Posted on April 1, 2017 in Blog

On 19th March 2017, my husband Mac and I, flew out to Bari airport in Southern Italy and headed to the wonderful medieval town of Turi. I was invited by my Italian publisher, Il Castoro to take part in the Didiario Children’s Book Festival.

The festival is organised by Alina Didiario Laruccia and it takes many books to students in areas where there are no bookshops. My first Young Adult novel, SMART, has been translated into Italian by Il Castoro and it has also been shortlisted for the prestigious Italian Children’s Award, the Premio Strega Regazze e Ragazzi 2017, so I was delighted to find it is a popular read in Italian schools.

We were met by our wonderful host, Alina, who looked after us so very well. We were also lucky enough to meet Italian authors Antonio Ferrara and Luigi Ballerini  and during our trip, we were very grateful to Luigi, whose translation skills proved to be invaluable!

On Monday 20th March, I spoke at Turi High School and met a new friend, English teacher Loredana Eyes Salvatore. I spoke to the students about my writing journey and about how SMART came to be written. Lots of them had read SMART and had bought the book themselves so lots of book signing to do!

Book signing at Turi High School


After a talk and signing with her students at Turi High School, Loredana treated me to a traditional coffee shop for a mid-morning cappuccino and cake!

With my new friends (L) Alina and Loredana (R)

The next day, 21st March, it was two more school visits in Putignano. The students were very enthusiastic and had lots of questions – thanks to my two excellent student translators, the language barrier was no problem! Afterwards, a wonderful lunch back in Turi at a most beautiful 17th Century restaurant.

With the wonderful (L-R) author Luigi Ballerini, the proud restaurant owner and Alina

And later, a talk with children at a most wonderful bookshop, Libreria Le Storie Nuove in beautiful Conversano. Afterwards, we were treated to supper with lovely owner Serena and her friend Paolo . . . and we learned lots about the food and history of the local area!

With SMART fans at Libreria ‘Le Storie Nuove’

A very SMART window display!


I felt so welcome in Puglia and made such good friends including Alina, Loredana, Luigi, Nino and lovely Maria. The students of the region are so lucky to have Alina’s Didiario festival and the support of my Italian publisher, Il Castoro. I would like to thank everyone I met for their hospitality and welcome, what a wonderful experience it was. Massive thanks also to Paula Malgrati at Il Castoro and to Mary Darby, Head of Rights at Darley Anderson Children’s Agency, who organised the trip.

For the remaining three days of our trip Mac and I had free time to explore beautiful Puglia . . . one day we will go back there! ♥

Polignano a Mare

Polignano a Mare

Ostuni, ‘The White City’

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