escaping to tea with Nicky Pellegrino


Long-time ARTbop stalwart Diane Hume-Green took tea with Nicky Pellegrino who conversed with escape! Director Claire Mabey (Claire is the Associate Director of the larger Tauranga Arts Festival). Here’s Diane’s word-picture

Author Nicky Pellegrino was interviewed by Claire Mabey at a morning tea at Baycourt as part of the escape Festival held during Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Spongedrop Cakery provided an Italian themed morning tea as an accompaniment to Claire talking to Nicky about her latest novel, Under Italian Skies and also some of her previous novels As a journalist Nicky makes a living from writing, but embarking on novel writing was a new experience all those years ago and she never though she would write more than one novel, let alone nine.

Nicky grew up in England, daughter of an Italian father and English mother, with holidays spent with relatives in Italy. This experience made for many memories to use as inspiration for her books. Nicky recounted her holidays in Italy were not at a glamorous resort but sharing a room with other family members and being part of everyday life in Italy.

The women in her novels are based loosely on women she knows or knew and the Italian settings are from new and old visits to Italy. From her childhood memories she used a real house as the Villa Rosa in one novel and a visit in recent years to a cookery course as a basis for her novel set in a cooking school. Claire asked which place she loved the most in Italy. Nicky replied that would be Rome which is an amazing city but a visit to Venice should be on everyone’s to do list. She intends returning to Venice and a top travel tip is to get up early and beat the tourists and just walk around looking at the architecture. Time spent in Sicily was very interesting and as food plays such a large part in her novels, she enjoys watching the preparation of and tasting delicious Italian food.

Claire asked about some characters who have been in more than one novel. Nicky said she often has a restaurant or another place pop up as well as characters who come in and out of some novels, sometimes unexpectedly. Nicky has a great sense of humour and tales of her husband and father and life in Italy had the audience in stitches.

Questions from the floor included asking how she works timewise, if she is going to write a cookery book and who inspired her glamorous older woman character.

Books a Plenty had a table laden with Nicky’s novels and she signed them at the end of the talk. An hour went by very quickly and it would have been nice to have had another coffee and chat about books in general with the other audience members up in the Baycourt Foyer. The foyer had been transformed amazingly by The Incubator and really set the scene for whisking us away to sunny Italy on a winter’s day in Tauranga.

Some of the fabulous festivals you can see in Tauranga”

The New Zealand Garden & Art Festival:

Tauranga Arts Festival:

escape: the little festival with big ideas!

Tauranga Jazz Festival:

JanPreston'sBoogieWoogieCircusTgaMarch2015 003Diane Hume-Green: Writer Diane Hume-Green is regular contributor to ARTbop through her column Scene about Town, She is also a lead interviewer/conversationalist on The ARTbopSHOW. Diane is a member of Tauranga Writers and the local TedX organising group. She is the eldest daughter of an established Tauranga music, business and creative family. Diane recounts family stories of her attendance at Tauranga Jazz Club events in her carrycot. With her background in fabric, fashion, interior and architectural design, her continuing participation in a broad spectrum of arts and creativity and her attendance at a wide range of performance, social and community activities, Diane’s contributions are an interesting and readable insight into current Tauranga.


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