Congratulations Kas! She’s the winner of To Italy with Love by Fiona Zedde.
Author Fiona Zedde returned to Women and Words to tell us about her new release, To Italy with Love.
And, because she’s awesome, she’s also giving away a copy. Signed paperback or ebook in the US. Ebook only outside of the US. Drop a comment in the space below to enter. I’ll draw the winner this Friday, January 22.
Getting to know the world, getting to know myself
by Fiona Zedde
The first time I left the United States was during my sophomore year in college. I traveled from my small, liberal arts Florida school to London for a semester abroad. When I first thought about taking the semester away, I only had the curiosity to see another country apart from the one that had adopted me. I had no real agenda, not at age eighteen. Only once settled in a central London dorm room and talking with strangers from all over the US, my fingers greasy from the best fish and chips I’d ever tasted in my life, did the real possibilities of being away from the familiar finally occur to me.
Although I’d always known I was queer, only among these strangers who would grow to be my friends and fellow adventurers, did I allow myself to be openly gay. Being away from home, much like being in college, gave me the chance to be the girl I could be when not weighed down by the expectations of people I’d known all my life. From English gay bars to fog-shrouded French parks, picturesque Italian bridges and cobbled, damp Swedish streets, I found myself with wings and freedom enough to explore all the possibilities of my eighteen-year-old self. For the first time, my default wasn’t the shy bookworm or the nervous girl afraid of new things. I tried everything. I danced. I ate. I drank. I got to know myself. During those months, those new and foreign spaces carved themselves inside me just as I carved out an identity for myself through them.
I learned that I love flying, passport stamps, and adapting to an unfamiliar language, that I adore kissing and fireworks, and always find a stronger sense of myself when I am utterly out of my depth and among unfamiliar people. And my tongue. I learned to love it even more, using it to taste and to kiss and to attempt different languages. That semester abroad was a revelation that changed my entire life.
It is a similar revelation and moment that my characters in To Italy with Love, a collection of three stories, also get to experience. The ability of isolation from the familiar to set you free. The transformative nature of love. The power of kisses to illuminate new paths and darken others. In To Italy with Love, the world shifts around my characters and they must decide if they will move with this changing world or hold fast to their initial sense of who they are. One woman learns about the country where she was born (and immigrated from as a child) through others’ stories, and only when she visits her birth country for the first time since leaving, does she stumble into a new career, a new way of looking at her sexuality, and ultimately a new love. Her journey to transformation, and to a new life, began with a single flight.
In the book, as in real life, travel can be a wonderful catalyst for change. It can give us wide and magnificent wings, new lenses, and the ability to discover ourselves in unexpected places. Passport required, of course.
Jamaican-born Fiona Zedde is the author of several novels, including the Lambda Literary Award finalists Bliss and Every Dark Desire. Her novel, Dangerous Pleasures, received a Publishers Weekly starred review and was winner of the About.com Readers’ Choice Award for Best Lesbian Novel or Memoir of 2012. Her latest work, To Italy with Love, is available now.
Under the name Lindsay Evans, Fiona also writes novels of romance and recklessness for Harlequin. Her novel, Affair of Pleasure, is now available. Find out more at FionaZedde.com and LindsayEvansWrites.com.