Meet the au­thor

Keep Me Safe is the at­mo­spheric and mys­te­ri­ous new novel by Daniela Sac­er­doti (Hachette, $35)

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Tell me about Keep Me Safe.

It’s the story of a lost girl who shows a mother and her daugh­ter their way home.

What in­spired you to write this book?

It’s hard to say, be­cause the story of this book came to me pretty much ready­made, on a sum­mer’s day. I was so taken by it that I wanted to send it to my agent straight away, but I was on hol­i­day in my home vil­lage in Italy and the only com­puter I could think of at that mo­ment was the one be­long­ing to the lo­cal re­tire­ment home. So I went there and asked if I could use it, and an el­derly guest very kindly showed me how to send an email. It was funny, and very sweet.

You have writ­ten all your life but only worked up the con­fi­dence to sub­mit to a pub­lisher in 2010. What was the cat­a­lyst for fi­nally tak­ing that step?

My fa­ther’s death. He was a very tal­ented man but very in­se­cure, so I set out to ful­fil not just my dreams and am­bi­tions, but his too.

You were born and grew up in Italy, then lived in Scot­land for 14 years be­fore mov­ing back to Italy with your Scot­tish hus­band two years ago. How dif­fer­ent are the two places?

The main dif­fer­ence is the weather. It seems ob­vi­ous, but it changes the whole cul­ture. In Italy you spend a lot more time out­side. A lot hap­pens out­side, such as fes­ti­vals and cel­e­bra­tions. Ac­tu­ally Scots and Pied­mon­tese peo­ple (Pied­mont is the re­gion in the North­West of Italy where I come from) have a lot in com­mon: they’re re­served, proud and stub­born!

How has your de­gree in clas­sics helped your writ­ing?

It has helped im­mensely. Ev­ery­thing I read and stud­ied in the first 37 years of my life, and then after I be­gan writ­ing pro­fes­sion­ally, feeds into my sto­ries. My books are all very sim­ple, but they have hid­den lay­ers that re­flect my back­ground.

What was the last book you read that made you laugh?

I’m read­ing a non-fic­tion book about how some an­cient texts re­veal that hu­man­ity was ac­tu­ally cre­ated by aliens, in a huge ge­netic ex­per­i­ment. Com­plete non­sense but a lot of fun. For me, any­way… I must have weird taste!

What’s the last truly great book you read?

I’ve been dip­ping in and out of a col­lec­tion of Sor­ley MacLean’s po­ems. Sor­ley MacLean is a Scot­tish poet whose work has been a huge in­spi­ra­tion for me. My first pub­lished novel Watch Over Me was ‘sparked’ by his poem Hal­laig, put to mu­sic by Mar­tyn Ben­nett. This col­lec­tion was a present from us to one of our sons when he was born, as we called him Sor­ley.

Is there one book you’ve read that you felt changed your life?

Dif­fer­ent ones at dif­fer­ent times. The book I read over and over again as I grew up, and I still re-read, is Anne of Green Gables. The Lord of the Rings made me dream of other worlds. Maeve Binchy, Sheila O’Flana­gan and Philippa Gre­gory made me want to tell sto­ries of women.

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