Newport writer brings it all back home

Zoe Venditozzi
Zoe Venditozzi
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A DEBUT novelist is to give an insight into her difficult journey into print.

Zoe Venditozzi will be appearing at St Andrews Library on March 14 to talk about the background to her first novel – set in Dundee and rural Perthshire – how writing has helped her and the trials and tribulations of getting her first novel published.

Raised in Newport and later attending Madras High School, Zoe travelled and lived abroad before returning to Fife and studying for her MLitt in creative writing at Dundee University.

Her book, ‘Anywhere’s Better Than Here’, has been highly praised for its realism and frank portrayal of “life in a rut” faced by many youngsters in recent times of economic uncertainty.

Her narrative follows the life of Laurie, a young university graduate, in a dead-end job with a computer game-obsessed boyfriend and seemingly few options.

Of those options Laurie does have, she elects to take odd routes resulting in some bleak but humorous consequences.

Zoe said: “I have been able to draw a lot on my own experiences for this book – as any writer does.

“Between house fires, having young children and my partner suffering from health issues, there were times I thought I might not ever complete this book – but I did!

“And I can’t help thinking it has helped me process everything we’ve been through over the past 10 years.”

The book also hinges on Laurie’s grief at losing a parent and Zoe admits personal experience was at play here too – her own father passed away eight years ago and it was his death that spurred her to take up writing seriously.

“I realised how precious time was,” she explained, “and that there was no point putting things off, waiting for the right time.

“The right time may never come and you’re better to begin from exactly where you are.

“My writing helped me through difficult times – I’ve always been open and talked to people about the things that have affected my family – depression, cancer – and that and my black sense of humour have really helped me keep going.”

Zoe has now made her home in Newport with her partner and three children.

•Zoe Venditozzi will be talking about her debut novel ‘Anywhere’s Better Than Here’ (Sandstone Press Ltd) at St Andrews Library on March 14, at 7 pm. For tickets and further information, contact the library on 01334 659378.