It was when she discovered novels by authors Rosamunde Pilcher and Maeve Binchy in her teenage years that she realized it was time she put down in words the stories she had kept well hidden in her mind until then.
What started as a hobby, soon turned into a real passion and a way of life, until she could no longer keep the stories to herself, and decided to get over her fears and share them with the world.
Roberta lives in Italy, but her dream is to move out of her country and live either in a thatched cottage in the Irish countryside or in a country house with a swing on the back porch, somewhere in the United States, where she would love to spend her days writing novels as a full-time job, and maybe one day even get as far as writing a screenplay for a movie.
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR
Was it difficult writing a story about a heroine who is confined to a wheelchair? What challenges did that make to the writing?
It was a little tough to get inside Kathleen’s mind and think of all the challenges she would have to face. I tried putting myself in her shoes and imagine what it would be like to not be able to feel your legs, and to need everyone’s help for everything, especially since she’s so young when it happens. It was a very emotional part of the writing process, because sometimes I really felt for her, as if I were her and every now and then I had to step away from the story, take a deep breath and get a grip, before I could start writing again. I hated to drag the story along, because I wanted to make her walk again after the first few chapters, but then I reckoned it would be better to wait and make her accept her condition first.
The challenge I faced more often was when I had to think what she could and she couldn’t do, so when I wrote a scene I had to stop and ask myself: “Would a person in a wheelchair be able to do that?” and if the answer was “no”, I’d have to rewrite the scene and find another way.
Where does the story take place? Why did you choose that particular location?
The story is mainly set in three places in Ireland, with a few chapters set in New York. Kathleen and Colin meet in Dublin (the capital city), but she’s from Galway (West coast of Ireland) and he’s from county Sligo (North-West). I chose Ireland because it’s my favorite country. I lived there for a few months (in Dublin and in Sligo and I visited Galway three times so far) and I have to say it’s a country that stole my heart, with its beautiful landscapes and lovely people. Rosses Point (the coastal village in County Sligo where Colin’s grandmother lives and where he spent most of his life) is actually a place where I’d love to live, so I wanted to give it a sort of “cameo appearance” in the book.
Why New York? Because it’s a city I’ve always wanted to visit and I thought it would be nice to mix the settings.
Tell us about Colin, his past and why he wants to help Kathleen so much.
Colin is the man of my dreams. If he were real, I’d search the whole world to find him and marry him. Okay, now that I’ve gotten this out of my system, I can say that Colin was a lot of fun to write about. I’ve found it a challenge to write in a man’s point of view. The first draft of the book was in Kathleen’s point of view only, but then I wanted people to get to read Colin’s thoughts and emotions as well, so I decided to add his point of view, too.
Colin was a happy boy until his parents died in a plane crash when he was sixteen and his whole world crumbled. He had to leave his hometown (New York) and move to Ireland with his grandmother on his father’s side. He never really forgave himself for being alive, since he should’ve been on that plane with his parents but he’d lied to them to spend time alone with his girlfriend. After the terrible tragedy, he locked his heart and all his emotions behind a bolted door and never let anyone get close. Whenever a girl got too close or too fond of him, he’d put an end to a relationship because he didn’t feel he deserved to be loved. When he meets Kathleen and sees the desperation in his eyes, something inside him stirs and old emotions start creeping back. He doesn’t understand why, out of all the sad cases he’s witnessed in his career, this girl is tugging at his heartstrings, but since he knows how pain can crush your heart if you don’t know how to get over it, he decides to help Kathleen, thinking he’ll use his own life experience for a good cause.
What are you working on next? Will we see Colin and Kathleen in a future book?
Writing about Colin and Kathleen has taken me on a very emotional journey and I found it hard to let go of them. Before the final draft was completed, I had at least another four of five scenes in mind, but with the first draft being 116k words, I reckoned I wouldn’t be able to add these scenes to the story.
I’ve never thought about writing a series, but I’d love to write a sequel to this story. I’ve even thought about writing a few scenes in David’s point of view (Kathleen’s other brother, who also stars in the book), because he was a really cute character and I really enjoyed writing about him.
So, well, you never know. I might end up writing a sequel, if readers would like to read more about Colin and Kathleen. Let me know! :)
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title- Hugged by an Angel
By- Roberta Cappizzi
Publication Date- July 22nd, 2013
Genre- Contemporary Romance
How can you ever love again when tragedy has crushed your heart?
Kathleen used to love life. She had plans, dreams, and faith in life; but that was before the accident that took it all away from her in an instant. Now that her beloved brother is dead and she's confined to a wheelchair, her future is but a dark cloud hovering above her head. How can she ever find the will to move on and keep living without him? Even the cares of the happy-go-lucky American physiotherapist who's helping her with her rehab therapies are all in vain. Life seems to have lost its meaning, until one night she receives an unexpected celestial visit…
Colin has been working as a physiotherapist in Dublin for almost five years, but he’s never bonded so much with a patient like he is bonding with Kathleen; there's something about those sad blue eyes that makes him want to help her, to take away the pain that reminds him so much of his own. Having lost both his parents in a plane crash when he was only sixteen, Colin knows how it feels to have someone you love taken so abruptly away from you, and he makes it his mission to help Kathleen find her faith in life again. But something changes along the way…
Sometimes love can work miracles. If you believe.
I woke up in a bed that didn’t feel like my own. I opened my eyes and the white light was so bright it stung, so I quickly shut them again.
I couldn’t remember where I was and I felt weird, as if something were wrong, although I couldn’t quite define what or why.
I took a deep breath and suddenly realized there was something stuck in my nostrils. Instinctively I brought my hand up to touch it; but when I did I felt a piercing pain in my arm. My eyelids fluttered open and my eyes slowly adjusted to the bright light. I saw a needle piercing my skin and I shivered. I had never been a fan of needles and the sight of one pulsing fluids into my arm was enough to give me the creeps.
I looked away and noticed a screen next to my bed from which a steady, rhythmical beep came, echoing in the empty room. Okay, I was in hospital; it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.
But why was I there? I tried to remember where I had been or what I’d been doing before everything had gone black but, as much as I tried, it was all blurred. I attempted to turn my head to check if there was a clock or something that could give me a clue as to what time it was but my neck felt constricted and I noticed I was wearing a neck collar.
Grand. So I had a stiff neck, too. I really needed to find out what hospital I was in and why, because the uncertainty was driving me crazy.
I could hear distant voices outside the room echoing down a corridor, but I wasn’t sure they would hear me if I called for help. I needed to get out of bed, but when I tried to move my legs something just didn’t feel right. It took me a couple of seconds to realize I couldn’t feel them; it was as if my body ended just below my waist. A chill ran down my spine, taking my breath away.
With shaking hands I slowly lifted the sheet covering the lower part of my body and I squinted, not sure I was ready to see if my legs weren’t there anymore. But they were, just where they’d always been, so I opened my eyes wider and touched my thigh with the tip of my finger.
I pinched the bare skin, but it felt weird, as if I were touching someone else’s leg. I couldn’t feel my thigh, although my fingers were still pinching as hard as they could. Panic overcame me and I propped myself up on the bed using my arms to support my weight; however I wasn’t as strong as I thought and when my left arm, the one the IV was attached to, gave in, I slipped and fell, crashing to the floor. I pulled everything attached to my body down with me except for the oxygen tube that was wrenched out of my nose.
I didn’t feel pain though; at first I didn’t feel anything at all. Then sudden despair took hold of me as I lay there, facedown on the tiled floor of a hospital room, and my first thought was how much I needed my brother Declan to wrap me in his arms right now.
“Oh, dear, what happened to you?”
A woman came rushing in wearing a pair of those green rubber slippers only doctors and nurses wear. She turned back toward the door and I heard her shout: “Colin, come here now, will ya? I need help.”
A minute later, I saw another set of feet in white sneakers and two strong arms lifted me up; shortly afterwards I was back in bed.
“Trying to sneak out, were you?” a soft, deep, male voice said and, as I looked up to match a face to the sound, I was a little taken aback by the unexpected vision. A young man was standing by my bed and my first impression was that he reminded me of Declan.
His eyes were blue, the same shade as my brother’s, and he had brown hair just like him—only his was wavy and tousled and it slightly curled up on the back of his neck, while Declan’s had always been short.
The nurse fixed the nasal cannula back into my nose, checked that the needle was still in my arm and, when she looked at me again, I noticed she had a friendly smile. She looked in her mid-fifties, and her face was round and rosy; her uniform seemed a little too tight for her generous curves and her manner was somehow reassuring, very motherly. It was silly, but it made me feel a little better.
“I’m Judith, by the way. I’m the head nurse in this ward and you can call me whenever you need anything.”
She smiled and I nodded. “Good, now I’ll leave you in the capable hands of our best physiotherapist. He’ll keep you company until Dr. O’Donnell gets here. You don’t mind, Colin, do you?” the nurse asked, turning toward the man in a white t-shirt and pants. He smiled and nodded; then the nurse looked at me and said she’d be back later.
I didn’t say a word; besides being in shock, I was too scared to find out if I’d lost my voice, too.
I looked away, taking a long, deep breath as I stared at the gray-paneled ceiling, wondering what was going to happen next.
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