Friday, February 26, 2021

Ilaria Bernardini Interview - The Portrait: A Novel

Photo Content from Ilaria Bernardini

Ilaria Bernardini is a prolific talent in Italy, where she has published eight novels, including Faremo Foresta (“We Will Grow a Forest”) which was longlisted for Italy’s presitigious Strega Prize. The Portrait too has been longlisted for the Strega Prize: it was nominated by Academy Award winning director Paolo Sorrentino ( “The great beauty”) She is a Vogue Italia columnist and regular contributor for Rolling Stone . Ilaria also co-wrote the late renowned director Bernardo Bertolucci's last film, The Echo Chamber. She splits her time between London and Milan.


Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Milan, Italy. I now live between Milan, London and Spain, but I call home wherever my son, my husband and my computer are.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My last novel, We will grow a forest, is a very painful yet I think very uplifting, intimate and personal story that somehow managed to become universal for other people, and many women related to it. Touring with that novel was incredibly moving, there were many hugs, tears- we could still hug, remember that thing?- and many women would tell me ‘ this is my story’.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
Feeling lonely, different. And an overwhelming amount of thoughts that was clogging my brain.

Tell us your latest news.
My last three novels are being turned in tv series or movies! Also, I’ve bought a khaki tree and 4 chickens.

Can you tell us when you started THE PORTRAIT, how that came about?
I was sleeping at friends house, in the south of Italy. She is an actress and something about how she was telling me about her life- it was funny, yet painful- started the whole idea. The very slow train that brought me back to the North of Italy the following morning, made it possible for me to focus, dig into that intuition, and stay with the story. By the time I was in Milan I knew I had to begin writing immediately.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
That they stay with the deeper, more philosophical thoughts that the entertaining, fast paced and thrilling plot, forces you to face.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating characters?
That they do come with a voice, a story, and you just have to listen and download what they are already saying.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Anything really. Distraction per se. The phone, coffee, more coffee, water, the phone again, a bird outside.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Study philosophy.

Best date you've ever had?
At a fish&chips near the sea. A bonfire. Many cold beers. Lots of laughing.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
To breastfeeding my son when he was around six or seven months. I would like to see his eyes, the way they were when he was looking at me.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
I really don’t know. One of the dumbest ones was smoking crack whilst alone in Mexico thinking it was weed with some ( very handsome) stranger. Also, I used to sleep under the stars, in a hammock during those weeks.

First Heartbreak?
I had crushes on quite a few of my teachers so they all were impossible loves. And my heart was constantly broken.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
Traveling through South America for many months, with no phone.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
First one. I can then write about it!

Where can readers find you?
I am kind of a hermit and I spend most of my time near a forest. They can find me when I go collect my mail at the po box!

  • I am a philosopher.
  • I used to be a theater actress.
  • I am a mother.
  • I have 3 sisters and a brother.
  • I don’t use lifts.
  • I walk at least 10 km a day.
  • I am scared of flying. But I fly.
  • I often hide alone in cinema’s and sometimes watch 2 or 3 movies in a row.
  • I drink way too much coffe.
  • I am very often counting, but I’m not sure what I’m counting.
Writing Behind the Scenes
I write every day, whatever happens, on my computer and never by hand. In the mornings I write my novels whilst afternoons are for the movies, columns, or any writing that implies working with other people. I never wait for inspiration and never ask myself about my process: I’m too scared it might interfere with something that is very natural for me.

“Electric. A wildly astute plunge into the depths of love, rivalry, betrayal and the power of women.” —Bill Clegg

An internationally renowned writer, Valeria Costas has dedicated her life to her work and to her secret lover, Martìn Acla, a prominent businessman. When his sudden stroke makes headlines, her world implodes; the idea of losing him is terrifying. Desperate to find a way to be present during her lover's final days, Valeria commissions his artist wife, Isla, to paint her portrait—insinuating herself into Martìn's family home and life.

In the grand, chaotic London mansion where the man they share—husband, father, lover—lies in a coma, Valeria and Isla remain poised on the brink, transfixed by one another. Day after day, the two women talk to each other during the sittings, revealing truths, fragilities and strengths. But does Isla know of the writer's long involvement with Martìn? Does Valeria grasp the secrets that Isla harbors? Amidst their own private turmoil, the stories of their lives are exchanged, and as the portrait takes shape, we watch these complex and extraordinary women struggle while the love of their lives departs, in an unforgettable, breathless tale of deception and mystery that captivates until the very end.

You can purchase The Portrait: A Novel at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ILARIA BERNARDINI for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Portrait: A Novel by Ilaria Bernardini.