I first published The Healer’s Secret in 2017. Bloodhound Books offered me a contract for all three books in the series late last year, and now it’s going to be republished on the 7th September. I just love the new cover!
You can pre-order it here:
While you’re waiting to read it, here’s some background info about the writing of the book.
Three years ago, my husband, youngest son, and I went to Gallicano in Tuscany to do some research for The Healer’s Secret, which I had just finished writing. We had four days to explore the area and taste the local food, so we made the most of it!
We also found some hidden treasures which I then added to the story, such as the angel in the graveyard by St. Jacopo’s church. More about that later!
I took these photos during our journey to Gallicano – we live in a flat, industrial area near Milan, so it’s lovely to see mountains! (Apologies for the quality of the photos, they were taken with an old phone!)
Those steep, narrow streets Jennifer had to walk up to get to her aunt’s house really do exist, and make your legs ache if you’re not used to them!
Gallicano is a beautiful town, with hidden treasures around every corner and breathtaking views!
The church of San Jacopo is mentioned in The Healer’s Secret. We found it during a walk around Gallicano, at the top of a very steep hill, overlooking the town.
The overgrown graveyard was closed, so we couldn’t go in, but I saw a statue of an angel hiding among the grass and had to include it in the book. (It was also after the ‘Weeping Angels’ episode of Doctor Who, so it was pretty creepy!)
We didn’t go inside the church, but took lots of photos of it then went to a nearby bar for a coffee and a rest. Just like Mark and Jennifer in the book.
The trip I was looking most forward to during our long weekend in Gallicano was the guided tour around La Grotta del Vento (the Wind Cave).
These photos were taken on our way up to the caves, along a narrow road that wound around the mountain, with rocks overhanging the road occasionally! Just like Jennifer and Mark, we went up early to avoid the crowds, but unlike Jennifer, we didn’t get lost inside the caves!
When I was doing research for The Healer’s Secret, I came across La Grotta del Vento – The Wind Cave. With help from the website, I wrote the scene where Mark takes Jennifer there for a guided tour. But there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself, so when we spent some days in Gallicano, the caves were the first thing I wanted to see! It was as amazing as I’d hoped it would be, as you can see from the photos. And I even found some creepy steps leading down to who knows where, which I had to add to the scene! If you ever go to Gallicano, I highly recommend you visit the caves – but take a jumper, it was freezing inside, even at the height of summer!
After our guided tour around the caves, we stopped at a village on the way down to stretch our legs and take some photos. I found a stone-walled cottage that looked very similar to how I imagined Great-grandmother Luisa’s cottage to be.We walked around a curve in the road to take some more photos of the back of the cottage, and were amazed to see something in the back garden! If you look closely at the photo, you might be able to make it out.I’m not going to say what it is, but the spooky thing is, I’d already written the book, and the cottage has something similar in its back garden! If you’ve already read the book, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not – read the book!
While driving around, we found this beautiful spot near the river (which according to Google Maps is Torrente Turrite di Gallicano, but I’m not 100% sure!).We spent a pleasant few hours soaking up the peace and quiet, it was lovely. I didn’t want to leave! These photos give you some idea of how beautiful Tuscany is.
On our last day in Gallicano, we went to a town high up in the mountains (I can’t remember the name, sorry!). We walked all the way to the church at the very top, and were rewarded with an incredible view. We even found an old British telephone box, used as a free library! It was an amazing end to an amazing holiday, one that I will treasure forever.
When we got home I used many of those experiences in my book. I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip to Tuscany and this look into the writing of The Healer’s Secret!