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