Ella Hayes: Italian Summer with the Single Dad

Ella Hayes: Italian Summer with the Single Dad

Mills & Boon True Love author Ella Hayes reflects on her time as a Mills & Boon author so far, and her new release, Italian Summer with the Single Dad

As the release day for my second True Love romance, Italian Summer with the Single Dad approaches, I’m taking a moment to reflect on how I’ve arrived at this place, how I find myself standing on such hallowed ground …

Like the heroine of Italian Summer, I am a professional photographer, but unlike my heroine, I’ve always had a burning desire to write. It was an itch I needed to scratch!

Ella Hayes

A few years ago I bit the bullet. I made time to write, just for fun, fitting writing projects around my work schedule as so many writers do. I began to see that even with photography, the engine driving my passion had always been the narrative—fitting visuals together to make stories—so swapping the camera for the keyboard wasn’t such a radical change of direction. It was simply a change of tool.

Winning the Prima/Mills & Boon Love to Write competition in 2017 catapulted me into a whole new world, a world that I am still getting to grips with. I never thought my Scottish story, Her Brooding Scottish Heir would appeal to the competition judges because the Mills & Boon romances I’d read in the eighties always seemed to be set in exotic locations. But there’s security in writing the familiar (I’ve lived in Scotland for thirty-five years) and I love writing about Scotland and its people, so I took the risk and submitted my first chapter about a heartbroken artist and a grieving laird’s son. When I got “the call” from Bryony Green … Wow! That’s one of those moments you remember all your life!

Working with my Mills & Boon editor, Nic Caws, was a great experience. I learned so much along the way and will always be grateful for her creative input and her endless patience!

When it came to Italian Summer with the Single Dad, yet again I found myself reaching for what I know—wedding photography—and more particularly my experience of shooting a beautiful wedding in Italy. I’m not shooting weddings anymore, but my heroine Olivia is at the very beginning of her career. She’s looking for her big break, the chance to work at the “high-end” which is what every wedding photographer dreams of. High-end weddings tend to be beautiful, giving the photographer the chance to create the kind of portfolio which attracts other high-end couples. So, when prestige venue owner and single dad, Zach Merrill asks Olivia to step into his (injured) photographer’s shoes for the summer, it’s too good an opportunity to turn down. Six weeks in Ravello shooting portfolio weddings is the chance of a lifetime, but will Olivia’s Italian Summer with the Single Dad turn into something more than a business arrangement?

When I’m writing, I have to have a strong sense of the setting. Ravello is an ancient town. Atmospheric! It attracts a large number of tourists, but in spite of that, there are quiet corners to be found, hushed streets

with grand doors, muted tones and peeling paint, ivy scrambling up walls. Walking through those streets, I knew that Ravello would be the perfect setting for a romance. I always have my camera with me when I travel (even though it’s heavy and annoying in many ways) and so many of the places and little details I photographed on that trip have made it into this story … I love it when I can do that. It makes the story feel very real to me as I’m writing it, and hopefully the reader will feel it too.