Author of the Week: Santa Montefiore

This week’s Author of the Week is the bestselling author, Santa Montefiore. Santa has not one, but two books currently in the bestsellers list in the Sunday Times, The Secret Hours in paperback and the newly released Here And Now. Today we chat about Here And Now, a beautifully moving, uplifting book about a family & the entire community’s experience when their backbone, Marigold is diagnosed with dementia. Santa shares her experience researching dementia & the touching stories she found of real people who look at the brighter side of the illness. Plus we talk ‘stone soup’, the power of community spirit & writing about moles & paparazzi rats. This is a perfect easy listening chat with a brilliant writer who’s at the top of her game.

What’s in this chat:

  • The Secret Hours now in paperback bestsellers & Here And Now both in the Sunday Times Bestseller list
  • Santa on the love story of protagonists Marigold and Dennis & their long goodbye.
  • “I love writing about old people” says Santa on “it’s rare, it’s beautiful & tender” 
  • Writing a book on dementia – changing the dialogue on dementia. “Where’s the love, where’s the support? Where’s the silver lining” It’s about enjoying the moment with the people they love. Just being. 
  • Researching “Somebody I used to know” – Wendy Mitchell , her journey with alzheimer’s and in Wendy’s own words: “I’m not suffering with dementia. I’m living with dementia”. It’s not all awful & negative.
  • Living life backwards – people with dementia & their unique experiences with memory loss. 
  • “I love writing about cantankerous old people” says Montefiore on her character of Nan.
  • “I always have to have an underlayer of comedy” says Montefiore on adding both tears and laughter in her books. 
  • An invasion of moles in the garden: Santa on adding artistic license & comedy in her books.
  • Santa on her interest in writing the characters of three generations of women within her books. “I do that quite deliberately” says Santa as she appeals to her very broad audience of 90 year olds, 50 year olds and 19 year olds. 
  • Santa on mixing it up and writing a contemporary book in her own country. 
  • Santa on the inspiration behind the book: “Stone Soup” the story of three monks that visit a war ravaged town who teach the townspeople to create stone soup. It forms into a coming together of the people within the town & a festival of friendship. The outcome is less about the stone soup, but more about the community. Santa hopes that like the ‘Stone Soup’ tale, the ‘Here And Now’ narrative silences the village people’s petty feuds & instead uplifts & brings together the community in a meaningful way. 
  • Santa on the importance of love, friendship, compassion & understanding the fragility of life.
  • Imogen on the feeling that it “takes a village to raise a child” but also, “it takes a village to raise a woman”.
  • Santa on her experience writing a book a year.
  • Santa on her range of children’s books with her husband, “The Royal Rabbits of London” & the difficulties of writing a child’s book with sensitivities & limits to what is able to be shared with children. 
  • Media paparazzi rats & a torture chamber gym: Santa & her husband, Simon Sebag Montefiore’s quirky, creative take on children books.
  • Santa on her writing process. “I don’t get writer’s block, but I do find it very hard to say no to things & stick to my desk. That’s my challenge.”
  • Santa on the pleasure of writing comedy.
Buy Here And Now from your local Bookseller:

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