with dark chocolate and romantic movies that
make her cry.
Please share a little
bit about your current release.
Bella Toscana is a story about an
older woman’s journey of self-discovery and learning to trust what her heart
desires. She has just turned 50 and has a comfortable marriage with a
kind-hearted husband, but she longs for something more, something she can’t express.
As you travel with Toscana to Rome and Tuscany, you’ll encounter mouth-watering
descriptions of good food (spaghetti alla
carbonara, cacio e pepe, fettucine con carciofi, porchetta, fritto misto,
tortellini in brodo)
, chocolate (rich dark brownies with apricots,
Amaretto, and almonds or with cranberry, Triple Sec, and walnuts), and passion
(His mouth takes mine in a heady kiss,
rich with wine and the passion of our love
), beautiful Italian scenery,
past-life memories, and difficult choices. Be prepared for non-stop reading and
lots of pantry raiding.

What inspired you to write this book?

is the sequel to The Sacred Flame, a
historical novel about a Vestal Virgin in ancient Rome who falls in love with a
married man. When I was writing The
Sacred Flame
I was already aware of the sequel and how these lives in the
current time would take on some of the challenges of the past. The history of
Rome, the lives of the Vestals, the duties and sacrifices they made, colors,
mosaics, jewelry are all part of this story. Those influences prompt and
encourage Toscana to take her journey of self-discovery and look deep into her

Excerpt from Bella Toscana:
I loved him before I knew him.
Some people talk of synchronicity. The rhythm
of life. I know of rhythm, in the lyricism of words, in music, in the ebb and
flow of the ocean, in the monthly cycles of plants and trees. A beautiful
orchestration exists in the simplest of nature. But my world operates on logic,
practicality, reason. I do not believe in a grand plan. I do not believe in
And then he came.
Before him, I had a well-ordered life. Habit
and routine carried me through the day, warmth and comfort eased me through the
night. There were disappointments. Longings. Not all was perfect. But such is
life. If there was no great passion, so be it. Peace is preferable to something
wild that soars then fizzles and leaves you with an aching heart. I had a
different kind of love—security, respect, admiration, friendship.
I was fine. Just fine.
He showed me my lies in a slow creep of warmth
that grew and teased and eventually began to burn. The thought of him burrowed
deep inside me until I could think of nothing but him.
We were soul mates.
Soul mates. I scoffed at that. But we were
linked inextricably, inevitably by some deeper force, some older reckoning that
began many years ago.
To this day I don’t think he knew what would
happen. How do you know what fate has in store for you? They say man has free
will to act, to choose, to create whatever he desires. But what of other
people’s actions, choices, desires? What if those choices conflict with your
own? We tried to resist the seemingly magnetic pull. We did our best to act
rationally, to behave with honor and dignity. To be selfless. But love is not
Love is selfish. Love craves attention. Love
needs to be heard, to be felt. Love is a natural disaster.
You may think this is nothing new. We all know
stories of love. But this story is different. This story spans over two thousand
years. This story began in ancient Rome.
So I beg you, for as long as it takes to read
this story, to put aside your beliefs. Something took hold of me, pulled me
along. Was it fate? Destiny? Divine intervention?
Look to your own heart for the answers.

What exciting story are you working on

working on a YA fantasy with a teenage girl who tries to heal the heart of the
planet. The underlying theme is love and forgiveness and there are a lot of
areas that I’ve never delved into before—the human heart, the ocean, math and
logic, synesthesia, fractal geometry, Hebrew traditions—so I have a lot of
research to do and a lot of thinking and planning.

When did you first consider yourself a

written a little poetry in college and class papers but I had no desire to “be
a writer” until one afternoon when I was forty-one when Spirit whispered to me
and told me to start writing. I started with a story about a woman who won the
Publisher Clearing House Sweepstakes and when a dead body showed up and a
detective followed, I gave up because I knew nothing about murder or mysteries.
Some months later I began a fairy-tale romance and finished it nine months
later. My second novel wrote itself in a month. My third took a couple years.
When my husband and I moved from Portland, OR to Atlanta, GA I decided I wanted
to be a writer and I joined a critique group, My first reading was so traumatic
I vowed never to return, but I did and eventually took over the group. That’s when
I felt my writing career had begun.
Do you write full-time?
If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and
how do you find time to write?
wish I could write full-time. Not because I don’t have the time (and most of the
time I don’t), but mostly because I can’t seem to sit still that long. My
logical, perfectionist mind gets in the way. If I have an amazing idea I can
write for an hour, or two at the most, and then I’m done. I have to do
something else. I envy writers who can write for hours at a time.
rest of the time I vacillate between my business as a professional editor and
publisher, helping my husband administratively with his music light business (I
do the bookkeeping), and playing Editor in Chief for the Conscious Life Journal
(an Atlanta-based magazine). All that editing definitely slows down the writing
process. There is no such thing as a first draft. My first draft is like a
fourth or fifth draft because I’m never satisfied. Every time I read what I’ve
written I change something. I’ve also discovered recently that marketing takes
a LOT of time.

What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I’m taking a shower or taking a walk are the best times for ideas and scenes
and dialogue to come in, and of course I’m not ready and have this mad dash to
remember what I’m thinking and get to a place where I can write it down.

As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?

astronaut. I had an explorer spirit back then. I loved to travel and I loved
adventure and I could see myself among the stars. When Neil Armstrong stepped
on the moon I wanted to be right alongside him. I couldn’t imagine anything

Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?

sincerely hope you enjoy reading Bella
. And if you do read it, please drop me a line. Authors lead lives
of solitude, plying our craft and hoping that we’ve created a story that
entertains, that makes you think, that inspires you. Hearing from a reader is
the most amazing thing. So please reach out. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

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14 thoughts on “Interview with novelist Nanette Littlestone

  1. Nanette says:

    Good morning, Lisa. Thank you for hosting me and Bella Toscana. I'm so excited to be here and share the story with your readers.

  2. Nanette says:

    Hi Bernie,
    Great question. It took about 3 years of serious writing, plus a number of years before that thinking about the book and trying to figure out the story. Bella Toscana is the sequel to The Sacred Flame, so when I was writing The Sacred Flame I already knew there would be a story in modern times that would tie in to the story of ancient Rome. But I didn't know how that story would unfold. The unfolding is always what takes me the longest. Thanks!

  3. Nanette says:

    A question for the readers: There's a lot of food and chocolate in Bella Toscana. Do you enjoy reading about food? Name a favorite book that has amazing food descriptions. What was your favorite description?

  4. Nanette says:

    Thanks again for hosting me today, Lisa. It's been a pleasure sharing Bella Toscana and hearing from your followers. I so appreciate the opportunity. Best wishes for a great weekend!

  5. Nanette says:

    Bernie, character names often take a lot of thought and planning. Sometimes the names simply come to me. That happened with Toscana and Flynn. I think the name Jackson was the last name of a character in a book I was reading and I wanted to do something different so I decided to use it as a first name. Right after that decision I started finding characters with the first name of Jackson. So I wasn't as trendy as I thought. I also look at name meanings. Many times I'll search for a name that fits a character trait. I did that with the names of the characters in The Sacred Flame. Or I'll look at lists of first names or surnames and choose the one that resonates with me.

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