Staying in with Phil Rowlands


Having stayed in with lots of female authors so far in my new Linda’s Book Bag feature Staying in with…, it’s about time I hosted a man! Today I’m delighted to welcome Phil Rowlands, author of Siena along to tell us all about his psychological thriller.

If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me and tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.

Staying in with Phil Rowlands

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Phil. I’m so pleased to be hosting a man for a change! Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share and why have you chosen it?

The book I would like to share during our evening together is my debut novel, Siena, which was published in August 2017 by Williams and Whiting. Although I have been a screenwriter for film and TV for many years, Siena is my first book and so introducing it to you is a real treat for me.


What can we expect from an evening in with Siena?

In Siena, I wanted to explore grief and loss, as well as love and retribution. Sara, the main character has to face the worst thing that could ever happen, happening; the unthinkable becoming a reality.

It is her journey from desolation to hope that is the theme of the book. How she gets there, who helps or hinders along the way is the heart of the story.

siena town

I wanted to set it in Wales, my homeland, and Siena, a beautiful and historic city and mecca for western artists. Each place has a special cultural and emotional identity. Sara is an artist and the glory of the art in Siena will help free her spirit and introduce her to those who will enhance, stimulate or distract her roller coaster search for truth and closure. The Palio, a race of huge passions, madness and history where the victor is all, is a perfect backdrop to Sara’s journey.

In Wales she meets a man who helps her find the courage, determination and strength to emerge from her darkness and go alone to Siena to find reasons to make sense of what happened to her family. There she will find it but it might not be the truth she seeks.

(Oh – this sounds really interesting Phil.)

Some of the review soundbites have been ‘gripping’ ‘a cracking read’ ‘a stylish and emotionally literate thriller’ ‘good read, gripping to the end’

(You must be delighted that Siena is being so well received.)

What else have you brought along and why? 

For this very special evening I would bring a couple of bottles of good Chianti, a vegetarian curry from Kerala, an EP of my singer/songwriter daughter, the Bruch violin concerto and a Caribbean fruit salad. My other guests would be James lee Burke, Claude Monet, Aphra Benn, and 1940s photographer Lee Miller – the sort of mix that would ensure a stimulating discussion on writing and art.

(I’m certain it would!)

I would also bring along a DVD of the Palio, and a selection of my photo collection of art from Siena and contemporary Wales to help explore my inspiration.


(I had never heard of the Palio before but I’d like to see that DVD. It sounds an exciting spectacle. My husband is Welsh and a photographer so we’ll let him share some photos of Wales with us too Phil!)

Thanks so much for sharing Siena with us Phil. I hope it sells really well.



Welsh artist Sara Llewellyn’s husband and young son are killed by chance during the shooting of a wealthy Italian in London. The killer disappears and Sara’s pain and grief drive her to the edge of madness. She hides away as her life spins out of control until she meets a Canadian academic researching his Welsh roots. He helps her find some balance and light and provokes a positive start to her recovery. She goes to Italy alone to find answers and is drawn into a world of art, culture, beauty and betrayal that leads to a shattering discovery at the explosive climax of the Palio in Siena.

Siena is available for purchase here.

About Phil Rowlands


Phil Rowlands loves telling stories, having written poems and stories since he was 12 . He has worked as an actor in film, tv, radio and theatre.

You can follow Phil on Twitter @PhilRowlands2. You’ll also find him on Facebook.

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