LONGMEADOW – A new book by author Linda Cardillo is scheduled to launch on June 27. Titled “A Place of Refuge,” it is the fourth novel in her First Light series and focuses on a character readers may recognize, Izzy Monroe.
Izzy first appeared as a child in Book Two, and later was mentioned in Book Three because of an auto accident. The character stuck with Cardillo and, eventually, she realized she wanted to give Izzy a book of her own. Book Four begins by going back in time to pick up the threads of Izzy’s story.
Cardillo began writing the book in 2019 when she was part of a writing group in Northampton. She had just brought in the first 30 pages to get feedback from her fellow writers when COVID hit, and everything came to a standstill.
“For a time, my creativity disappeared,” Cardillo said. “I later read that was a situation experienced by writers in general. It’s called ‘languishing’.” Eventually, though, little by little, she began writing again, and now the book is ready to launch.
Back in Book Three, Izzy’s identity had changed because of an automobile accident in which she experienced dying and coming back again. She suffered brain damage in the form of impaired short-term memory. In Book Four, she needs to come to terms with her situation.
To help her along the way, she takes a job on a farm in Italy owned by a friend’s grandfather. She finds purpose there, but keeps herself aloof, afraid to expose her impairment. When a young priest arrives, sent by his order to deal with a crisis of faith, they find a connection, and a new understanding of themselves.
There are experiences in this book the author is personally familiar with. She, too, was in an automobile accident at a young age and suffered brain damage. “Although the story’s setting, characters and plot are imagined, the emotional upheaval Izzy faces is based on my own struggle to recover from brain damage,” Cardillo explained.
The farm in Italy where Izzy goes to heal was also a place of refuge for the author.
In 2014, while working on the historical novel, “Love That Moves the Sun,” about the relationship between the poet Vittoria Colonna and the artist Michaelangelo, Cardillo contracted Lyme disease and needed to rest before beginning the hard work of doing research for the novel. As in Izzy’s case, the farm in Italy was recommended by a friend.
“I spent nearly two weeks there, in paradise,” Cardillo said. “Three days recuperating from Lyme disease in 2014, and another 10 days writing in 2017.”
In explaining why she has written a fourth book in this series, Cardillo said, “To me, my characters are real people. It’s hard to let them go at the end of a book.”
“Actually,” she added with a smile, “there’s another book as well – a novella, a prequel to the first book in the First Light series. It’s called ‘Catriona’s Vow’ and follows the original character’s parents who left Ireland and settled on Martha’s Vineyard.”
The novella is not for sale, but will be offered as a bonus.
Cardillo is the author of 11 books and two novellas and is the recipient of several awards. “Love That Moves the Sun,” won first place in the Chaucer Book Award in Pre-1750s Historical Fiction, was a winner in historical fiction in the NYC Big Book Award, and was a finalist for Indies Book of the Year.
“The Boat House Cafe” won first prize in 20th-century fiction in the Goethe Awards for historical fiction.
“A Place of Refuge” launches on June 27. Cardillo will read from it at Storrs Library in Longmeadow on June 27 at 6:30 p.m., and at Enfield Library in Enfield on June 29 at 6:30 p.m.
For more information, visit her website at https://www.lindacardillo.com.