Many people these days keep a smartphone in their back pants pocket for quick, indiscriminate selfies. Me? I keep a compact writing book, secured by a black elastic band, in my pocket to record the impressions and emotions I experience when visiting a place. A picture may be worth a thousand words…but are they the right words? Can it describe the emotions that flow through us when taking in serenity, antiquity and grandeur?
On a recent research trip to Sicily, while minding my own business making notes about the sights, smells and voices at the street market in Siracusa, I was approached by a proprietor, a cheese maker who offered me a heavenly pinch of freshly made smoked mozzarella cheese served on a mint leaf. “Are you a chef?” he asked me.
While standing behind a security cordon opposite the Municipio building in the ancient hilltop town of Palazzolo Acreide, where my favorite scene in my next book is set, I observed an interaction between police officers that helped me form a very vivid character profile of Captain Fattore, an officer in the Italian Guardia de Finanza who will appear in the new novel. In the throws of making detailed notes about this police officer’s appearance, body language and impeccable Italian style, I was stealthily approached by a traffic cop who tapped my leg with his baton to get my attention, “Are you a journalist?”
My first novel, The Deceit of Riches (October 2017), was inspired by my misadventures in Russia in the wild and crazy 1990’s which I almost didn’t live through. As I work now on my second novel, From the Rooftops, set across Romania, Ukraine and Italy, I will be sharing the research activities and travel undertaken to write it, to give the curious reader a look behind the scenes of the creative process.
Although I work hard to transport the readers directly into the setting in my stories, it is always fun to see photos of the places one reads about. Hopefully I will pique your interest so much, in both word and photo, that you’ll go visit these places and experience them in your own way.
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You can read more about this entertaining visit in Sicily in my blog post Learning to Eat Like an Italian.
Now go on, Get Lost!