This week on Guest Blog Wednesdays at The Australian Bookshelf we are joined by Australian writer, Rosanne Dingli. Welcome Rosanne!
On location: an author’s trip
It did not strike me the instant we arrived in Venice, that Spring of 2008. I did not see it until we visited the magnificent cathedral at Santa Maria della Salute. We crossed to it by waterbus, and it loomed ahead, tall and sparkling, its recently renovated marble exterior a credit to Paladio and his inimitable architecture. It was not then that I was struck, either. It was inside.
I had already started a draft for According to Luke, but all I had was an idea and a title. A few Sunday breakfast discussions had given me a premise, but it was still weak and nothing I could get fired up about. Then, in Venice, on a visit to this spectacular cathedral, it came to me. I looked at the revered icon, behind a bank of guttering candles, over the heads of gathered tourists, past columns and the waving arms of travel guides. The Madonna’s face was hardly visible, but it gave me that AHA moment I knew I was waiting for. From then on, it was a matter of attaching my premise to a plot, and then to a chronological story.
Brilliant – I emerged from that church with a head spinning with story. Every single place we went after that was magic. It was like a trip planned around the skeleton of a plot. I saw potential in every shrine, in every cobbled street, in every restaurant or café. I was having fun! I did not make notes. I have a great memory for places. Locations are what I write about … around …
The locations would stay with me, I knew. But what about a protagonist? I needed to SEE and UNDERSTAND a woman who looked the part, who was intelligent, gutsy, but also a bit vulnerable in the way of love. I needed – what did I need? A woman who was more attractive because of character than just pretty, and there she was: my landlady in Venice was just the ticket physically, so I started to visualise my protagonist, Jana Hayes, with that physique, but perhaps a softer voice, and marginally shorter. I gave her the hands of an artist and the heart of a woman who has loved and lost.
Onto Ravenna we went, where the mosaics gave me one aspect I had hardly thought of: history. I knew it would come eventually, of course, but getting off the train at Ravenna, I was swamped, submerged, soaked in history that was exactly the kind I wanted. It was in the buildings, the churches, the monuments and the splendid mosaics. That was where I chose two locations for pivotal events in According to Luke, and suddenly realised I would need more than just one strong woman, and a handful of male characters to balance the determination and courage of someone who was forming a realisation about herself.
In Ravenna, I found the huge problem I could give my beautiful but troubled protagonist. Yes, we writers give our characters such a hard time; and our readers need to travel with them, mentally and physically, through locations that are memorable and places that relate to what is happening in their interior lives as well. What a job – what a load of inspiration one must have – but luckily, it came to me in Italy that Spring of 2008.
Writing According to Luke was not an easy job – and my publishers asked for a revision just when I thought I had it right. But how right they were! The thriller is now clear and pacey. It is exciting, and the research that went into it is authentic, especially for the locations: I was there.
Rosanne Dingli http://www.rosannedingli.com
Blurb: Shattered by the breakdown of yet another romance, Jana Hayes becomes a recluse in her tiny Venice apartment and buries herself in her work as an expert art conservator … until an ancient religious icon brings Roman Catholic priest Rob Anderson into her life. The secret they discover hidden in the mysterious artefact turns out to be not only devastating, but deadly. And it has the star-crossed couple running for their lives across Europe and the Middle East, pursued by three ruthless opposing factions, each for its own reason determined to torture and kill to lay hands on the world-shaking evidence uncovered. While Rob struggles with his priestly vows, and Jana with an overbearing billionaire mother who holds the purse strings to an outrageous ransom demand, they discover, with the help of an ageing genius symbologist, more and more damning revelations about one of the New Testament’s most sacred gospel writers. And as the evidence mounts, the stakes rise and the blood flows.
According to Luke is a thrilling romantic novel of secrecy, symbols, faith, and forbidden love. It takes the reader on a quest for an ancient truth so powerful it disturbs the Catholic Church: a truth so explosive it attracts violent separatists and demands a ransom of millions. Follow a chase that charges from Venice to Malta, and then to Ravenna: a chase that escalates to disaster in Damascus, until a solution is found in the Victorian countryside in Australia.
Author bio: Rosanne Dingli is an award-winning Western Australian novelist, author of Death in Malta, According to Luke, six collections of short stories and a book of collected poems. She has had numerous articles, stories, reviews, columns and poems published Australia-wide and on the internet since 1986. She has worked as teacher, lecturer, workshop coordinator, magazine and corporate editor, travel consultant, cook, manuscript assessor, heraldic artist and business partner. She has travelled widely in Italy, the UK, Turkey, Greece, South East Asia, Holland, and Belgium, as well as most Australian states
Thank you for your post Rosanne.
I have just recently received a review copy of According to Luke and hope to post a review in the next few weeks.
If you would like to feature on Guest Blog Wednesdays at The Australian Bookshelf- whether you are an author, reader, writer, blogger- drop me a line at jayne.fordham(AT)live(DOT)com.au and tell me a bit about yourself. Regards, Jayne.