Summer is here! Take time out to play by Abby Clements
2015/06/29  |  By:   |  Features  |  

The sun’s out, fragrant jasmine is blooming in the streets of our neighbourhood and the city is emerging from its slow-starting Spring slumber. In London in June it’s out with that traditional British reserve and in with Pimms, picnics, outdoor cinema, lunchtime ice cream and splashing with jeans rolled up in paddling pools.

Summer days like these are precious and they were the inspiration behind my new novel, The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop, which comes out in July. It’s always exciting when copies of a book are printed and I’m so happy with how this one has turned out. This book tells the story of how one summer changes the lives of sisters Anna and Imogen, and how they help each other to achieve their dreams.  There’s romance, friendship and – as you’d expect – plenty of indulgent gelato and sorbets.

Writing is my job (I thank my lucky stars for that) and it takes commitment – but fun is an essential part of the process, too. I couldn’t have written this book without summertime memories – of travel, of friendship, of play. So, next time you’re enjoying yourself, remember it could be the start of your own creative adventure.

Glimmers of this story first came to me twelve years ago, in the university holidays, when I was on the Amalfi coast, eating lemon sorbet in Sorrento, exploring picturesque Italian coastal towns, looking out at the sparkling sea from the dizzy heights of Ravello and Positano. I remember an unforgettable trip out to Capri, which was vibrant with bourgainvillea and glamorous people. I was sure I’d found heaven.

It almost didn’t matter that  I was there, in one of the most romantic places in the world, with my mum! As it happens, she is great fun and we had a brilliant time, and I knew that somehow, one day, the time would come where I could bring romance and the setting together. Writing is magic like that, it makes anything possible. I kept a journal, as I do on all trips, near or far, and took photos. Over a decade later, and my world a little smaller now I have a young child, I was able to draw on those memories again.

Other holidays and moments have fed into the story too – a wedding in a stunning Italian hilltop village, the bride and groom leaving in a white cinquecento car, beeping the horn, all the delighted villagers and wedding guest following behind it. Every ice cream I’ve ever tasted, from Camden to Florence, was used as inspiration too! As for romance and love – everything that happens in real life, the beautiful and good, the bad, the downright ugly, all helps me to understand how my characters’ love lives might play out.

When it comes to writing, I really believe there’s no such thing as wasted time, so long as you’re experiencing something new. If you’re interested in writing yourself, my tip is to put aside an hour a week, more if you have it, just to play, live and let your imagination run free – ideally on your own. It might take planning but it will be worth it. Swing in an empty playground, draw a picture with the wrong hand, take three photos of things that inspire you. Oh, and have some ice cream while you’re at it!

One day, you may find it all comes in useful.

Looking for more inspiration? Try some of these ideas too.

Have a wonderful summer.

Love, Abby xx