Another Sunset: An Epic of War and Love (Author Interview)

What inspired you to write Another Sunset: An Epic of War and Love?

This is actually a good one. On a random evening of April 2023, I was at the Bar du Champagne in Amsterdam, the city where I live. I was with three girls that I know, and one of them had recently written and published her first book. Nonchalantly, after a couple of glasses of champagne wine I asked her how many copies she had sold. She said 10k, and that blew me away. She’s brilliant, but I didn’t know it was possible to sell so many copies. Then she told me she self-published it, and that’s when I had my first aha moment. After more glasses of champagne and having accompanied her safely home, I started thinking about her achievement. And then my second aha moment: if she has done that, I can do that as well. The day after I made my decision. I was going to become a writer.

How did your family history influence the characters and story in Another Sunset?

Other great question. The characters of Giulio and Alice are partially inspired by my grandfather and my grandmother from my mother’s side, who also met in Siena, fell in love, were separated by the war, and eventually ended up like Giulio and Alice. Not spoiling the ending of the book here, but my grandparents really experienced something slightly similar to what I describe in my book. Their story is just one of the many stories about World War II that still needed to be told.

Can you share your experience in blending fictional characters with real historical figures in the book?

The core of Another Sunset, is that the stories starred by my fictional characters haven’t happened, but could have happened, because they’re all realistic. And I’m sure that similar people who really existed have interacted with historical figures like the reader will see in my book. For example, the bromance between Filippo and the German ace Marseille (who really existed) is just a story of boys’ friendship like we’re all familiar with. Funny fact – the crazy weekend of Filippo and Marseille with parties and girls is fictional, but the way less likely bravado of Marseille in Rome is actually a real and documented fact! I also wanted to show the human side of historical characters. For examples, the German General Rommel at some point will show his feelings, and face his fate as a man who’s willing to love and to protect his family until the bitter end.

What challenges did you face while writing about a sensitive period like World War II?

World War II is one of my favorite topics, and I love talking and writing about it. But the book is for my readers and it’s meant to be interesting, compelling and entertaining, so I had to carefully balance historical remarks, technical details, references and roles of historical characters to make it credible and enjoyable. To your question about sensitivity, I’ve focused on humans, and the ways they react to the war, depicted as a monstrosity overarching their lives. The novel doesn’t take sides too strongly. There is surely a good side (the Allies) and a bad side (the Axis), but most of the characters from the bad side turn out to be good people. And the encounter between Giulio and Carter Stones is symbolic of the reconciliation between countries that fought as enemies, but after the end of the war are willing to start working together.  

Alice and Giulio's love affair is a central part of your story. What do you think makes their relationship unique?

Their relationship has everything: love, sex, drama, unfaithfulness, promises, and much more. But what makes it really special is an invisible thread that connects them, something they’re not aware of, but that starts from the first encounter and continues throughout all the developments. Something that subtly and stealthily leads their actions and decisions until the ending. In a way, their love is the strongest entity of the whole book. Stronger than the war, stronger than all the other people that either want her or want to divide them, stronger than all the advertises they have to face. This is the love story every romantic dreams of. And Alice is probably the most intense character of the whole novel.

Stefano, the tank commander, has a desperate struggle. How did you approach writing his character and experiences?

Stefano is inspired by several movies and books, but he’s probably most similar to Wardaddy in Fury, played by Brad Pitt. He’s driven by ambition but he’s the archetypal gallant soldier, who wants to win the war but won’t commit atrocities of any kind. He’s the only one to fight all the wars depicted in the book, Libya, Ethiopia, Spain and North Africa, but in spite of the endless difficulties caused by poor equipment and questionable leadership, he always keeps his cool and leads his men with honor and dignity until the end. He may not be the most fun character of the book, but he’s certainly the most reliable and trustworthy.

Filippo, the fighter pilot, shows unwavering ambition. What message were you hoping to convey through his journey?

Filippo is the younger brother, the one that nobody takes seriously, and whose decisions are challenged by all his family. It takes a while for him to fully mature, but when he gets there, then he becomes a key player in the decisive developments of the story. His journey is a story of persistence and constant growth, which is ultimately awarded by recognition of his people. And he’s a very good guy, respected and admired by his commanders, loved by women and chosen by the star of the German Air Force as his bestie. And for Alice, surely the ideal brother-in-law…

Lorenzo and Flavia undertake a life-saving mission. What was your inspiration behind this subplot?

Lorenzo and Flavia are representative of those millions of normal people whose jobs save human lives all the time. They’re not superheroes, but just a nurse and a firefighter who see tears and blood every day. In a way, people like Stefano and Filippo are the reason why there are people like Lorenzo and Flavia. Moreover, they’re a loving couple, enjoying a perfect relationship that serves as stark contrast between the hardship they have to endure out of their home. They’re united from the very first to the last moment they are described. They represent an example of something of love and unity that anyone should yearn for.

Bruno's personal battle against Fascism is a significant part of the story. What do you hope readers take away from his arc?

First of all, I hope they’ll be inspired by his courage and his firm beliefs. When he’s in the first eleven of the Italian Soccer National Team and about to play the World Cup, he finds himself in a dilemma: betray his principles but live a successful life as a muppet of Mussolini, or challenge Fascism and undergo a long series of struggles, without any certainty that he will finally prevail. He makes a hard decision and embarks in a perilous journey, conscious that he has made the right choice. He’s partially inspired by someone who really existed, who was a soccer player but antifascist, and eventually joined the partisans.

Ciro's journey is quite intense, from mafia conflicts to sacrifice in El Alamein. What was your process in crafting such a complex character?

Ciro is another archetype, a good person who’s born in the wrong place and in the wrong period of time, and no matter what decisions he makes, he’ll have to face more and more adversities. In spite of that, he’s appreciated and respected by every single character he interacts with (apart from the local mobster of course), and he fully incarnates all the features of the strong man of the South of Italy. Contrarily to all the other characters, his life is a constant struggle from the beginning to the end. But he’s not alone in that. His Maria is always next to him, and that’s what gives him the strength to move forward.



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