I didn’t fully appreciate at first who I was waiting to meet at our local coffee shop in Gardens, Cape Town. Once pleasantries had been exchanged and I had taken my first few sips of coffee, I settled into my soft, squeaky chair.  To say I was impressed at the depth of experience on display by Hilary Prendini Toffoli would be an understatement.  I left our first coffee chat truly excited by the prospect of helping Hilary publish the sequel to her novel Loves and Miracles of Pistola.

Pistola: the Homecoming is out now in both eBook and print. For those of you who prefer the eBook format, you can buy online over here.

Your author name

Hilary Prendini Toffoli

Your book title

Pistola: the Homecoming

Author Hilary Prendini Toffoli holding her latest book
Hilary Prendini Toffoli

Give us the elevator pitch for your book?

Brought up by his tricky but charismatic grandfather in a tiny Italian village, Pistola has married Teresa, the tempestuous beauty he’s loved since childhood. They’ve left their close-knit community – where all that matters is what you’re having for dinner – and moved to South Africa to open a restaurant. But it’s proving problematic. To make matters worse, vast unseen forces have combined to draw Pistola back home…

What would you give as your main reason or goal for writing?

I’ve been writing fiction since my teens. Writing is when I’m happiest. It’s like inhabiting an alternative life. All those crazy people in Pistola’s Italian village – I know them all very well.  The bad ones as well as the good.

Who was the book written for?

Someone who loves Italy and its culture. Who prefers nostalgia to sci-fi. Who likes stories about real people confronting real challenges. And who enjoys books that are written with a touch of irony.

How long did it take for you to finish the final draft of your book?

About two years.

What makes this book different from others on the shelf?

It’s part of a series based on a little-known episode in South Africa in the fifties when many of the 110 young Italian men recruited to work as train stewards here ended up opening restaurants that gave Italian food to the nation.           


What was the hardest part of the writing journey for you?

Pistola; the Homecoming is a sequel to Loves and Miracles of Pistola, and so for readers who might not have read the first book, in which Pistola goes from Italy to South Africa to work on the trains, I had to subtly bring in details of that story without boring people who might have read the original.  

Your favourite place to write?

A shady corner of the patio with my black woolly Belgian collie Josie under my chair.

What kept you motivated to write during the times you felt stuck?

I take Josie for a walk when I’m stuck. The connection between walking and thinking is ancient. Walking stimulates the creative part of the brain. 

Tell us something about yourself that readers would not be able to guess?

I love languages. I speak Italian, French, Spanish and Afrikaans, and once had a bash at Russian and Japanese too, but found them too difficult.

Have you written any other books?

Besides the two Pistola novels, and the third one I’ve just started, I’ve written two other novels yet to be published. All the Queen’s Horses is loosely based on the diary my grandfather wrote during the Boer War’s Ladysmith Siege, but a lot more racy. The Summer the Snake Danced is a humorous murder story set in Johannesburg, whose main character is a teenage boy who collects snakes.

Assuming you may not write full-time, what is your day job?

Gardening. Babysitting. Husbandsitting.

Pistola The Homecoming Mockup
Click to buy the eBook from your preferred online retailer