Under the Spanish Stars
Set against the backdrop of beautiful and historic Granada in southern Spain, Under The Spanish Stars gives a taste of flamenco and the gypsy culture, while delving into the turbulent history of Spain in the 1930s and 40s. Inspired by her own Spanish heritage and living abroad in South America, multi-award winning author Alli Sinclair weaves an exquisite tale of travel, culture, mystery, family relationships, and above all, love.
A former travel writer, consultant and tour guide, Alli has lived an adventurous life. She has scaled mountains in Nepal, Argentina and Peru, rafted the Ganges, and rode a camel in the Sahara. And when she wasn't working as a mountain or tour guide, Alli could be found in the dance halls dancing the tango, salsa, merengue and samba.
Captivating, poetic and breathtakingly vivid, Alli brings the lyrical voice of a poet, the eye of a seasoned traveller, and the flair of her own Spanish heritage in this beautiful multi-generational story that explores the relationships between family, lovers and self.
A family mystery, a passionate encounter, a life-changing journey into the past…
Charlotte Kavanagh's beloved grandma Katarina Sanchez is gravely ill, so when she begs Charlotte to travel to her homeland in Andalucía to uncover the truth behind a mysterious painting, Charlotte agrees. Taking leave from her soul-destroying job and stalled life in Australia, Charlotte embarks on a quest through Granada's ancient cobble-stoned streets and vibrant neighbourhoods. There she meets Mateo Vives, a flamenco guitarist with a dark past, and through Mateo she quickly becomes entangled in the world of flamenco and gypsies that ignites a passion she had thought lost.
But the mystery surrounding the painting deepens, reaching back in time to the war-torn Spain of the 1940s and Charlotte discovers her grandmother's connection to the Spanish underground. Who is her grandmother, really? What is Mateo's connection to her family history? And why is finding answers to a family mystery turning into a journey of self-discovery for Charlotte?
Weighed down by secrets, betrayals and shattered relationships, Charlotte finds herself questioning the true meaning of heritage, family and love.
Alli Sinclair is a multi-award-winning author of books that combine travel, mystery, and romance. An adventurer at heart, Alli has climbed some of the world's highest mountains and immersed herself in an array of exotic destinations, cultures, and languages.
Alli writes stories that capture the romance and thrill of discovering new destinations and people. Luna Tango, Alli's debut novel, was voted as the 2014 Book of the Year by Ausrom Today Reader's Choice Awards, and the Australian Romance Readers Association voted Alli as Favourite New Romance Author 2014.
Alli volunteers as an author role model with Books in Homes, promoting literacy and reading amongst young Australians.
Under the Spanish Stars
Author: Alli Sinclair
Interview with Alli Sinclair
Question: What inspired the story of Under the Spanish Stars?
Alli Sinclair: My ancestors are Spanish so I've always held a fascination for this country. When I decided to write a story set in Spain the flamenco caves in the hillsides of Granada kept popping up in my head. I loved the idea about writing something that is a large part of Spanish culture and, as I'm a sucker for family sagas, mysteries, and romance, I combined these elements to create Under the Spanish Stars.
All my books have two timelines"one present-day and the other historical. When choosing which time period to set the historical story in, I found myself focussing on the 1930s and 1940s. At that time Spain was under a lot of upheaval after the Civil War and World War II. It gave me a lot of scope to work with and also added extra elements of intrigue that became a major part of the mystery that spans generations in Under the Spanish Stars.
Question: How did your love of travel inspire Under the Spanish Stars?
Alli Sinclair: A majority of my adult life has been spent travelling (or dreaming about it!) so it is only natural for me to write stories in fascinating destinations. The idea of setting a story in picturesque southern Spain appealed because the beauty and culture are so strong that it has become another character in my book. And, because of the history of gypsies and flamenco in this region, it made sense to weave these elements through the story and attach it to the family mystery.
I chose Granada as it's a beautiful city with stunning architecture (the Alhambra Palace is on my front cover) and it contains lots of aspects I love when travelling"wonderful food, unique music and art, fascinating history and super interesting locals. This combination makes Granada an interesting destination to travel to"whether it's in person or in the pages of a book.
Question: Can you talk about the research that went into Under the Spanish Stars?
Alli Sinclair: Research is something I love doing and I've found when I approach people in specialist areas, they are usually very keen to talk about their chosen profession or personal experiences. With Under the Spanish Stars I was very lucky to meet two professional flamenco artists"Inge Muhlhauser and Fernando Mira"who answered every question I had about flamenco and Granada. Inge has danced in Carmen with the Australian Opera and Fernando played the role of Rico (Fran's father) in the stage show of Strictly Ballroom. So you can imagine the amazing amount of expertise these two flamenco aficionados had to share! Inge also lived for years in Granada so she shared her local's knowledge so I could weave in details that gave the story more layers.
Question: What was the best part about creating the character of Charlotte Kavanagh?
Alli Sinclair: Creating characters is such a wonderful part of writing. Sometimes characters arrive on the page fully formed, while others take a few drafts before they show their true colours. It's very much like sitting down with a new friend and asking questions so you can peel away the layers and find out exactly what makes them tick.
When I first started writing about Charlotte, she was reluctant to reveal her true self to me. And this is exactly how she is in the story! She's a person who needs time and confidence to show who she really is. Her career is in insurance, so she's used to assessing risk and even though she loves to think she is adventurous, she's constantly consumed with 'what if" questions that limits her ability to be herself. So when her feisty grandmother sends her off to Spain to solve a mystery, Charlotte is paralysed by fear of the unknown. It doesn't stop her, though, which is one of the things I love about her. As the story progresses, the reader goes on the journey with Charlotte as she learns to face her fears (and there are many!) and learns to let go of the shackles she's dragged around for so many years. Of course, this is all with the help of Mateo Vives who is very good at holding up a mirror to Charlotte and helping her face reality. Charlotte is the girl next door who tries so hard to keep it together but every so often falls flat on her face. But she dusts herself off, gets back up and gives a smile that makes anyone's bad day brighter.
Interview by Brooke Hunter