Venice Writing

Ytali magazine… the big interview

It was fascinating to ‘sit down’ (a few thousand miles apart) with JoAnn Locktov to talk writing and Venice at length. You can read the result now in Ytali, an essential source of news and opinion for anyone interested in Italy and Venice in particular. The English version is here, and the Italian, kindly translated by Ytali’s founder, Guido Moltedo, here.

I first talked to JoAnn a decade ago when she wanted to run an extract from one of my tales in the beautiful photography and writing book she was producing, Dream of Venice. Since then, she’s produced two more stunning books on the city, Dream of Venice Architecture and Dream of Venice in Black and White, and curated surely the most comprehensive list of current fiction and non-fiction Venetian titles on her Dream of Venice site.

It was flattering to discover she’d been following my work in the city for so many years, going back to Lucifer’s Shadow/The Cemetery of Secrets which I wrote more than a quarter of a century ago.

A delight to chat at greater length than one normally finds in these interviews. And remember… if you have questions yourself and are in Venice on October 13 you can come and ask them when I’m at the Studium bookstore with Philip Gwynne Jones and Gregory Dowling, starting at 6 pm, all free, no need to book.


The Medici Murders begins…

For me, three key elements support a conventional narrative, each critical to the recounting of a good tale.

  1. The characters. Love them or hate them, they must be interesting enough for the reader to want to know how their story pans out.
  2. The world in which they live. Location isn’t enough — that’s a two-dimensional thing. A world is about more than looks. It has atmosphere, aromas, weather, temperature, a feel for the way locals respond to the changing seasons. It’s important to me that this is unique to the story. Or to put it another way, if you could pick up the narrative and shift it from Venice to London or even Rome then I’d feel I hadn’t quite got this bit right.
  3. Events. The challenges our characters must face along the way in pursuit of the resolution. Events, again, that should often be unique to the world in which they take place.

Every conventional story, be it crime, thriller, horror, sci-fi or mainstream novel, sits on that structural tripod. What makes each different may be the balance between the three. In one of those breakneck, read-in-a-flash thrillers which The Medici Murders isn’t, events are often uppermost, a series of non-stop shocks and twists designed to get you to rip through the book at top speed.

But here I’m focusing more on characters and the unique world that is Venice. There are plenty of twists and turns along the way. But I also want to transport the reader to those dark and cobbled alleys during Carnival, to let them smell the salty winter air, relish the cicchetti and the bitter-sweet taste of spritz, to become absorbed in one of the most extraordinary cities on earth as a very Venetian mystery unwinds around them.

Venice Writing

Venice event October 13 – slight change of time

Please note a slight change in the timing of the event with Philip Gwynne Jones and Gregory Dowling at Studium in Venice on October 13. This will now start at 6pm, not 6.30 as originally stated. More details here.

Venice Writing

The real Medici Murders

History is full of murders, most of them documented by people who weren’t there, and were often writing hundred years after the events they chronicle with such apparent confidence. History’s full of holes too, lacunae open to any number of ideas and theories. The assassination of Julius Caesar, the killings of the princes in the Tower of London, even, more recently, the shooting of John F. Kennedy still raise questions in people’s minds, and any number of conspiracies.

The slaying of Lorenzino de’ Medici, one of the lesser figures in the clan that was effectively the royal family of Florence and Tuscany, is rather different. Almost five centuries on we still have a first-hand account of how Lorenzino was hunted down in the dark streets of Venice in winter, cornered on the Ponte San Tomà in San Polo below and stabbed to death.