Me in My Books by T.A. Williams
You see, first of all, Penny falls in love with a black Labrador called Gilbert. My old Lab definitely slotted in straight after my wife and daughter in my affections (outstripping both of them on occasions, but don’t tell them I said that).
Second, Penny has dreamt all her life of going to Venice. Well, many, many years ago, I spent eight years living and working in Italy and, since then, I have returned to visit Venice on a number of occasions, most recently just before last Christmas.
Unsurprisingly, Penny shares my love of that wonderful city. I hope my description of it manages to do justice to somewhere that will always be very dear to me. If I wasn’t married to the only Italian in the world who prefers to live in England rather than in Italy, I would, without doubt, be writing this in a little house somewhere in Italy, hopefully not too far from La Serenissima, Venice.
So that’s the dog and the city. Now, what about the story? The main premise of the story is that Penny has to put her thespian hat on and act the part of reclusive billionaire, Olivia. Now, I’ve never done any acting, but I know only too well how hard it is to go to meetings and receptions, a smile permanently bolted on and a ready supply of small talk to hand. Poor Penny comes right up against it when she has to go to a cocktail party for the rich and famous and she feels like a fish out of water. I know the feeling.
Penny is an artist and I’m not, but my wife is. All the details of famous artists, painting with oils, compositions and exhibitions are gleaned from her. I’ve never lived in London, but my daughter does. So, when she gets round to reading Dreaming of Venice, she won’t be totally surprised to find some of the places being described strangely familiar. As for Penny’s love of Venice, that is definitely all me. I love the place.
In my previous book for Canelo, Chasing Shadows, the action takes place on the pilgrims’ way to Santiago de Compostela. I did that whole trip myself on a bike a few years ago and inserted any number of incidents that actually happened to me. In Dreaming of Venice, lots of events, like getting lost in the narrow alleys of the old city, actually happened to me. Penny loves champagne and Prosecco. Snap. Like me, she speaks Italian and is fascinated by history and the history of art. And we both like rabbit stew.
Above all, however, I would like to think that Penny is like me in the way she faces up to the problems that life throws at her. She doesn’t drop her head into her hands and spend a week or two sobbing. She takes a deep breath and gets on with it. It isn’t easy for her with her long-distance boyfriend, her struggle to break into the London art scene, or having to share her accommodation with a big, bold rat. But she manages. Penny, like so many of my heroines, is a very determined character. I suppose you could probably say that about me, too.
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