International best-selling author Marina Fiorato has travelled the world this year promoting her successful debut novel – but she’s never happier than when back at her mother’s home in Langcliffe.

She enjoyed a Christmas reunion with her mother, Barbara Fiorato, who lives at Langcliffe Hall Cottage, the home where Marina grew up.

Marina’s upbringing in the Yorkshire Dales is a far cry from the home of her Venetian father, who remained in Italy during her childhood.

But her fascination for events in Italian history, which developed while she was a teenager at Settle High School, provides a backdrop to her stories of love and intrigue.

Due to start her fourth novel, Marina, 36, who now lives in London, says it was the top-rate education she received at the former Langcliffe Primary School, Settle Middle School and Settle High School which set her on the road to success.

And she says she owes a huge debt of gratitude to her fellow Langcliffe novelist, Helene Wiggin – who has published nine novels under the name of Leah Fleming – for putting her in touch with the right publishers for her.

“Being half Venetian and growing up in Langcliffe, I’m a bit of a hybrid and the places couldn’t be more different,” said Marina, a mother-of-two.

“I’ve nothing but good memories of growing up in Langcliffe and my education in Settle definitely put me on track as an author.

“I can’t think of a better place to spend Christmas than Langcliffe. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth, particularly at this time of year. Nowhere does Christmas better,” she said.

Marina studied history at Oxford University and gained her masters degree at the University of Venice. Before starting a family, she enjoyed a varied and glamorous career which involved being an actress for some time, playing roles including Rupert Everett’s prostitute in the film An Ideal Husband and Keith Allen’s wife in The Wrong Blonde.

In her twenties she worked mainly as an illustrator, completing the graphics for films such as Tomb Raider. She also designed tour visuals for rock bands including U2 and the Rolling Stones.

Modest about her success as a novelist, she said she doubted she was set to become the next JK Rowling, but added it was exciting when a bidding war developed over the German rights of her first novel, The Glassblower of Murano, eventually earning her 130,000 Euros.

It sold in Germany and Spain first and is now printed in 14 countries.

Initially the book – a historical mystery centred on the glassmaking tradition of the Venetian island of Murano – was universally rejected by publishers in the UK, but it came out here in May after great international acclaim.

“When my first novel was sold, it was like a fairytale. At the time I was living in a one-bedroom flat with a small child and the success of the novel has transformed our lives,” she said.

“I lived in Venice while I was completing my studies, but since then I’ve been living in London. After I had my son and brought someone else into the world, I started thinking about my Italian heritage.

“I wrote the novel over six months, one day a week, while my husband took care of our six-month-old son Conrad. It was my way of getting my brain back into gear after having a baby.”

The Glassblower of Murano was on a shortlist in a public vote to be The Book To Talk About, a competition to coincide with World Book Day 2009.

Marina’s second novel, The Madonna of the Almonds, a story of love, art and the creation of the Italian liqueur Amaretto Disaronno, will be available in May.

Her third is due out in 2010.